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The BBC's Rob Watson
" US officials later said she'd found President Khatami's speech thought provoking"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK
Iran head's speech attracts Albright
President Mohammad Khatami and advisor Javad Faridzadeh
Khatami is on a charm offensive
United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright has made a surprise appearance to hear a speech by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who is in New York for the United Nations Millennium Summit.

Mr Khatami said his speech was part of a campaign to promote "dialogue amongst civilizations".

Madeline Albright made a last-minute change to her schedule to hear Mr Khatami's address but did not meet him.

"She very much wanted to hear Khatami's speech ... this is intended as a gesture," a US state department offficial said.

In his speech Mr Khatami said: "We should listen in earnest to what other cultures offer."

He however warned that dialogue was not easy.

He also touched on globalisation and its impact on society.

The meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was also attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and US Republican Senator Arlen Specter.

Hopeful future

Mr Annan welcomed the gesture by the US and said: "I think we are moving forward, and perhaps I won't say we've made a major stride but let's say the ice is being broken and things are beginning to move in the right direction."

But US officials have ruled out a meeting between President Clinton and Mr Khatami on the fringe of the summit.

Relationships between the two countries have been cool but both sides have shown signs of growing closeness.

On Tuesday, US and Iranian lawmakers met for the first time since the Islamic revolution, and discussed various issues including US sanctions against Tehran and the treatment of Iranian Jews.

Other speakers at the meeting addressed by President Khatami were Namibian President Sam Nujoma, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.

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04 Sep 00 | World
UN summit agenda
04 Sep 00 | World
UN in a new millennium
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