March 1998, Week 2
|Films From France, Ireland and Iran||Mar 13|
|Diplomatic Wrestlers Meet Clinton||Mar 13|
|Iran Plans World Cup Camp in France||Mar 12|
|Iran President Adviser Invites U.S. Women to Visit||Mar 11|
|Iran Appoints New Ambassador to Germany||Mar 10|
|Leading Iranian Politician Challenges Authority||Mar 9|
|Iran president to address Iranians abroad||Mar 8|
|U.S. Aides Still Divided Over Sanctions||Mar 8|
Films From France, Ireland and Iran
OLIVIER ASSAYAS' marvelous 1996 "Irma Vep" came through town recently without enough incident. A film that pays homage to classic French cinema, it also takes amusing potshots at pretentious filmmaking in the bu rgeoning independent industry. It's the French answer, in a way, to Tom DiCillo's "Living in Oblivion."
"Irma Vep," a French language film, screens March 22 as part of a retrospective on Assayas at the National Gallery of Art. The six-film series starts at 2 Saturday with the 1991 "Paris at Dawn" ("Paris s'eveille" ), his highly cinematic study of a love triangle, which costars Jean-Pierre Leaud. It's shown with "Cold W ater" ("L'eau froide"), a 1994 film about Assayas' adolescence, which was part of a television series. At 4 Sunday, it's "A New Life" ("Une nouvelle vie"), a 1993 drama about a 20-year-old woman's first-time meet ing with her father. The film is followed by the 1989 "Winter's Child" ("L'enfant de l'hiver") about a cou ple who separate just before the birth of their child. The "Irma Vep" screening on March 22 is at 4. The s eries concludes with "Hou Hsiao-hsien," a 1997 documentary on the Taiwanese filmmaker.
All shows at the East Building auditorium are free. Call 202/737-4215.
AS PART of its "Conversations With the Authors" series, the Arts Club of Washington is hosting an evening with filmmaker Jenifer McShane at 7 Wednesday. The subject will be her 1996 documentary, "A Leap of Faith. " The 1996 film, made with Tricia Regan and narrated by Liam Neeson, chronicles the formation of a religio usly integrated school in Northern Ireland. Clips will be shown, and Carol Whitney of the Arts Club will i nterview McShane.
The event, held at the historic home of President James Monroe, 2017 I St. NW, is free. For more informati on, call 202/331-7282, Ext. 25.
IRAN HAS produced one of the richest national film movements of late. The Freer Gallery of Art is showing seven works from Iran, starting at 7 Friday with Dariush Mehrjui's "Leila," the story of a young, upper-cl ass couple dealing with infertility. The other films are: Abolfazl Jalili's "Det Means Girl," March 20 at 7, March 22 at 2; Mohsen Makhmalbaf's "Gabbeh," March 27 at 7, March 29 at 2; Kianoush Ayyari's "Beyond Fi re," April 3 at 7; Jalili's documentary, "A True Story," April 5 at 2; Ayyari's "The Abadanis," April 17 a t 7; and Abbas Kiarostami's prize-winning "Taste of Cherry," April 26 at 2.
All shows are free. Call 202/357-2700 for more information.
Diplomatic Wrestlers Meet Clinton
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a salute to some offbeat diplomacy,
President Clinton met Thursday with American wrestlers who were
warmly received in Iran despite the estrangement between Washington
The wrestlers' visit last month marked the first time in 18 years the American flag was displayed with honor rather than hatred in Tehran.
White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Clinton's meeting with the wrestlers was intended to draw attention to ``a people-to-people exchange that is maybe off the beaten path of diplomacy. But it has something to say about the prospect and hope for more beneficial relations between peoples.''
However, McCurry said the United States would continue to address their ``serious and deep differences'' through a formal diplomatic dialogue.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has said he is open to cultural and sports exchanges but sees no need for diplomatic ties. McCurry said, ``We do see utility in the kind of people-to-people exchanges'' such as the wrestling team's visit.
In Tehran last month, American wrestler Zeke Jones was applauded by thousands of fans when he waved a tiny paper Iranian flag at an awards ceremony. And Iranians roared approval when Melvin Douglas went to receive his silver medal carrying a portrait of Iran's hard-line spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran Plans World Cup Camp in France
Associated Press Writer|
PARIS (AP) -- Iran starts World Cup preparations next week with a training camp in Brittany as coach Tomislav Ivic gets players ready for the tournament -- which includes a June 21 game against the United States.
``I know everybody in Iran thinks this team is able to win,'' said Ivic, hired Jan. 15 to replace Valdir Vierra.
