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  • March 1997

    Iran, EU Swap Insults, Not Envoys(April 30,1997)
    By AFSHIN VALINEJAD

    Associated Press Writer

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran retaliated for the European Union's decision to impose limited sanctions by announcing today that the ambassadors of Germany and Denmark were not welcome to return.

    Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered the Foreign Ministry not to allow the German ambassador back to Tehran ``for a period of time,'' the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

    Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told reporters that Iran was not interested in seeing either the German or Danish envoys.

    ``We do not welcome the return of some of the (EU) ambassadors, and Germany is one of them,'' Velayati told reporters. ``The (Danish) ambassador would not be welcome in Tehran, and if he doesn't come at all we don't mind and may even be happier.

    The spat over the diplomats came a day after the 15 EU countries agreed to limited diplomatic sanctions against Iran, essentially barring high-level ministerial meeting and banning Iranian intelligence officials from traveling to Europe.

    They also decided to maintain the suspension of their ``critical dialogue'' with Iran. The policy had been aimed at preserving economic ties while pressuring Iran to improve its human rights record.

    Still, EU foreign ministers agreed to send their envoys back to Tehran.

    Most had been withdrawn after a German court on April 10 linked Tehran's leaders to the 1992 assassination of four Iranian-Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant. The ``critical dialogue'' policy was suspended a day

    Germany's deputy foreign minister, Werner Hoyer, tried to smooth the waters today.

    ``We would be well-advised not to overrate the whole thing and to stay calm,'' he said.

    Denmark had no comment.

    President Hashemi Rafsanjani said today that the EU's decision to suspend its ``critical dialogue'' with Iran was meaningless since Tehran had stopped participating long ago.

    Rafsanjani also described the EU reaction to the court case as ``a disgrace.''

    He said the Europeans ``have engaged in propaganda intrigues, and indulged in stubborn and childish games.''

    The European Union has resisted cutting off talks altogether on grounds that this would make it more difficult to influence Tehran and would jeopardize profitable trade links.

    Russia, E.U. Won't Adopt Trade Sanctions On Iran
    Dow Jones Business News

    WASHINGTON -- Despite plans to reevaluate their dialogue with Iran, the European Union and Russia don't plan to cut off their trade with Iran, Washington representatives of those countries said Friday.

    'The isolation of Iran is unproductive,' Michael Konarovsky, political counselor of the Russian Embassy told a conference here on U.S.-Iran relations. 'Russia won't support any sanctions on that country. We continue to speak often with the Iranians.' Stefan Van-Wersch, first secretary of The Netherlands Embassy, which this year holds the European Union presidency, also said the E.U. doesn't plan to cut off trade with Iran. Van-Wersch acknowledged that the 15-nation E.U.'s policy toward Iran is 'in transition' after the recent Mykonos trial in Germany in which a Berlin court found the Iranian government responsible for the 1992 murder of four Kurdish-Iranian dissidents. The E.U. suspended its policy of critical dialogue with Iran after the verdict. On Monday, the E.U. will meet to review that decision and its overall policy toward Iran. 'I expect that the critical dialogue will remain suspended for some time, but a full cancellation of that dialogue is not likely,' Van-Wersch told the conference.

    Van-Wersch said that Monday's meeting of the E.U. nations will focus on making the critical dialogue policy more critical, saying: 'More sticks might be added to our carrots.' 'A greater convergence toward the U.S. policy (on Iran) is possible, but the E.U. signing on to the U.S. sanctions policy is not in the cards,' Van-Wersch said. He noted that none of the 15 E.U. members have called for trade sanctions against Iran and that the critical dialogue was a 'common denominator among 15 different policies, some of which might be even more disliked by the United States.'

    Van-Wersch added that there is a full consensus in Europe that extraterritorial sanctions such as the U.S. Iran-Libya Sanctions Act are unacceptable to the Europeans. Iran has too much strategic importance to Europe to be completely isolated, he said.

    By Laurie Lande 202-862-9291

    China, Iran Try To Ban Pictures From Cannes

    By Todd McCarthy

    HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - While the Cannes Film Festival is doing everything it can to put on its best face for its 50th birthday bash, which begins May 7, the governments of China and Iran are doing what they can to spoil the party.

