President Clinton Says He Is Encouraged by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's Friendly Overture and Would Consider Possibility of U.S.-Iran Talks

``It was welcomed,'' Clinton said after an unrelated meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. ``I would like nothing better than to have a dialogue with Iran, as long as we can have an honest discussion of all the relevant issues.''

Clinton defined those issues as the sponsorship of terrorism, ``violent attacks'' on the Mideast peace process and the ``development or acquisition'' of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

``We will continue to be concerned about those things,'' Clinton said. ``But I was quite encouraged by the president's statement, and I think the American people should be.''

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami praised the United States on Sunday, referring to ``the great American people'' and saying he wanted a dialogue ``in the not too distant future.'' It was the strongest gesture of reconciliation since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979.