Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's designated successor says Iran must change its international image as a nation of killers who have "frightened the world."

Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, in a speech reported Sunday by Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency, said Tehran authorities were giving the impression abroad that killing was the only task of the 10-year-old revolution.The white-bearded cleric praised Khomeini's recent granting of amnesty for political prisoners and told followers in Qom, the stronghold of the ruling mullahs, that jails should be emptied, torture stopped and exiles allowed to return home.

Montazeri avoided any direct attack on Khomeini, who has not been seen in public since June.

"On many occasions we showed obstinacy, shouted slogans and frightened the world. The people of the world thought our only task here in Iran was to kill," he said.

Montazeri was addressing large crowds of followers gathered in Qom, Khomeini's spiritual base.