This is the only interview in the collection that wasn’t done with this book in mind. It came about simply because my friend, Sheikh Mansour, called me one day back in 2009 and said, ‘Do you want to come to Canberra with me and meet the former President of Iran?’
I said ‘sure’, because it sounded like an adventure and because I liked the idea of sharing a six-hour car journey with Mansour. I knew nothing about Mr Khatami when I first met him. Even so, he impressed me, and one thing he said has stuck with me ever since.
The former President of Iran was here to speak on a platform of ‘Dialogue Between Civilisations’ – encouraging communication at the grass roots. I asked him, ‘If we can get ordinary people to dialogue honestly, do you think we can get politicians to do so as well?’ He snapped back immediately, ‘Politicians don’t dialogue. They negotiate.’
That statement isn’t included in this snippet of the interview. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to the full interview. Even so, I thought this section was entirely relevant and worth including.
Mr Khatami spoke in Farsi and Sheikh Mansour translated. The interview took place in Canberra on 28 March 2009.