Iran plays exhibition games against Guingamp next Tuesday and Nantes on March 20. Both play in France's first division.
``If I succeed in finding good reserve players, I can pull off surprises,'' Ivic said this week. ``One of the weakest points is the lack of experience at the highest level.''
The camp in France will allow him to work for the first time with German-based players Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri (Armenia Bielefeld), and Khadadad Azizi (FC Cologne).
Iran, which qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1978, will have a camp at home next month prepare for a tournament in Tehran from April 20-22 with Georgia, Hungary and Jamaica. The team leaves for Europe in mid-May and will play exhibition games at Internazionale of Milan on May 23 and against Croatia at Zagreb on June 3.
``Physically, the players are not at such a high level professionally as in the European leagues,'' he said. ``The organization in defense is not good enough and in front of goal they need to create more chances. In the short time I have I must work on those points.''
Iran President Adviser Invites U.S. Women to Visit
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A woman adviser to Iran's moderate
President Mohammad Khatami has called on American women to visit
the country to improve the understanding between the two
peoples, a newspaper said Wednesday.
The daily Akhbar quoted Zahra Shojaei, presidential adviser for women's affairs, as saying: ``Given the recent message by Mr. Khatami to the American people, I use this opportunity to invite American women and girls to visit the ancient country Iran and to continue the dialogue.''
Shojaei made the remarks Monday during a speech at Columbia University in New York, where she was attending a U.N. meeting, said the newspaper, quoting Iran's news agency IRNA.
Khatami, elected by a landslide last year, made a televised address to the American people in January calling for a ``crack in the wall of mistrust'' between Iran and the United States.
Khatami made no direct proposal for talks between governments but stirred speculations about a thaw between the two hostile countries by suggesting a dialogue between Iranian and American academics, writers, artists and journalists.
Iran Appoints New Ambassador to Germany
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Iran has appointed a new
ambassador to Germany, months after a row which led to the
withdrawal of European Union envoys from Tehran was resolved,
state-run Tehran radio said on Wednesday.
It said President Mohammad Khatami approved the appointment of Ahmad Azizi, who headed a commission of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, as ambassador to Bonn.
EU ambassadors returned to Tehran in November after a seven-month absence resulting from a German court ruling that Iranian leaders ordered the killings of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. Tehran denied involvement in the shootings.
Azizi replaces Hossein Moussavian who had been ambassador to Germany since 1990.
Leading Iranian Politician Challenges Authority
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Former Iranian Majlis (parliament) Speaker
Mehdi Karubi openly challenged the Constitutional Guardians Council
(CGC) over its right to approve the qualifications of candidates for
the country's elections, the Persian-language newspaper Salam reported
In his recent letter to CGC secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, Karubi said that the country's Elections Law did not authorized the CGC to approve or reject the qualifications of any candidate but only empowered the CGC to generally supervise elections in the country.
The CGC's right to approve the qualifications of candidates came under question after it disqualified several famous left-wing candidates for the forthcoming Majlis by-elections, including former minister of heavy industries Behzad Nabavi, a major supporter of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in the president elections last May.
Karubi, secretary of the Society of Combatant Clergymen in Tehran (SCC), said that according to Article 53 of the Elections Law approved by the Majlis in 1983, the Elections Executive Commission has the right to approve the qualifications of candidates while the CGC only has the right to make comment on the qualifications of those who was rejected.
He quoted contexts of the Elections Law to confirm his remarks, adding that it was the CGC that announced the right for itself to approve qualifications of candidates in 1991 in an explanation about the Constitution.
In recent weeks, the left-wing factions launched strong criticism to the CGC and a students' group the Unity Consolidation Office (UCO) staged a protest rally a week ago outside Tehran University, triggering a violent clash with supporters of a right-wing faction.
However, Janati claimed Friday that the elections law passed by the Majlis empowered the CGC to approve the qualifications of candidates, adding that any objection to CGC's right should be discussed in the Majlis.
He rejected the accusation that the CGC became an organ of the right-wing factions, saying that the CGC works were independent and neutral, free from influence from any factions.
So far, top Iranian leaders including President Khatami, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, kept silence over the issue. But many observers here believed that the issue would be solved only through an intervention by the top leaders.
Iran president to address Iranians abroad
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - Iran's President Mohammad
Khatami, trying to court millions of Iranians living abroad, has
told embassies to ease their return home and plans a special
address to them this month, a newspaper said on Sunday.
The English-language Tehran Times said Khatami would deliver a message on the new Iranian satellite television channel Jam-e Jam to mark the start of Now Ruz, the Iranian new year that begins on March 21.
