Iran’s leaders had hoped that a prestigious meeting of the Islamic Conference in Tehran would help end the country’s economic and political isolation. In the end, it served mainly to reveal the deep political divisions in Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top leader, did little to put the heads of 55 Islamic nations at ease when he opened the conference by denouncing Western countries as arrogant and unjust. Then, President Mohammad Khatami, who was elected in May, underscored the gulf between the hardline religious leaders and moderates like himself by calling for closer ties with the same countries. ‘We must utilize the positive scientific and social accomplishments of the West,” said Khatami. The United States later welcomed the conference declaration condemning terrorism and upholding the rights of Muslim women.
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