TITLE=IRAN REACT / U-S SANCTIONS (L ONLY)
INTRO: Iran's Foreign Ministry has welcomed
Washington's decision (on Friday) to lift
economic sanctions on key non-oil goods. The
ministry said Tehran would respond by importing
U-S grain and medicine. VOA's Dale Gavlak
reports from Cairo.
TEXT: Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza
Asefi called the U-S decision positive. He spoke
to reporters within hours of Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright's announcement that Americans
would now be allowed to import Iranian non-oil
goods such as carpets, dried fruits, nuts and
caviar. In exchange, Mr. Asefi said, Tehran
would permit the United States to export grain
and medicine to Iran. The country is currently
the world's largest wheat importer after a series
of droughts cut domestic production.
Mr. Asefi pointed out that although Mrs. Albright
repeated past U-S accusations about Iran's
involvement in terrorism, she also admitted
America's past mistakes. He added that her
speech presented a new and different American
attitude toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mr. Asefi said Tehran was studying her remarks
and would provide a more thorough response at a
Ordinary Iranians are hailing the U-S move as a
means of restoring relations more quickly and
helping their country's ailing economy. A
political analyst for several reformist
newspapers, Saeed Laylaz, told the Associated
Press that President Mohammad Khatami's reform
program is now bearing fruit. He said the
warming of ties between Tehran and Washington is
irreversible and would continue to move ahead.
Since coming to power nearly three years ago,
President Khatami has encouraged increased
people-to-people contact with the United States,
but has stopped short of calling for talks.
Washington cut its ties with Iran in 1979,after
radical students seized the American Embassy in
Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage.
17-Mar-2000 17:27 PM EDT (17-Mar-2000 2227 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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