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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran rules out visit of US congressmen, senators to Tehran

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, Jan 31, IRNA -- 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. 
"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. 
BH/210 
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