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August 99, Week 2
|Total Eclipse Darkens Iranian Provinces||August 12|
|Former U.S. Astronaut in Iran for Eclipse||August 10|
|Iran Welcomes NORWAY'S Move to Resume Full Diplomatic Ties||August 8|
Total Eclipse Darkens Iranian Provinces
TEHRAN - XINHUA - This century's last solar eclipse was observed in
many parts of Iran, attracting thousands of foreign scientists and tourists
and driving people to mosques for mass prayers. |
According to local media, the solar eclipse began to darken the sky over Maku, West Azarbaijan province, and then took place in other regions.
Total solar eclipse was seen in the provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Lorestan, Isfahan, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchestan. In the capital of Tehran, only partial eclipse was seen, which began after 3:00 a.m. (1030 GMT) and lasted for about half an hour.
But Isfahan, an ancient city in central Iran, provided best view of the eclipse. In accordance with Islamic traditions, solar and lunar eclipse, and natural disasters such as earthquakes, beget mass prayers.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that many civil servants left office early for safety reasons, causing traffic jams; and many people preferred to stay home to watch the eclipse on television, which broadcast live from various cities. Since a few weeks ago, health authorities have launched extensive programs via mass media to publicize the knowledge of solar eclipse and warn people to avoid looking directly when the sky darkens.
Former U.S. Astronaut in Iran for Eclipse
TEHRAN, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A veteran of the U.S. Apollo space programme
and a rare celebrity from the so-called "Great Satan" is in Iran to view
the last total eclipse of the millennium, officials said on Tuesday. |
Former astronaut Russell Schweickart, who made a space walk in 1969 as part of the Apollo 9 mission, was to speak at a scientific conference in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, rated by NASA as one of the best spots in the world to see the eclipse.
Ali Mohammad Nourian, head of Iran's meteorological organisation, said the U.S. astronaut was the guest of a private Iranian scientific foundation. He was also expected to tour several provincial tourist centres, Nourian said. Visits from U.S. citizens, particularly those perceived as close to U.S. officialdom, remain a highly volatile issue in the Islamic republic, which has not had diplomatic ties with the United States since the American embassy in Tehran was stormed two decades ago.
The United States is routinely denounced in Iran as the "Great Satan." Hardline vigilantes attacked a bus carrying visiting U.S. business executives last summer.
No one was injured but a number of similar trips were cancelled or postponed indefinitely as a result of the attack. One hardline newspaper has already denounced U.S. participation in the Isfahan seminar, warning that American scientists were out to infiltrate Iran's centres of learning. Such sensitivies encouraged the government to change the programme of an eclipse extravaganza in the western town of Nahavand. A dance concert was cancelled for fears of angering traditionalist clerics, who are against such activities.
Authorities have laid on facilities for some 1,200 foreign guests, including diplomats and researchers, at Nahavand. About 40,000 Iranian tourists are also expected at the site. Authorities have also filled newspapers and airwaves with health warnings about the dangers of solar radiation and urging people to watch the event live on television.
Government organisations say they have been handing out around 80,000 pairs of safety glasses to shield spectators' eyes from the sun's harmful rays during the eclipse. Another 100,000 have gone on sale commercially, newspapers said.
Iran Welcomes NORWAY'S Move to Resume Full Diplomatic Ties
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Iran on Monday welcomed Norwegian government's move to
resume full diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said that Iran-Norway relations have
experienced a four-year break since 1995, and that Norway's decision to send its
ambassador to Tehran would serve to develop bilateral cooperation.|
The two countries lowered their diplomatic relations in 1995 after recalling their ambassadors, mainly because of Oslo's support to the British author Salman Rushdie and Tehran's refusal to stop executing the death sentence on Rushdie ordered by its late spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeni.
Rushdie was condemned to death in 1989 by Komeni for his novel, the Satanic Verses, which was regarded blasphemous and insulting to Islam. Asefi said Norway is willing to increase trade and economic cooperation with Iran and Iran, for its part, would lift trade barriers with Norway. Norway, which sees Iran as a big market for its oil and gas technology, decided in June to normalize trade relations with it.
The Scandinavian country has sent Svein Aass, its deputy representative at the United Nations, as its ambassador to Tehran. Iran said it would introduce ambassador to Oslo soon.