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.” BOSTON, Sept 5 (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 security.
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 simple.”
“We are surprised and disappointed by Governor Romney’s position,” on Khatami’s visit, Harvard said in a statement.
“In keeping with its educational mission, Harvard University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government have a long tradition of providing an opportunity for leaders from around the world to speak to the community on public policy issues, and just as importantly, to give the audience the opportunity to ask challenging and unfiltered questions of these leaders.”
“We are currently reviewing the security arrangements for this visit in light of the Governor’s decision. We expect to go forward with the event and will work diligently with federal and local officials to ensure a safe environment for all.”
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.