    Chinese officials, reportedly steamed over the inclusion of the banned, gay-themed East Palace, West Palace in the Official Selection's Un Certain Regard section, have confiscated the passport of the film's director, Zhang Yuan. This signals that the helmer, who has been on a virtual government blacklist throughout his career, will not be permitted to accompany his film to the fest. Iranian authorities have issued a total ban on The Taste of Cherry, the latest work by the nation's leading director, Abbas Kiarostami. For the moment, at least, this prevents the drama from being shown either inside or outside Iran. The picture deals with a man who is considering suicide, a subject considered unmentionable under fundamentalist Islam.

    An Iranian industry figure close to the situation, who insisted upon anonymity, suggested that with elections coming up next month, no one wanted to take responsibility for a decision that could have internal repercussions. However, Kiarostami, whose last film, Through the Olive Trees, showed at Cannes, is understood to be taking the matter to officials in the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Another insider suggested that there may be a "shadow of a glimmer of hope," however slight, that the ban may be reversed in time for the picture to screen in the Cannes competition. Festival director Gilles Jacob has stated that he would welcome the film should it become available.

    Taste of Cherry has not been seen by anyone, including festival officials, but its urban setting marks a significant departure from Kiarostami's recent, rural-set work. Part of the film is said to have been irreparably damaged in a lab, and the director reportedly reshot its final section to give the story more hope at the end. As for Zhang Yuan, his passport was taken by officials when he re-entered China on April 10. East Palace, West Palace, which was also once known under the title Behind the Forbidden City, was the first festival selection announced by Jacob, early in the year. Unlike Kiarostami's picture, the festival has a print of Palace in France, so the screening can proceed with or without the director present.

    However, it remains to be seen how far the Chinese will go to express their displeasure with the film's presentation. Zhang Yimou, who was not allowed out of China to accompany his To Live to Cannes in 1994, has his new picture, Keep Cool, in the competition this year. Thus far, there has been no signal whether the Chinese will greenlight a trip by him to France next month, or try to punish Cannes for showing Palace by keeping Zhang Yimou, along with Zhang Yuan, at home. Chinese star Gong Li is set to do jury duty in Cannes, but authorities are not known to have interfered with her movements in the past, and her status as a Hong Kong resident by marriage may put her above the fray.

    Palace, which is listed by the festival as a Chinese-French co-production, was produced by a French company called Quelqu'un d'autre Prods., with the participation of the French Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although shot in Beijing, it went through post-production in France and was previously shown at festivals in Pusan, South Korea, and at Mar del Plata, Argentina. Zhang himself directed a theater version at the Brussels Festival des Arts last May. The story concerns a Beijing cop who harasses, then arrests, an effeminate young man at a park known as a gay hangout near the Forbidden City. At the police station, the cop becomes increasingly aggressive, while the young man tauntingly challenges his tormentor's heterosexuality. Title allegedly is gay slang for the public toilets on either side of Tianenmen Square.

    Zhang Yuan has been a problem child for Chinese authorities ever since he began his career in the early 1990s. His 1993 feature Beijing Bastards was banned and never shown in China, although it did attract considerable notice on the international fest circuit. That same year, the Chinese government essentially blacklisted him by instructing every studio in the country to have nothing to do with him. Nonetheless, he has managed to scrape together funding for two subsequent features, The Square and Sons, which popped up at some festivals, and he has been making quite a few music videos on the side.

    US Sanctions Not Ending Foreign Investment In Iran(April 25,1997)
    Dow Jones Business News

    WASHINGTON -- U.S. policies to prevent foreign investments in Iran's energy sector are reducing, but not stopping, foreign investment in that country, a leading oil analyst said Friday. Speaking to a conference on U.S.-Iran relations, John H. Lichtblau of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation noted that Iran's offshore oil sector needs 'substantial foreign investment' in order to expand offshore production from the current level of 550,000 barrels a day to about 1 million b/d by the year 2000.

    Lichtblau noted that the U.S. Iran-Libya Sanctions Act as well as the U.S. embargo of Iran have kept U.S. and some foreign companies from investing in Tehran's oil sector. 'However, foreign companies with little or no investment or sales in the U.S. market face no constraints,' he said. Lichtblau pointed as an example to the Malaysian national oil company Petronas, which has recently taken a share in the French company Total Petroleum NA's (TPN) oil project in Iran. Last year, Total signed a $600 million contract with Iran to develop two offshore natural gas fields.

    Iran has been able to increase its crude production without foreign investment to about 3.6 million b/d in 1993 from 2.3 million b/d at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Lichtblau noted.

