Iran's bid to buff up its image on the international stage has been given a major boost by the landslide re-election of President Mohammad Khatami, the Iranian foreign ministry said Monday, June 11.
But foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi said the Islamic republic was still waiting for archenemy the United States to take the first concrete steps before any resumption in ties could be considered.
The overwhelming win of Khatami "will give a second wind to our diplomacy, and will permit the government to pursue its policy of detente with determination and force," Assefi told reporters. "It will accelerate detente, mutual trust and cooperation."
But he said the key stumbling block to ties with the US was Washington's refusal to back down and lift unilateral sanctions on the Islamic republic. "The Americans must give some proof of their goodwill, by taking concrete steps, in making concrete gestures," Assefi said. "The condition of Iran is the lifting of all the sanctions. Unless this condition is not met, we cannot imagine any improvement in relations."
He said that if the sanctions were extended, "it shows that the Zionist lobbies in the United States are still very active in working against the interests of Iran. These sanctions are even against the interests of American firms," he said.
The two nations broke ties after the 1979 hostage-taking at the US embassy here, and attempts at rapprochement have been dogged by fierce resentment over US support for Israel as well as its backing for Iran's former imperial regime ousted in 1979.
Iran has since repeatedly said it would welcome the return of US companies, particularly in its lucrative oil sector, and that Washington's attitude was only serving to hurt US firms.
But 1996 US legislation calls for punitive measures against US firms that make substantial investments in the petrochemical industries of Iran and Libya, two nations the United States accuses of backing international terrorism. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)