Iranian President Mohammed Khatami left Tehran early Monday for Berlin where he will make a three-day official visit, the first by an Iranian president since the Islamic Republic was created in 1979, reported AFP.
"As we go to Germany, we have our faces turned towards the future, not the past, although we must have an eye on the past," Khatami told journalists just before his departure.
"German leaders want to develop relations with Iran, and that is what we want too," he said.
Khatami, accompanied by his foreign minister Kamal Kharazi, was due to be met at Berlin airport by German President Johannes Rau.
Meanwhile, German police carried out a series of preventative arrests on Iranian activists early Monday, hours ahead of Khatami’s arrival, reported AFP, quoting a Berlin police spokesman.
The police spokesman added that around ten people had been picked up but refused to identify those arrested.
Over the past few days, German police have prevented around 6,000 Iranian opposition supporters from entering the country, notably from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, said the agency, quoting a statement by the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Police also confiscated the passports of several dozen Iranians exiled in Germany, and told them to report daily to their local police station.
Security is tight for the first visit of an Iranian head of state to Germany since 1967, with police on "maximum alert".
Khatami is to be welcomed with full military honors at Berlin's Tegel airport by President Johannes Rau, becoming the first Iranian leader to visit since a turbulent trip by the late Shah in 1967, when a German student was shot dead by police, reported Reuters.
On the first day of a three-day visit, Khatami will also meet Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, both keen to pursue a policy of engagement to support fragile democratic reforms in Iran, said Reuters - (Several Sources)
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