    'With some limited foreign investments certain in its offshore sector, Iranian production is likely to grow moderately despite U.S. sanctions, though at a slower rate than if there were no sanctions,' he said.

    By Laurie Lande 202-862-9291

    Iran Forces End Largest Mock War(April 25,1997)
    By AFSHIN VALINEJAD- Associated Press Writer- 1:17 pm EDT

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran on Friday concluded military exercises in which some 200,000 troops staged mock air, ground and naval battles in the strategic Persian Gulf, state-run radio said.

    The war games were the largest ever conducted by Iran.

    Tehran radio said that in the final exercise Friday, naval and ground forces launched an assault on mock ``enemy'' forces on the islands of Qeshm and Hengam in the Persian Gulf.

    Battleships and speedboats fired missiles, then artillery and tank units moved in for a final blow, the radio said.

    ``All enemy positions were conquered,'' the state-run radio reported.

    The exercises, named Road to Jerusalem, were supervised by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who also serves as military commander-in-chief. They started late Tuesday.

    The maneuvers have been given widespread coverage inside Iran, with parts broadcast live on television.

    In a sermon at Tehran University on the Muslim holy day Friday, Ayatollah Emami Kashani, a senior cleric, said the exercises would ``disappoint the enemies of the Islamic Republic'' who would realize that ``the enemy cannot penetrate into this country.''

    Iran fought a 1980-88 war with Iraq, but it considers some 20 U.S. warships that regularly patrol the Gulf as a more immediate threat.

    Iran has warned against any country using force against it since reports last year that the United States was considering missile strikes if Iran was implicated in a bombing in Saudi Arabia. A truck bomb at an apartment complex housing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in June killed 19 American servicemen; Iran denies involvement.

    The Iranians stage several large military maneuvers inside the country and in the gulf every year. But the latest amphibious exercises were unprecedented in scale.

    They involved 200,000 Revolutionary Guards and Islamic volunteers and stretched 1,250 miles along Iran's entire coast.

    Tehran radio had said anti-ship, anti-aircraft and surface-to-surface missiles would be tested during the war games.

    Western intelligence officials say Iran has been trying to increase the range of its missiles with help from China, North Korea and Russia.

    Also Friday, Iranians rallied to mark the anniversary of the failed U.S. attempt to rescue American Embassy hostages in 1980, Tehran radio reported.

    It did not say how many people attended the rally in the northeastern town of Tabas but aired shouts of ``Death to America'' that were chanted at the protest.

    The state-run radio said the rally marked ``America's humiliating defeat in the deserts of Tabas.''

    Eight U.S. servicemen died on April 25, 1980, when a U.S. helicopter and transport plane collided and burst into flames at a rendezvous in the Iranian desert.

    Then-President Carter sent the mission to rescue 52 Americans held hostage at the U.S. mission in Tehran in the wake of Iran's Islamic revolution. The hostages were freed as part of a political settlement on Jan. 20, 1981.

    Iran Is Ruled Guilty, but Will Europe Punish It?(April 25,1997)
    Gail Russell Chaddock, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

    PARIS- At least 60 critics of the regime in Iran have been murdered in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution, but until an April 10 decision by a German judge, no European court had blamed Iran for the crimes.

    Now Europeans must decide how sharply the German case will alter their own relations with the regime. Hours after the Berlin verdict, 14 of the 15 members of the European Union (EU) recalled ambassadors from Iran and formally suspended a five-year "critical dialogue" with that country. On Tuesday, European foreign ministers will meet to decide whether to lift the suspension or to take stronger punitive action.

    Until the Berlin ruling, Europeans had argued that there was no evidence to support the American claim that Iran is committing terrorist acts in Europe. The German judge left little doubt: The 1992 order to assassinate four Iranian Kurd leaders in a Berlin restaurant came from the "Committee for Special Operations," he said. That committee includes Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Secret Service chief Ali Fallahian, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

    Easing tensions with US
    Washington applauded the decision as a vindication of its own policy of isolating Iran as a "rogue state" that sponsors terrorism around the world. This week, a US State Department delegation visited The Hague, Paris, Bonn, and London to urge Europeans to "take advantage of the opening we all have to reengineer a common policy against Iran."

    A day after the Berlin verdict, Washington also agreed to shelter European companies from provisions of the D'Amato law, citing the speed of the European response to the German case. The US law penalizes foreign companies investing in Iran and Libya and has been a major sticking point in US-European relations.

