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January 2000, Week 3
|Iranian Foreign Minister Reaffirms U.S. Policy||January 21|
|German Businessman Leaving Iran||January 20|
|Iranian Hard-Line Assembly Forms Committee||January 19|
|US Faulted on Iran Nuke Containment||January 17|
|Soccer: Iran 1, U.S. 1||January 16|
Iranian Foreign Minister Reaffirms U.S. Policy
ANKARA -XINHUA - Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi indicated on Wednesday that Iran has no intention to soften its attitude toward the United States at present. |
The tone of the statement appeared in contrast with a big fanfare of so-called "soccer diplomacy" between Iran and the United States earlier this week. The Iranian national football team, completing its three-game visit to the U.S., played an exhibition match with the U.S. team before a crowd of nearly 50,000 football fans at the Pasadena Stadium, California, Monday. During the pre-game introductions, the American players presented flowers to the Iranians. At the 1998 World Cup, Iran's players had given flowers to U.S. players in an exchange of gifts.
"Right now, we are not intending to build friendly relations with the U.S.," Kharrazi told reporters at Istanbul's Conrad Hotel, reported the Anatolia News Agency. Kharrazi accused Washington of disregarding the fact that Iran is an important and powerful country in the region. "Recently, friends of the U.S. are changing their relations with Iran," he noted, referring apparently to Britain.
Kharrazi recently paid an official visit to London upon invitation, a move that was described as a breakthrough in the relations between Britain and Iran. "The U.S. will also have to alter its attitude toward Iran," Kharrazi said. "If they change their attitude, start understanding us and act sincerely, then maybe our opinions will change."
The Iranian foreign minister arrived in Turkey for a two-day visit Tuesday. During his stay in Ankara, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit received him respectively. An memorandum of understanding between the two big Islamic neighbors was signed by him and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.
German Businessman Leaving Iran
By Afshin Valinejad|
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, IRAN- Almost a year after his death sentence for having sex with an Iranian woman was overturned, a German businessman was fined for insulting a police officer and allowed to leave Iran today.
Helmut Hofer was fined $6,670 by a Tehran judge who said the German businessman could leave the country as soon as he paid. German diplomats paid the fine.
"I am very happy, and I'm leaving Iran tomorrow," Hofer told reporters in English after leaving the court building in the company of German diplomats. "I want to thank all my friends in Germany and Iran, everyone who helped me in this case."
The charge of insulting a police officer was the latest episode in the 56-year-old Hofer's long ordeal with Iranian justice.
In January 1998, Hofer was sentenced to death for his illicit relationship with a 26-year-old Iranian medical student. Under Iranian law, sex outside marriage is punishable by flogging, but if the man is not a Muslim, he faces the death penalty.
Iran's Justice Ministry ordered a retrial after Hofer insisted he had converted to Islam before he had sex with the woman. However, he was again convicted and sentenced to death.
In February 1999, the Supreme Court annulled the death sentence and ordered a second retrial in the General Court. Hofer was then acquitted for lack of evidence.
Germany, an important European trading partner for Iran, had warned Iran that Hofer's execution would severely harm bilateral relations.
In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry said it was relieved to hear of the court's decision. "Mr. Hofer's departure will end one of the hardest phases of his life," the ministry said in a statement. "The German government has worked intensively from the beginning for Hofer's release."
Hofer has been in and out of prison during his legal battle. He was free on $166,000 bail in April, but sent back to prison in August because Iranian officials said they feared he would flee. He was again freed last December, that time on $33,000 bail.
Hofer's whereabouts since December were kept secret, but he was believed staying with German diplomats.
Iranian Hard-Line Assembly Forms Committee to Protect Leader
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A hard-line Iranian assembly reportedly has formed a committee to safeguard the authority of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. |
"The responsibility of this committee is to spell out the authority of the leader logically and protect it against possible doubts raised naturally in the society or injected artificially from abroad," Tuesday's Arya daily quoted a member of the Experts Assembly as saying.
The Experts Assembly, which elects and supervises the supreme leader, last week condemned any opposition to Khamenei and appealed to voters "not to elect pro-West" candidates in the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections. The elections are shaping up as a showdown between candidates calling for more openness and those who fear the Islamic roots of Iran's 1979 revolution are being forgotten.
Khamenei has the final say on all matters and has direct control of the Intelligence Ministry, the judiciary, the armed forces, and the broadcast network. Jailed reformist Abdullah Nouri recently criticized Khamenei and said he was not above the law. Nouri, a former interior minister and close ally of Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami, was sentenced last year to five years in jail for religious dissent.
Since his landslide election in 1997, Khatami has pushed for political reform, calling for an easing of strict social codes and greater freedom of speech. Khamenei, who leads the hard-liners, has used his absolute powers to stall reforms.
US Faulted on Iran Nuke Containment
By Laurie Copans|
Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM - A senior Israeli defense official says U.S. efforts to contain Iran's nuclear capability are a failure partly because of Europe's refusal to cooperate and it's time to develop new strategies.
Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Tuesday that a news report this week claiming that the CIA believes Iran may be able to make nuclear weapons has sparked alarm in Israel.
"The United States, to tell the truth, failed in its efforts to prevent this project," Sneh, who often speaks for Prime Minister Ehud Barak, told Israel radio. "We need to continue to build against them a wall of deterrence, perhaps different and greater than the one we have today."
