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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Time not ripe yet for US delegation visit, says Iran

IRNA

Tehran, Jan 4, IRNA -- Iran said Sunday the time was no ripe to 
receive an official US delegation headed by top Senator Elizabeth 
Dole to Tehran to deliver American relief. 
"The time is not right yet for such a visit, thus it is not on 
our agenda," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a 
weekly news briefing. 
The United States had offered Friday 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. 
Asefi said, "If the predominant attitude in the American ruling 
circle is to remove the wall of mistrust and practically move on the 
track to change the past approach and performance, a new atmosphere 
will be created." 
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 Bam tremor 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. 
Asefi said, "This is basically a positive step, since Iranian 
residents in America can participate in helping their compatriots." 
He said, "If this grace period is extended and the ban on goods 
are permanently lifted, a new climate will emerge." 
The foreign ministry spokesman reiterated that "humanitarian aid 
must not be confused with political issues". 
"America must explain why it chose such a delegation. Relief aid 
is a common task, but a delegation limited in scope such as this 
cannot help change relations in the disaster-hit Bam," Asefi said. 
US` dramatic U-turned led to the speculation whether Tehran and 
Washington would choose this time to bring their frozen ties out of 
fridge and start a dialogue. 
Asefi, however, poured cold water on this, stating that the 
United States had taken up a wrong approach for dialogue. 
"American approach for dialogue is wrong; it seeks dialogue 
while asking Iran to do this or that. This is not dialogue. 
"America must remember that Iran is an independent country and 
will not go under anything imposed. Americans have shown that they do 
not believe in the codes of dialogue," he added. 
According to Asefi, "any sign of a change in Americans` behavior 
will come when they commit themselves to the codes of dialogue as 
well as mutual respect and refrain from dictating their views and 
considering themselves superior". 
"But in recent days we have heard different voices, thus it must 
be clarified which one is the official stance. Such contradictory 
statements are not helpful at all," he added. 
The first explicit overtures to Tehran for a possible resumption 
of dialogue were made by Secretary of State Colin Powell in a 
Washington Post interview. 
That was followed by contradictory statements of Bush, who had 
even gone out of his way to thank the Islamic Republic for accepting 
the US relief aid. 
"The Iranian government must listen to the voices of those who 
long for freedom, must turn over al Qaeda (members) that are in their 
custody and must abandon their nuclear weapons program," then Bush 
said. 
BH/210 
End 



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