    While Europeans welcome the more conciliatory American attitude toward Europe's Iran policy, they are unlikely to back stronger measures against Iran at next week's meeting. Instead, they are likely to agree on a coordinated return of ambassadors and set terms for a new talks with Iran. "It's important to keep some form of dialogue with Iran. The US policy of containment has not been an effective method," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux Wednesday. "But we've made it very clear to Iran that they can't use European territory to settle political accounts."

    "Commerce and politics should be kept separate," adds a French official.

    German diplomats have also rejected joining an economic embargo on Iran in retaliation for terrorist acts. "The 'critical dialogue' may be at an end, but Germany and Europe must maintain contact with Tehran. With 65 million inhabitants, Iran isn't a small state, but a regional power in the Persian Gulf, a military power, and one of the principal actors in in the Middle East," argued the influential Munich Daily Süddeutsche Zeitung last week.

    "Down the line, Iran is going to be the key market and superpower in the region. That's where the deals will be made, and competition is keen among Europeans to have a piece of it.... They may take a baby step backwards after [the Berlin verdict], but they will be right back in the game very soon," says James Bill, an Iran expert and director of international relations at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

    Change of pace for Iran?
    But the legal implications of the Berlin decision for curbing terrorist acts in Europe may have more of an impact in Iran.

    In the past, Tehran has pressured European governments to blunt the impact of terrorist investigations in Europe, citing Iranian help in obtaining the release of European hostages or, indirectly, threatening reprisals in Europe such as the 1986 wave of terrorist bombings in Paris. The Berlin ruling broke the assumption that no European court would dare implicate the Iranian government in terrorist acts.

    For example, in December 1993, France refused to extradite two suspects wanted by Swiss courts in connection with the 1990 murder of Kazem Radjavi, the brother of an Iranian resistance leader, citing "the superior interests of the state." This was in spite of the fact that the Swiss judge investigating the case had argued that preliminary evidence suggested that one or more official Iranian services were directly involved in the assassination.

    A French court investigating the 1991 killing of Chapour Bakhtiar, a prominent dissident and former Iranian president, in Paris condemned the murderers, but stopped short of naming Iranian government officials as responsible for the killings - a point praised by the official Iranian press, which followed the case.

    Iranian dissidents say that a 1990 French presidential pardon for Anis Naccache, a terrorist convicted of a first attempt to murder Bakhtiar, was a signal that Iran could strike again with impunity. Iranian-backed groups in Lebanon had demanded the release of Mr. Naccache in exchange for the release of French hostages in Lebanon.

    Iran tries to squelch case
    Tehran publicly pressured the German government to squelch the Berlin case, citing the help Iranian diplomats had provided in obtaining the release of German hostages in Lebanon. But foreign ministry officials say they refused to try to influence the case.

    He also solicited testimony from a wide range of Iranian exiles, including former Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr.

    Mr. Bani-Sadr's testimony, along with that of a former Iranian intelligence officer, was key to establishing the involvement of top Iranian officials in the Berlin case.

    "There is very little doubt that Iran has been involved in violent activity in Europe for control of the revolution. But ... it's important to look at the whole mosaic," says Professor Bill.

    "In a regional context, Iran has been a responsible and constructive force for peace in Central Asia, where it has mediated talks between coreligionists and former Communists - and where it is in a position to stir up trouble if it wanted to," he adds.

    Opinion Poll of the Iran's presidential race(April 25,1997)

    IRAN NEWS

    An opinion poll on the presidential elections Statement by the Islamic Association of Medical Sciences University of Arak Thursday, April 17, 1997 In a tentative presidential election held at six polling stations at the various faculties and hospitals of the Medical Science University of Arak (Central Province) , Hojj. Seyed Mohammad Khatami scored the highest number of votes.

    According to a statement issued by the Islamic Association of the university, the following results were obtained:

    1. Hojj. Seyed Mohammad Khatami 60.32%

    2. Hojj. Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri 17.86%

    3. Hojj. Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri 8.93%

    4. Dr. Habibollah Peyman 5.34%

    5. Eng. Ezatollah Sahabi 4.36%

    6. Dr. Ibrahim Yazdi 2.58%

    7. Eng. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi 0.39%

    8. Seyed Reza Zavarei 0.16%

    Iran Says War Games Pose No Threat(April 23,1997)
    Wednesday, April 23, 1997 8:05 pm EDT

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader Wednesday capped the second day of the country's largest-ever military exercises with assurances that the country's show of military might poses no threat to its Persian Gulf neighbors.

