BYLINE=LETA HONG FINCHER
INTRO: The United States is about to announce a major
change in its policy towards Iran. As V-O-A's Leta
Hong Fincher reports, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright will spell out the changes on Friday in an
attempt to encourage reformists in Iran.
TEXT: The speech by Secretary Albright will be the
first major U-S response to the victory of reformists
in Iran's elections last month. State Department
spokesman James Rubin said the success of reform
candidates led by President Mohammad Khatami is a
tribute to a thriving democracy in Iran.
/// RUBIN ACT ///
There has clearly been a major stride forward in
terms of free press, leading to a free election,
leading to an overwhelming victory for reformers
in this most recent parliamentary election. As
a result, Secretary Albright believes it's
appropriate for the United States to respond to
that election through a major policy address.
/// END ACT ///
Mr. Rubin did not give details of Friday's policy
speech. But other U-S officials have suggested that
Washington will loosen its sanctions on the import of
three key non-oil products: Iranian rugs, caviar and
pistachio nuts. The United States has imposed a ban
on these imports for the past 13 years.
On Monday, President Clinton extended a U-S ban on
investment in Iran's oil and gas industry, saying that
Iran still supports international terrorism and is
trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. But
despite these sanctions, the United States has been
trying to open a dialogue with Iran for years. Iran
has repeatedly turned down offers of direct talks.
But now that the reformist victory in Iran has shifted
power away from the hard-liners, U-S officials are
hoping to make progress toward reconciliation.
/// Opt /// Secretary Albright will deliver her
speech to the American-Iranian Council, a private
group that seeks better relations with Iran. /// End
16-Mar-2000 16:00 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 2100 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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