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November 99, Week 4
|U.S. Awaits Iranian Elections for Signs of Change||November 25|
|U.S. Denies Asking to Post Officials in Tehran||November 25|
|U.S. Seeks Consular Visits to Iran||November 24|
|Iran Reviews Student Riot Sentences||November 23|
|Iran's Khamenei Rejects U.S. Envoys||November 21|
U.S. Awaits Iranian Elections for Signs of Change
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is looking forward to next February's parliamentary elections in Iran for signs of change in Iranian policy, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Wednesday. |
In one of the first comments on the vote by a U.S. leader, she told a news conference: "We're going to have elections in February in Iran, which we think will be very important and will, I think, give a signal as to the direction in which Iran wants to move." Albright brought up the elections in the context of U.S. attempts to persuade the Iranian government to allow visits by U.S. consular officials, with the implication that the Iranians might be more flexible after the elections.
The United States has been seeking better relations with Iran for years but has constantly been rebuffed. Its overtures sometimes have had the counterproductive effect of strengthening the position of hard-liners opposed to reconciliation. In the absence of direct relations, the United States has tried to encourage contacts between Iranians and Americans. On Tuesday it said Iran had refused to allow consular visits to Tehran to speed up the process of giving out U.S. visas.
Albright said: "We are trying to figure out a way to build on the possibilities of a people-to-people program. There have been some Iranians that have come to the United States... And we wanted to be able to improve the ability of Americans to go to Iran, which is one reason that we had been talking about having some American consular officers visit there."
The United States is offering an unconditional dialogue in which both sides could bring up its grievances. It wants to talk about weapons programs, support for groups like Hizbollah in Lebanon and Iranian opposition to Middle East peace talks.
But Iran says the United States should unfreeze Iranian assets and lift sanctions before the dialogue begins. The United States had hoped that the election of President Mohammad Khatami in May 1997 would bring better relations. It believes that Iranian hard-liners have restricted Khatami's freedom of maneuver.
U.S. Denies Asking to Post Officials in Tehran
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Serbia, (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday denied that it had proposed basing American officials in Tehran at an office looking after U.S. interests.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on state radio on Monday that the Americans "say some people have to come to Tehran and establish an office under the guise of protecting interests...Our officials on their part have resisted and not allowed it." |
Asked whether the United States had made such a proposal, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told reporters on Tuesday: "No, we are represented there by the Swiss." Berger was speaking at the giant Camp Bondsteel military base near the southeastern Kosovo town of Urosevac, where President Bill Clinton was to eat a pre-Thanksgiving meal with U.S. troops.
Khamenei told students at a Tehran university that the Americans had been pressing for representation "for some time." "In reality they want to set up an intelligence and political site in the centre of Tehran," Khamenei added, without saying when the U.S. proposal was made. U.S. media and an Iranian official said last year that Washington had proposed basing a U.S. official at Switzerland's embassy in Tehran.
The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran after Islamic students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran following the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the pro-Western shah. They held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year. Bilateral ties have thawed somewhat since reformist President Mohammad Khatami took office in 1997.
But Khamenei, who outranks Khatami, has ruled out renewed relations, despite calls by some moderates for a review of Tehran's policy towards its arch-foe.
U.S. Seeks Consular Visits to Iran
By George Gedda|
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -Iran has rejected a U.S. request to allow American consular officials to visit Iran periodically to promote people-to-people exchanges, the State Department said Tuesday.
Spokesman James P. Rubin said it is "high time" for Iran to allow such visits, given that Iranian officials are routinely permitted to come to the United States to visit private American citizens.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, disclosed in a speech made public Tuesday the U.S. interest in sending officials to Iran but said the underlying motive was to "to open an office for intelligence and political activities and forge ties with their mercenaries."
He said Iran is resisting American pressure for the right to "base" U.S. officials in Iran.
Rubin said the administration merely wanted to send consular officials on temporary assignments to Tehran, and he suggested this is not a new U.S. objective.
"We have long wanted U.S. consular officials to visit Iran to look into facilitating the issuance of visas for Iranians to travel to the United States and the assistance of American citizens wishing to travel to Iran," Rubin said.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken after Islamic militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979 and held American diplomats hostage for 444 days. The Swiss Embassy in Tehran has been handling U.S. interests there, and Rubin said the United States is not seeking a change in that situation.
If Iran acquiesced to the U.S. request for visits by consular officials, it would be widely seen as a softening of Iran's attitude toward the United States and a possible prelude to more substantive contacts.
The administration has been seeking an official dialogue with Iran but Iranian authorities say the relationship should not go beyond unofficial exchanges. To the extent that there is support in Iran for a renewal of official contacts, it has been rejected by Khamenei and his staunchly anti-American allies.
Iran Reviews Student Riot Sentences
The Associated Press|
TEHRAN, Iran -A revolutionary court has acquitted one person and upheld death sentences for three others involved in July rioting that marked the worst unrest since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
"The court acquitted one person because he was found to be insane and upheld the death sentences for three people," Gholamhossein Rahbarpour, head of Iran's Revolutionary Courts, was quoted as saying by the Asr-e-Azadegan daily.
He did not give their names and the report did not indicate when the court made its decision.
Rahbarpour said in September that four people, none of them students, had been sentenced to death for their roles in the riots.
Asked if the three would be executed, Rahbarpour, who was speaking in a question-and-answer session at Tehran's Allameh Tabatabie University, suggested that they could be pardoned.
"It depends whether they request a pardon. If they do, their situation could change," the newspaper reported him as saying.
Authorities cracked down on a week of student riots in July that started in Tehran and spread to several major cities. The unrest followed the closure of a reformist newspaper and a raid on a student dormitory by police and hard-line vigilantes.
Iran's Khamenei Rejects U.S. Envoys
The Associated Press|
TEHRAN, Iran -Iran has turned down a U.S. request to base diplomats in Tehran, the nation's supreme leader said in comments aired today.
"Iranian officials are resisting pressure from the United States, which says it wants to base Americans at an interest section in Tehran," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on state-run radio.
"In fact, what they (Americans) want is to open an office for intelligence and political activities and forge ties with their mercenaries in Iran," Khamenei said in the speech Monday to university students in Tehran.
However, White House National Security Adviser Sandy Berger denied the United States was seeking a U.S. diplomatic presence in Tehran. "We are represented in Tehran by the Swiss," said Berger, who is traveling with President Clinton.
Washington severed diplomatic ties with Iran after militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Relations between the United States and Iran have thawed since the election of the reformist President Mohammad Khatami in 1997.
However, U.S.-Iranian relations are an issue in the struggle between hard-liners and reformists inside the Islamic government.
The reformists, who are allied with Khatami, believe in opening a dialogue with the United States. Khamenei, who leads the hard-liners and out ranks Khatami, has rejected both dialogue or ties.