The Bush administration, which is in a diplomatic tussle with Tehran over its nuclear plans, will allow Iran’s ex-president Mohammad Khatami to visit Washington next week, the State Department said on Monday.

Khatami, whose reformist government ceded power last year to current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has asked for a visa to deliver a speech on reconciliation and other issues at Washington’s National Cathedral on September 7.

“If he (Khatami) does intend to travel to the United States for the purposes for which a visa was requested, then it is my understanding that the visa will be issued,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

“This was a decision that was made (to allow Khatami a visa),” said McCormack, adding that he did not know whether a visa had been issued yet.

He said there were no plans for U.S. officials to meet Khatami during his proposed visit.

Khatami would be the most high-profile Iranian to visit Washington since ties were severed between the two countries after the 1979 Islamic revolution and 52 Americans were held hostage in the U.S. embassy for 444 days.


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