The newspaper said Khatami, a moderate cleric who was elected last year, has proposed to embassies and missions helping to ease the return of Iranians. It did not spell out any specific measures he would suggest.
Iran witnessed a ``brain drain'' of technocrats and professionals after the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-Western Pahlavi monarchy.
Khatami has previously called on Iranian expatriates to return. The president is keen to attract back educated Iranians, the vast majority of whom live in the United States.
When Jam-e Jam was launched in December it was broadcasting to Europe, Central Asia, North Africa and Gulf Arab states. It was unclear if the speech would reach North American viewers.
Now Ruz, an ancient Zoroastrian holiday pre-dating the introduction of Islam to Iran some 1,300 years ago, is widely celebrated in the Islamic republic and among expatriates with family gatherings and traditional Persian foods.
U.S. Aides Still Divided Over Sanctions on Foreign Investors in Iran
By Thomas W. Lippman|
Washington Post Staff Writer
President Clinton's senior foreign policy advisers met late into the night on Tuesday grappling with what might have seemed a straightforward decision: whether to impose legally mandated sanctions on French, Russian and Malaysian oil companies that are developing a major offshore natural gas field in Iran.
But the meeting ended inconclusively, senior officials said, as did several earlier high-level discussions of the same subject. Nearly six months after the three companies triggered a State Department investigation of whether they should be penalized under U.S. law, the administration appears paralyzed by the myriad arguments for and against sanctions.
Proponents of sanctions argue that failure to act would open the gates to major flows of investment capital into the Iranian petroleum industry, the economic mainstay of a country that Washington has condemned as a sponsor of terror and as a strategic threat to the entire Middle East.
But opponents of sanctions -- led, according to administration officials and lobbyists on the issue, by Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat -- counter that acting against the oil companies would shut off potentially promising overtures toward better relations by Iran's president, antagonize important allies and risk a trade war with the European Union, which is adamantly opposed to any U.S. effort to interfere with the activities of European corporations.
According to some officials, the administration is basically content to postpone a decision because delay avoids potential negative consequences of a decision either way, while leaving the deterrent effect of U.S. sanctions hanging over other foreign companies.
"It certainly is a cross-cutting issue," one senior official said.
A 1996 law sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) requires the president to impose two or more of a package of sanctions on any foreign company that invests $20 million or more in one year to develop the oil industries of Iran or Libya. President Clinton had previously barred by executive order all commerce between U.S. companies and Iran.
Iran, the Middle East's leading oil producer after Saudi Arabia, has been seeking foreign capital to develop its offshore oil and gas potential. The Iranians scored their first major success last summer when Total S.A. of France, the giant Russian natural gas company Gazprom and the state-owned Petronas of Malaysia signed a contract to invest $2 billion in developing a gas field known as South Pars.
D'Amato fired off a letter to Clinton saying that "if the United States does not take swift, decisive action to apply these available sanctions, we will have undercut our long-standing policy against Iranian terrorism, a policy which you have advocated at the summit level on many occasions. Dozens of foreign companies are watching our reaction to the Total deal."
The State Department investigated the contract but never announced a finding of whether the deal is sanctionable, although many industry experts believe that the case is open and shut.
"Of course it's sanctionable," said Vahan Zanoyan, a senior analyst at the Washington-based Petroleum Finance Co. "The real problem is with the law itself -- the people who sponsored it should admit they made a mistake. The fact that the secretary of state is burning the midnight oil over it is part of the cost. And it has cost a huge blow of credibility to the administration."
Some sources indicated that the State Department has concluded that the contract falls within the sanctions law. The debate within the administration then would be not whether the deal is technically sanctionable but what to do about it and when. Under the law, the administration can issue a waiver. Or, if it decides to sanction the companies, it can delay penalties for 90 days to negotiate a settlement, and extend that process an additional 90 days if talks are promising.
According to government officials and lobbyists who track the issue, participants at last week's meeting urged a further delay before announcing a decision for at least two reasons.
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the former boss of Gazprom and an economic beneficiary of Russia's biggest company, is due in Washington next week for his semi-annual meeting with Vice President Gore. Gazprom's participation in the South Pars development, along with other Russian ventures in Iran, is among the issues the two men will discuss, officials said.
In addition, some officials reportedly believe that Malaysia may be reevaluating the commitment of Petronas because of fears that a new run on its currency in the Asian economic crisis may require the country to keep its dollars at home. A Petronas pullout might undo the entire deal, obviating the need for controversial decisions in Washington.
In a previous discussion of the issue, some officials argued against announcing sanctions because the United States needed the help of Russia and France in defusing the crisis with Iraq over United Nations weapons inspections.