VATICAN CITY - Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met yesterday with Pope Benedict XVI for talks the Vatican hoped would help heal tensions left from the pontiff's remarks on Islam and violence.

Khatami, a reformist in power from 1997 to 2005, had been scheduled to meet with Benedict in October but the meeting was canceled. No reason was given, but it was just weeks after Benedict's speech in Germany about Islam touched off protests across the Muslim world.

Visiting a Catholic university in Rome before the talks, Khatami said that "unfortunately the wounds of this world are very deep and they cannot be healed easily and a single meeting may not be enough."

Relations between Muslims and Christians were badly strained after Benedict quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman." *