Following are excerpts from an interview with Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief, Kayhan Iranian daily, which aired on Channel 1, Iranian TV on August 18, 2007:
Hossein Shariatmadari: I hate America's crimes very much. I detest the Zionists, and I hope that the day will come when the world is free of these germs of corruption and destruction.
During the 33-day war [in Lebanon], every day in the afternoon – I'd better not mention the exact time – we were in contact with the brothers in Hizbullah, and we would receive the latest news from the Lebanese front.
We wrote against the [Iranian-American] talks, and we continue to maintain this.
Interviewer: So what does this mean? Do you consider yourself above...?
Hossein Shariatmadari: No, it so happens that the most senior official in the regime [Khamenei] also opposes these talks. Several times, he said that the Americans are only interested in talks for the sake of talks. The Americans need... Our 28 years of resistance and steadfastness led to various developments in the world, such as Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas, the Intifada, the Islamic Jihad, the events taking place today in Turkey, in Algeria, and so on.
While the recent round of talks was being held between officials below the rank of ambassador, America transferred 30 billion dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, 13 billion dollars worth to Egypt, and 30 billion dollars worth to Israel. America justified this by saying it was intended as a measure vis-à-vis Iran.
Iranian man on the street: I remember that 30 years ago, Kayhan had the highest circulation. Today, in my opinion, it has the lowest. Even if I get to the newsstands late in the evening, there are still stacks of Kayhan.
Interviewer: Why is that?
Iranian man: Because the people don't like it.
Interviewer: They don't like it because it is devoid of content, and it takes a one-sided [ultra-conservative] approach.
Hossein Shariatmadari: After what happened following [my article] about Bahrain, some people accused us of hurting their feelings, and the feelings of the Arab governments. To this I responded: For more than twenty years, every time the Arab leaders convene – particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council – they declare in their communiqúes that the three islands belong to them. In my article, I presented evidence that those islands are, in fact, ours. So how come we don't say that the feelings of our people have been hurt, or that our national and religious sentiments have been hurt?
In addition, Bahrain was, indeed, ours.
Interviewer: But at present, when Iran is not interested in tension in the Persian Gulf...
Hossein Shariatmadari: Look, we do not want tension. If they really don't want these issues to be raised, they too should refrain from raising them.
Interviewer: Was it worth the price of having to send our foreign minister there to apologize?
Hossein Shariatmadari: Foreign Minister Mottaki's visit was planned in advance, but if he went there just to apologize, this was not a wise thing to do. He shouldn't have gone there.
Interviewer: But you left Iran no choice...
Hossein Shariatmadari: No, we are merely a newspaper that published an editorial...
Interviewer: But your paper is different from other newspapers, because of who you are...
Hossein Shariatmadari: In such cases, our foreign minister should first of all demand that they retract their statements. How come we never demand that they retract their statements?
Another example has to do with north and south Azerbaijan. When one of our leaders... During Khamenei's visit, he said that if we follow the logic, 17 cities across the border belong to us. That is the truth. Nakhchivan and the Caucasus used to belong to us. If we were to open the books of history, it would not be to their advantage. In addition, no Arab country has a history as a state going back over 100 years.