    ``Our maneuvers do not threaten any neighbor, any nation or government,'' Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a nationally televised speech to Iranian soldiers.

    More than 200,000 Revolutionary Guards and volunteers, along with an arsenal of new weapons, are being showcased in the three-day war games near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, gateway for about one-fifth of the world's oil supplies.

    The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaie, said the maneuvers were aimed at proving Iran's military strength to its Persian Gulf neighbors and to the United States and Israel, which Tehran considers its archenemies.

    Tehran radio reported that Khamenei began the second day of maneuvers -- dubbed Tariq-ol-Qods or the Road to Jerusalem -- with a parade of about 200 navy ships. It said the fleet included the Ashura fast attack boat and the Tondar missile-launching vessel.

    Tehran radio, quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, said Khamenei also inspected missile projects Wednesday, but it gave no details.

    On Tuesday IRNA quoted Brig. Gen. Rahim Safavi, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, as saying that Guards' experts and engineers had the technical know-how to build various missiles.

    He said Iran's arsenal of surface-to-surface, anti-ship and anti-air missiles would be tested during the war games.

    Western intelligence sources say Iran has been trying to increase the range of its missiles with help from China, North Korea and Russia.

    Russia has denied reports earlier this year that it provided Iran with the technology to build SS-4 missiles, which have a 1,250-mile range -- three times greater than current Iranian missiles. The missiles could threaten Israel and U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

    In its massive rearmament program after the 1980-88 war with Iraq, Iran has concentrated most on boosting its naval might.

    It has acquired three Russian-built Kilo-class submarines, 10 Hudong fast-attack boats from China, and has 25 ships capable of carrying surface-to-surface missiles, plus a number of small logistics ships.

    The Iranians also have deployed anti-ship and anti-air missiles on strategic islands in the Gulf.

    Iran has never disclosed its naval strategy, but it appears based on gaining the potential to close off the Strait of Hormuz and choking off oil supplies to the industrialized world. But the United States has a sizable air and naval force in the region to safeguard its interests.

    Iran routinely criticizes the presence of U.S. forces in the Gulf, which it regards as its own sphere of influence.

    In his speech Wednesday, Khamenei accused the United States and Israel of sowing fears in the Persian Gulf about Tehran's intentions.

    ``The Iranian nation poses no threat to the Persian Gulf and neighboring countries or any other country which does not attack it,'' he said in the address, which was monitored by the London-based British Broadcasting Corp.

    Iran To Start Tues. 3 Days Of War Games On Persian Gulf Coast(April 22,1997)
    Dow Jones Business News

    April 22, 1997

    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran will test various missiles and carry out air, sea and land operations on its southern Persian Gulf coast in three-day war games beginning Tuesday, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday.

    IRNA quoted Brigadier General Rahim Safavi, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, as saying that the exercises would involve 200,000 men. 'The exercises aim to upgrade the military and defense capability of the (guard corps) forces,' IRNA quoted Safavi as saying. Safavi said the maneuvers don'tt threaten any country.

    Western intelligence sources say Iran has been trying to increase the range of its missiles with help from China, North Korea and Russia. Earlier this year, there were reports that Moscow had provided Iran with the technology to build Russian SS-4 missiles, which have a 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) range. That's almost three times greater than any missile now in its arsenal. Those missiles could threaten U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, neighboring Gulf countries and Israel.

    Russian intelligence officials and arms exporters have denied there is any missile deal. Tuesday's war games are code-named 'Tariq-ol-Quds,' or 'the Road to Jerusalem,' Safavi said.

    The U.S. military presence in the Gulf is meant to deter Iraq from repeating its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and to keep an eye on Iran. The two Muslim nations are viewed by the U.S. as the main threats in the oil-rich Gulf region.

    Iran To Test Missiles, Upgrade Defense In Military Exercises

    TEHRAN (AP)--Iran will test various missiles and carry out air, sea and land operations in three-day war games beginning Tuesday on its southern Gulf coast, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

    It quoted Brig. Gen. Rahim Safavi, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, as saying that the exercises would involve 200,000 men. 'The exercises aim to upgrade the military and defense capability of the (guard corps) forces,' IRNA quoted Safavi as saying. He said the maneuvers did not threaten any country. Safavi added that corps' experts and engineers had the technical know-how to build various missiles.

