Iran News ...


1/31/04

Iran rules out visit of US Congressmen, Senators to Tehran

Iran on Saturday brushed aside the prospect of visits by US congressmen and senators to Tehran a day after it was announced that a group of American congressional aides was to travel to the Islamic Republic in February, IRNA reported from Tehran.


Neighbors!

"No planning has been made for the visit of American congressmen and senators to Iran and such trips are not on agenda," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said.

The announcement came in the wake of a meeting held between Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and a group of American lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday.

Asefi said, "This is not the first time that Iran's permanent representative in the United Nations goes to Washington and such sessions to brief non-administrative American individuals."

"Before this, Iranian representatives had travelled to Washington for similar purposes," he added.

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.

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

Iran said last Saturday that Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and senior US Senator Joseph Biden had met on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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, 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.

Bush has 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 of the Bam quake.

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".

Meanwhile, President Mohammad Khatami strongly pledged that any fundamental change in US policies toward Iran will change the existing atmosphere of hostility between the two arch-foes.

"If we observe a fundamental change in American policies, a new situation will prevail," he said during Austrian President Thomas Klestil's visit to Tehran last Saturday.

"We have no enmity toward any one, any where (they might be). But we also expect that others do not make enmity toward us," Khatami added.

... Payvand News - 1/31/04 ... --



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