September 5, 2006

Mass. Gov. calls planned Khatami talk “propaganda”

BOSTON (Reuters) - Gov. Mitt Romney on Tuesday said
Massachusetts would not provide any security support for former
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami's weekend visit, calling his
planned speech at Harvard "propaganda."

Khatami is due to speak on Sunday at Harvard University in
Cambridge on the "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."

Romney said Khatami will not receive a state police escort
or any other state help. Federal officials will attend to his

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the state normally
provides a police escort to visiting dignitaries. He said U.S.
State Department officials had contacted the state police's
tactical unit, which typically coordinates traffic-stopping
escorts, prior to Romney's statement.

Romney, a 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, called the
visit "a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who lost their
lives at the hands of extremists, especially on the eve of the
five-year anniversary of 9/11."

"The U.S. State Department listed Khatami's Iran as the No.
1 state sponsor of terrorism," Romney said. "For him to lecture
Americans about tolerance and violence is propaganda, pure and

A Harvard spokesman was not immediately able to comment on
Romney's declaration.

The United States last week issued a visa for Khatami's
visit. He was also scheduled to attend a United Nations
conference in New York.