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Senior US senator Joseph Biden meets Iranian FM Kamal Kharrazi in Davos

Senior US Senator Joseph Biden criticized the American government's policies on Iran during a meeting with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, IRNA reported.

According to the ministry's press bureau, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from Delaware, "stressed the importance of Iran and the role which it can play in the sensitive and volatile region" in the Middle East.

"Joseph Biden told the Iranian foreign minister that he hoped the existing problems between the Islamic Republic of Iran and America would be removed someday," it added.

Kharrazi had a 90-minute meeting with Biden in a rare high-level contact between Tehran and Washington, which have held no official relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in full view of reporters in a lounge at the World Economic Forum.

"Kharrazi, in turn, said 'the Iranian nation has suffered gravely from the antagonistic steps of the American government and so long as these wrong policies continue, there will be no ground for dialogue and improving the two countries' relations'," the ministry said.

"The Iranian foreign minister stressed that ... American statesmen are required first to change their existing approach and prove their good will in order to pave the way for dialogue and diplomatic relations according to mutual respect," it added.

The Bush administration, which has tagged Iran part of an 'axis of evil', offered humanitarian aid to the victims of the December 26 Bam quake and dispatched an 80-member relief team and supplies like tents and blankets after receiving Iran's green light.

Bush also ordered a unilateral American sanctions against Iran to be temporarily waived in order to send any form of aid, including cash mostly by the large Iranian diaspora in the United States, to the victims.

US' dramatic U-turn led to the speculation that Tehran and Washington might choose this time to bring their frozen ties out of fridge and start a dialogue.

Iran, however, rejected an American proposal to send a delegation headed by top Senator Elizabeth Dole to Tehran to deliver American relief, saying "the time is not right yet for such a visit".

The United States had offered to send a humanitarian mission led by Senator Elizabeth Dole, including a family member of President George W. Bush, to the quake-stricken city of Bam in southeast Iran.

Washington cut ties with Tehran in 1980 in the wake of a hostage crisis after Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and arrested its staff.

Since then, the United States has taken an antagonistic stance against Iran, assisting the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein during the imposed Iraqi war between 1980 and 1988.

... Payvand News - 1/24/04 ... --

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