    Western intelligence sources say Iran has been trying to increase the range of its missiles with help from China, North Korea and Russia. Earlier this year, there were reports that Moscow had provided Iran with the technology to build Russian SS-4 missiles, which have a 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) range. That's almost three times greater than any missile now in Iran's arsenal. The missiles could threaten U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, neighboring Gulf countries and Israel. Russian intelligence officials and arms exporters have denied there is any missile deal.

    Tuesday's war games are code-named 'Tariq-ol-Quds,' or 'the Road to Jerusalem,' Safavi said. Iran, which regularly conducts war games in the Gulf, has been rebuilding its military strength since the end of its 1980-88 war against neighboring Iraq. Iran has a combined armed force of more than 600,000 troops, among the largest in the Middle East. Last year 200,000 men took part in military exercises inside Iran. Iran routinely criticizes the presence of U.S. forces in the Gulf, which it regards as its own sphere of influence. It often urges pro-Western Gulf Arab states to join it in a regional defense alliance that would give no role to the United States.

    U.S. envoy meets French officials over Iran(April 22,1997)
    April 22, 1997

    PARIS, April 22 (Reuter) - A United States envoy seeking to persuade European countries to join the U.S. hard line against Iran met in Paris on Tuesday with senior French foreign ministry officials, diplomats said. Peter Tarnoff, until recently the State Department's number three official, was received by Foreign ministry Secretary-General Bertrand Dufourq and other officials, diplomats told Reuters. No details of the meeting were immediately available and the diplomats said they expected Tarnoff, who arrived in Paris after visits to The Hague and Bonn, to leave later in the day for London.

    State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns told reporters on Monday in Washington that Tarnoff's mission was ``to explore with our allies practical steps that the international community can take to change Iran's objectionable behaviour, including its support for terrorism, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and its position to the Middle East peace process.''

    French Foreign ministry spokesman Jacques Ruummelhardt, answering questions before the meeting took place, said it would be devoted to ``studying an array of international questions'' but he would not confirm the main topic was Iran. Until recently, the United States and Europe had been at logggerheads over Iran, with Washington taking a strict policy of containment bolstered by tough sanctions and the Europeans pursuing what they called a ``critical dialogue.'' But a Berlin court finding on April 10 that Iranian leaders ordered the murders of three Kurdish dissidents and their interpreter has led most European Union countries to withdraw their ambassadors from Tehran and to drop the policy of dialogue.

    Burns said the German ruling provided a ``window of opportunity'' and that one of Tarnoff's aims was to try to influence European thinking before EU foreign ministers discuss Iran during a meeting in Luxembourg April 29. France however played down Tarnoff's visit and the Foreign ministry, which would not confirm when the meeting began, said there would be no access for the press to the participants. Burns said Washington wanted to ``fashion mutual joint policies with the Europeans that will gather the strategic objective that I think we do share with the European Union. And that is, can we modify Iran's behaviour?''

    Burns said that although Washington's ``ideal scenario'' would be for the Europeans to adopt the same trade sanctions against Iran as the United States has done, he doubted that was realistic.

    Australia Seeking To Increase Trade With Iran
    Dow Jones Business News

    April 21, 1997

    Australia Seeking To Increase Trade With Iran - Report

    MANAMA -- Just few days after it pulled away from a European backlash on Iran, Australia says it wants to increase trade exchange with Iran, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Monday. IRNA reported Australia's Ambassador to Tehran, Stuart Hume, as telling local newspaper 'Iran News' that his country considers Iran as a politically and economically important country in the Middle East.

    Hume returned to Tehran Friday after he was recalled home following a German court ruling that blamed Iranian leaders for ordering the killing of dissidents in Germany. Iran, outraged at both Australia and neighboring New Zealand, threatened to cut lucrative trade contracts with both countries.

    New Zealand's Ambassador to Iran Daniel Richards has also returned to Tehran. IRNA quoted Hume as saying his country is trying to explore fresh avenues for reciprocal cooperation with Iran, including further cooperation in mining, agriculture and sugar trade.

    Other potential areas for cooperation include technology, traffic control mechanisms and medical supplies, Hume added. Iran is a major trade partner with Australia. It imported around 1.88 million tons of Australian wheat in 1996.


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