Khatami breaks US taboo

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The Independent Online
The Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, is to speak directly to the American public next week in a television interview that could mark the end of nearly two decades of hostility between Iran and the United States. The interview - the latest example of the trend towards diplomacy by television - will be aired on the Cable News Network (CNN), probably next Tuesday. It will be conducted by CNN's chief international correspondent, and star female reporter, Christiane Amanpour.

That the Iranian President has agreed to speak to a US network and that the interview will be conducted by a woman will send powerful signals both to Americans and Iranians about the prospects for change in Iran.

Ms Amanpour covered the election won by Mr Khatami last year and has reported from Iran on several occasions before and since, touching on sensitive issues like the position of women, but always wearing a headscarf in deference to local sensibilities.

The White House, where officials are said to be locked in debate about the genuineness of recent Iranian overtures to the US, was reportedly preparing to respond to Mr Khatami very soon after the broadcast.

- Mary Dejevsky,