Shahnameh, Epic of the Persian Kings by Ferdowsi the Grreat Persian (Iranian) Poet of 9th Centuary from Toos Khorasan near present Mashhad in Northeast Iran

July 1998, Week 3

FarsiNet FarsiNews

Iran to Wrestle at Goodwill Games July 20
Congress Delays Iran Sanctions Vote July 19
Iran to speed up issue of business visas July 17
Iranian government stands firm behind reform plans July 16
EU delegation expected in Iran for talks July 15

 

Iran to Wrestle at Goodwill Games
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran, which last month beat the United States in soccer's World Cup, will send a wrestling team to the Goodwill Games in New York.

The country's Islamic Republic News Agency said Sunday that Iranian wrestlers also will participate in an international youth freestyle competition in Nevada starting Aug. 6.

The Goodwill Games opened Sunday and it had been reported earlier that Iran would boycott the event.

The Iranian Wrestling Federation said not participating would harm the country's standing in the wrestling world, the d aily Iran News reported Sunday.

These are the latest in a series of sports exchanges that have followed the election of Mohammad Khatami, a moderate, a s Iran's president.

Khatami, who took office in August, has called for greater cultural exchanges between Iran and the United States as a w ay of improving relations.

In February, a team of American wrestlers came to Tehran for a tournament. In April, Iranians wrestled in a tournament in Oklahoma.

That team, however, faced problems on arrival in the United States, where the players were photographed and fingerprint ed by immigration authorities on arrival at Chicago.

The State Department said federal law requires such procedures for visitors from countries that are not on friendly ter ms with the United States.

Relations between the two countries were broken in 1979 after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took Americans hostage.

Congress Delays Iran Sanctions Vote
By Tom Raum
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congressional Republicans have stopped trying to override President Clinton's veto of a bill that wo uld have imposed sanctions on companies that aid Iran's weapons programs. But House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he will reschedule such an attempt if the administration fails to follow through with penalties on nine Russian enterprises.

Republican leaders on Friday indefinitely postponed the override vote, even though supporters of the rejected measure h ad far more than the two-thirds majorities needed in each chamber for an override. The sanctions legislation had passed the House 392-22 in May and the Senate 90-4 in June.

Gingrich, R-Ga., suggested the legislation was unnecessary after the administration earlier this week said it would use existing laws to impose the sanctions on the Russian companies.

The administration action, and Friday's suspension of the override vote, followed a meeting earlier this week involving Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and White House national security adviser Sandy Berger.

``We said flatly we were going to override the veto of the Iran sanctions bill this week. And I was delighted when, by Wednesday, suddenly, magically, overnight, they got things done we've been asking for for over a year,'' Gingrich said.

In announcing the sanctions, the White House said the nine enterprises were found to be aiding weapons programs in Iran , Libya and North Korea. At the same time, the Russian government announced its own investigation into the nine enterpr ises for export-law violations.

The U.S. actions include trade restrictions and cutoff of American assistance.

GOP aides said that Lott originally wanted to go ahead with a vote but that Gingrich believed that withholding an overr ide vote would give the United States additional leverage over Moscow.

In any event, ``The bill's been pulled,'' said John Czwartacki, a Lott spokesman.

Both the House and the Senate must vote by two-thirds majorities to override a veto.

Although the legislation would impose sanctions on any nations exporting missile technology to Iran, it was aimed mainl y at Russia.

Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., chairman of the House International Affairs Committee and the sponsor of the vetoed legis lation, complained that the administration appeared to have announced the sanctions solely to head off a veto vote.

``It is shameful that the administration has not taken meaningful action until now against the threat to international peace and security posed by the proliferation of Russian missile technology to Iran,'' Gilman said.

He said he still intends to urge House leaders ``to schedule an override vote at an early date.''

Iran to speed up issue of business visas
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will soon issue 72-hour visas at Tehran's Mehrabad airport to foreign businessmen arriving at the invitation of local companies, press reports said on Sunday.

The move is designed to encourage foreign trade, now frequently hindered by time-consuming and cumbersome visa procedures.

