Pope Benedict XVI supports Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, reports a local news agency.
The pope was speaking in a meeting in the Vatican with former Iranian president and head of the International Centre of Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations Mohammad Khatami on Friday.
Like other big states, Iran should use peaceful nuclear energy, he said.
He pointed to freedom of religions in Iran and added there was peaceful coexistence and respect among religions in the country.
He said he was informed that religious minorities have MPs in Iran's parliament and their rights are respected.
Referring to escalation of tension and aggravation of political and security problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the occupied Palestine, the pope said Europe is well aware of Iran's power in the region.
By relying on its peaceful policies, said the pope, Iran can play an important role in resolving regional problems and crises.
Meanwhile, Khatami said, "Today, Muslims, Christians and followers of other religions should stress on their commonalties and strive to maintain unity in the face of insecurity and violence." The former president regarded lack of kindness and justice as the root cause of main problems for mankind.
Stressing Iran's right to acquire nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he said, "Execution of unfair and double standards are among realities which create problems."
Pointing to problems in Palestine, the former president said, "It should be admitted that peace plans set forth for Palestine so far have not been fair.
"Those who claimed they were implementing the plans were not fair and impartial," he said.
Khatami also criticised continued occupation of Iraq by the US and its allies, and said it has given rise to insecurity, extremism, terrorism and caused massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the country.