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October 99, Week 3
|Iran Minister Wants More Schools, Not Mosques||October 19|
|Cohen: Iran Still a Threat||October 18|
|Iran Rejects Call for Dialogue with United States||October 17|
|Former Tehran Mayor Back in Jail after Leave||October 16|
|Face-To-Face Dialogue Proposed Between U.S. and Iran||October 15|
Iran Minister Wants More Schools, Not Mosques
TEHRAN(Reuters) - Iran's liberal culture minister said on Monday it would be more useful to build schools and technical institutes in the Islamic country instead of yet more mosques, state television reported. |
"In some city areas several mosques have been built across from each other. If, instead of one of these mosques, a technical college or industrial institute were built...many jobless youths would find employment," the televison quoted Ataollah Mohajerani as saying.
Mohajerani, known for candid remarks which have provoked attacks by Islamic hardliners, was speaking at a seminar on Moslem endowments that build many mosques and schools. A senior education official said on Sunday that Iran had a shortage of 250,000 classrooms for its school children, who make up almost a third of its population of more than 60 million.
Cohen: Iran Still a Threat
The Associated Press|
MANAMA, Bahrain-Despite President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to modernize Iran, the country continues to sponsor terrorism and remains a threat to its neighbors, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said here Monday.
Cohen, who arrived in this Persian Gulf island-state Monday, told reporters that the Iranian policies are hindering the establishment of normal relations with the United States.
"We have been encouraged ... by President Khatami's attempts to modernize Iran to appeal to a younger group of people who want to see changes in Iran," Cohen said. "We would like to establish a better relationship with Iran."
"We have made several overtures to indicate we would like to see that relationships become normal, but only if they meet three conditions," Cohen said.
The conditions are that Iran should stop terrorist activities, stop undermining the Mideast peace process and stop trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Iran rejects the U.S. accusations.
"We have not seen any evidence of improvement in those three areas," said Cohen, who is on a 9-day tour of eight countries in the region including Egypt and Israel. He is expected to fly to Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.
On Thursday, a U.S. State Department official said that the United States wants to hold talks with Iran "on the basis of equality and mutual respect."
But Iran rejected the proposal Saturday, saying America's "hostile measures" cannot be corrected or compensated with words.
Iran and the United States severed diplomatic relations when the 1979 Islamic revolution overthrew the pro-U.S. shah of Iran and installed the clerical government still in power.
Hopes of a rapprochement grew after Khatami, a moderate cleric, came to power in August 1997 and spoke of warmer relations with Americans.
But the optimism faded as Khatami became embroiled in a power struggle with hard-line clerics, who reject any contact with the United States.
Iran Rejects Call for Dialogue with United States
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Iran on Saturday rejected Washington's latest request for dialogue, saying friendly words were not enough to make up for past insults.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk on Thursday renewed an offer for Iran and the United States to hold talks "on the basis of equality and mutual respect." |
The aim, Indyk said, was to encourage Iran to support Mideast peacemaking and to stop supporting terrorism by halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. But Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamidreza Asefi, said America's "hostile measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be corrected or compensated for with words," according to Iranian television.
"Indyk speaks of equality and mutual respect, but at the same time repeats baseless accusations expressed by Washington about Iran's nuclear activities and other issues," Asefi was quoted as saying.
A group of 28 U.S. senators urged U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Friday to take a tough line toward Iran, saying it showed no change in its stance toward the rest of the world two years after President Mohammad Khatami's election.
In a letter to Albright, the senators criticized the State Department's inclusion of Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian opposition group, on a list of terrorist groups as an effort to appease "the criminal mullahs" who rule Iran.
Asefi struck back Saturday, saying: "It would be better for American officials to refrain from simple-minded statements about the Islamic Republic of Iran, and instead, look at the existing realities in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have been achieved by a popular and independent revolution."
Former Tehran Mayor Back in Jail after Leave
TEHRAN,(Reuters) - Tehran's former mayor, convicted last year on graft charges, has returned to jail after a leave of 10 days, newspapers said on Saturday. |
Gholamhossein Karbaschi, who has served six months of his two-year sentence, met politicians and a number of ministers before returning on Friday to northern Tehran's Evin prison, where several prominent detainees are held, the newspaper Arya said.
Karbaschi has appealed for a review of his case and is awaiting a response from the judiciary. The former mayor, who helped reformist Mohammad Khatami win the presidency, was jailed in May after being convicted on embezzlement charges. But many in Iran saw the case as a political move by conservatives to push a leading reformist out of office. Reformists say the proceedings have only served to boost Karbaschi's political standing and his personal popularity.
Face-To-Face Dialogue Proposed Between U.S. and Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration is renewing an offer to hold face-to-face talks with Iran, but a group of 28 senators urged Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to take a tough line. |
Two years after the election of President Mohammad Khatami, there is no real evidence of change within Iran or in its stance toward the rest of the world, the senators wrote. "Now is not the time to associate ourselves with a regime that continues to subject its people to repressive and brutal practices." The group, headed by Sens. Robert Toricelli, D-N.J., and Christopher Bond, R-Mo., urged the State Department to "look afresh towards the possibilities that exist within Iran's democratic opposition, including the People's Mojahedin."
The Washington office of Mujahedeen Khalq, which means people's "Mojahedin," has criticized the State Department's inclusion of it on a list of terrorist groups as an effort to appease "the criminal mullahs" who rule Iran. In renewing an offer to hold talks with Iran without conditions, Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk said the United States would encourage Iran to support Mideast peacemaking, stop supporting terrorism and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Similar overtures have been made by President Clinton and by Albright. "Unfortunately," Indyk told the Asia Society Thursday, "the Iranian government's response to this overture has been, for the most part, hidebound and unimaginative."
And yet, the State Department official said, the administration has streamlined U.S. visa policies and supported academic and athletic exchanges with Iran while Iran has opened its doors to American wrestlers, scholars, graduate students and museum officers.
Indyk also welcomed a statement this week by a high Iranian official that the safety of Americans and other tourists in Iran must be safeguarded. In a gesture, Indyk said the Mujahedeen Khalq, a group based in Iraq that claimed responsibility for the assassination of Iran's deputy chief of staff and the killing of two high-ranking members of the Iranian government, was redesignated last week by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.
The National Council of Resistance, an alias of the group, was listed for the first time, he said. This means contributions to the group are illegal. "Iran is also a victim of terrorism," Indyk said. "We condemn these acts as we condemn all acts of terrorism."
But, he said, Iran continues to support groups that use terrorism, even though senior Iranian officials have denounced attacks on innocent people, and Iran continues efforts to develop ballistic missiles, causing the United States to oppose investment in Iran's petroleum sector.