Under existing regulations, visas to the Islamic republic must be picked up at Iran's foreign embassies and consulates.

The daily Tehran Times, citing a report by the official IRNA news agency, said the cabinet was expected to issue new regulations allowing the airport visas in the very near future. Other newspapers carried similar reports.

The newspaper quoted Housing and Urban Development Minister Ali Abdolalizadeh as saying Tehran hoped other countries, particularly in Western Europe and the Balkans, would reciprocate to ease travel rules for Iranian businessmen.

Iranian government stands firm behind reform plans
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's choice for interior minister has vowed to carry on the democratic reforms that cost his predecessor his job at the hands of the conservatives.

The daily Salam newspaper, close to the Khatami government, on Thursday published a four-point program from minister-designate Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari spelling out his goals and policies if he is confirmed in his post next week by the Majlis, or parliament.

Top of the list is "political development," the potent slogan of democratic pluralism that helped the moderate Khatami overwhelm his mainstream conservative rival in general elections in May, 1997.

"The promotion of dialogue between different groups and political tendencies within the framework of the law is a necessity," the text of the program said.

Mousavi-Lari, a 44-year-old cleric and now Khatami's vice- president for legal and parliamentary affairs, also pledged to expand social rights, including those for women, and to promote pluralism within the existing Islamic system.

"The topics of these plans fit within the program of the esteemed president (Khatami) and seek to continue the services of the government during the past year," the program said.

The president's bid to establish what he calls the rule of law, or "civil society," has suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks, including the impeachment of the progressive interior minister on June 21 by the conservative-led Majlis.

Deputies charged former Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri with aggravating social and political tensions by authorizing opposition rallies, one of which ended in clashes with hardliners.

They were also incensed that he used his powers to put Khatami loyalists in key provincial posts and unabashedly backed the mayor of Tehran, now on trial for corruption, as the innocent victim of a hardline witch hunt.

The Majlis forced out Nouri after an impeachment debate, setting the stage for next week's parliamentary showdown. In doing so, it also outraged pro-Khatami forces, including Iran's biggest student movement.

However, Mousavi-Lari's manifesto made it clear that neither he nor the president were prepared to back down. Nor was there any sign that Khatami had yielded to the conservatives and consulted Majlis leaders before naming his new candidate.

The new program also promised to implement a discarded article of the constitution requiring popular election of city and town councils, and to increase participation by women in social activities -- key planks in Khatami's campaign platform.

Prospects for Mousavi-Lari's confirmation were uncertain, with the innate conservativism of the majority of MPs balanced by respect for Khatami's 70 percent electoral mandate.

"Majlis experts believe that President Khatami might face an uphill task for getting approval of Mousavi-Lari because of existing tension between the two politically important factions," said the Tehran Times, adding the president would have been better served by consulting lawmakers in advance.

"Still there is time, a joint discussion between the president and leading Majlis deputies on the proposed interior minister can bring the two sides closer," it said.

terior minister can bring the two sides closer," it said.

EU delegation expected in Iran for talks
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- A European Union delegation is due to visit Tehran on Friday for the first talks since the EU lifted a ban on high-level contacts with Iran in January, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials from Britain, Austria and Germany would make up the delegation, Iranian Foreign Ministry Director-General Ali Ahani told the official news agency IRNA.

The visit by the representatives of the European Union "Troika" -- past, present, and future EU presidents -- would last three days, Ahani added.

Ties between Iran and Europe have been improving since hitting a low point last year after a German court concluded that Iranian leaders had ordered the 1992 killings of Kurdish dissidents in Germany. Tehran denied the charge.

After the verdict, Europe suspended its policy of "critical dialogue" with the Islamic republic and EU members and Iran withdrew their top envoys.

The envoys have since returned and in January the EU lifted a ban on high-level contacts with Iran in light of developments since the election in May 1997 of moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and the interest shown by the new government in better relations.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi visited Iran earlier this month. The trip was the first by a head of government of an EU member state to Iran since former Greek prime minister Constantine Mistotakis visited Tehran in 1992.

 

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