He would not elaborate, but Israel is actively pursuing peace talks with Syria one of Iran's only allies in an effort to isolate the Islamic state, which Israel has long designated as the most potent threat in the region.
Sneh said Israel will continue to develop its military deterrence capabilities to counter Iranian missiles with a range large enough to strike Israel, Sneh added.
"It's clear that such missiles with such a large radius and warhead capability are not intended to solve their problems with Iraq, their enemy neighbor," Sneh said.
Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons of its own, but has never publicly acknowledged possessing them. Western intelligence reports say the country is the only nuclear power in the Mideast, and has a significant stockpile.
The New York Times reported Monday that the CIA could no longer rule out that Iran may be able to make a nuclear bomb.
American and Israeli concern over the Iranian projects has grown in the face of unsuccessful White House efforts to persuade Russia not to provide missile and nuclear-power technology to Iran.
Russian engineers are already building one reactor at a site in southern Iran under an existing contract.
Sneh also blamed European states seeking to expand trade with Iran for not cooperating with the U.S. efforts to stem the flow of nuclear know-how into the Islamic state.
"European nations did not help the United States with this and they weren't really cooperative in the coalition against Iranian achievement of nuclear capability," he said.
Sneh hinted that Israel may take action to halt Iranian nuclear projects but said he would not specify.
"There is a list of other things" that must be done, he said. "But I'm not sure they should be discussed publicly."
Sneh has said in the past that Israel should consider a pre-emptive strike on Iran to destroy its nuclear capabilities. In 1981, Israeli fighter bombers destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq shortly before it was to become operational. Israel believed the reactor would be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Israel also has successfully tested the anti-missile Arrow system, which was developed in part as a defense against Iran's Shahab-3 missile.
Soccer: Iran 1, U.S. 1
By Ken Peters|
AP Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. -It seemed mostly an Iranian-American festival, with a soccer match as the featured attraction.
After the United States and Iran played to a 1-1 tie Sunday before a spirited Rose Bowl crowd that heavily favored Iran, American coach Bruce Arena said he wouldn't mind doing it again.
"It was a great match and we would love an opportunity to play Iran again," Arena said. "It was a well-played game, both sides showed good sportsmanship, and it was a fair result."
The game was a rematch of the 1998 World Cup game between Iran and the United States in France, when Iran took a stunning 2-1 victory. But this time, it was merely an exhibition, or "friendly," match, with nothing at stake except pride.
The U.S. team dominated the tempo, getting off 18 shots to nine by Iran. But the only scoring came on Mehdi Mahdavikia's goal in the seventh minute, and Chris Armas' tying score for the United States in the 48th.
The Iranian-American community in and around Los Angeles numbers as many 600,000 and was well-represented at the Rose Bowl, with some 90 percent of the crowd of 49,212 chanting, "IRAN! IRAN!" throughout the match.
The game was the third in the United States for the Iranian team, on a brief "soccer diplomacy" tour. The two nations do not have formal diplomatic relations.
As often is the case when the U.S. team plays another country's national team in the Los Angeles area, the Americans seemed to be the visitors, with red, white and blue flags in the minority in the stands.
This time most of the American flags displayed were by fans with an Iranian flag in their other hand. Many in the crowd also had an Iranian flag painted on one cheek and an American flag on the other.
Arena was disappointed the crowd didn't have more fans cheering for the U.S. team.
"I think it's about time people started getting behind our national team," he said.
The U.S. team is greatly changed from the one that lost to Iran in Lyon in 1998. Arena took over as coach after Steve Sampson resigned in the wake of the Americans' failure to win a game in the World Cup.
Only four starters Sunday Cobi Jones, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Frank Hejduk were starters in France.
The Americans, who hadn't played for several months, looked rusty early, particularly on defense, but picked up steam as the game went on.
"The first half, we didn't do a good job on (Khodadad) Azizi; he got the ball his share of times and was splitting our defense," Arena said. "But the last 65 minutes, I thought we played quite well.
"We were not a fit team. Most of the players have been off for two or three months."
Arena and the players on the revamped team see it as a work in progress, and didn't appear to be particularly concerned with the outcome of the game.
"For us, it was the first game of the year and we approached it like any other game," Armas said.
Iran coach Mansour Pourhaidari was pleased with his team's performance, but not with the final score. Iran, like the United States, had several near-misses at the goal.
"Every coach wants to win. We wanted to win, and maybe with a little more concentration, we could have come out with the result," he said.
Jones, able to dribble the ball consistently on the right wing, helped the United States stay on the attack, and his cross set up the tying goal. Dribbling near the box on the right side, he sent a pass slicing across the box, and Armas, charging in from the left side, slammed the ball into the open net with his left foot.
Iranian goalkeeper Hadi Tabatebei, forced to guard the post with Jones dribbling in on him, could not recover in time to have a chance at Armas' blast.
Iran came very close to going up 2-0 early. One minute after feeding Mahdavikia a pass for his goal, Azizi controlled the rebound after U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel stopped a shot. With Friedel scrambling to get back, Azizi, on the left side eight yards from the goal, whirled around and fired a shot with his left foot. But the ball went into the side of the net.
Finishing their U.S. visit with the game against the Americans, the Iranians earlier lost to Mexico 2-1 in Oakland and beat Ecuador 2-1 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. All of the games drew large contingents of Iranian-Americans.