Albright: World Bank Approval of Iran Loans 'Inappropriate'

Published May 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Thursday that World Bank approval of two multi-million-dollar loans to Iran was "inappropriate" because given the Islamic Republic's support for terrorism and the controversial ongoing trial of 13 Jews on espionage charges, reported AFP. 

Iran "is a country that has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism and also we consider the vote today inappropriate given the current political situation in Iran and the government show trial," Albright told reporters. 

US officials had said that loans to Iran should be suspended until there was greater transparency in the trial of 13 Jews and eight Muslims accused of spying for Israel, according to bbc.online. 

But Albright’s description of the closed espionage trial in the southern city of Shiraz, about which Washington has several times voiced concern, was the strongest public language yet used by a US official in discussing the matter. 

American law generally requires the government to vote against loans for countries like Iran, who are on the State Department's list of sponsors of state terrorism, according to BBC.  

But there have been signs in recent months that the administration is looking for ways to open up relations with Iran.  

 

BAN LIFTED  

 

Two months ago, it lifted trade bans on carpets, pistachios and caviar.  

However on this occasion, the State Department made clear that its direct concerns are over the trial now going on in the Iranian city of Shiraz, which is being conducted in secrecy.  

At least eight of the accused Jews are said to have confessed.  

The conduct of the trial has been criticized by human rights groups and Western diplomats, who say it does not reach proper international standards.  

Political pressure  

The decision to approve the loans to Iran, which are for a sewerage project and for primary health care, had twice been postponed under American pressure.  

During the voting on Thursday, the United States was backed by Canada and France.  

Reporting the approval of the loans, the World Bank stressed that its charter says that only economic considerations should be taken into account in lending decisions.  

There have been fears among senior officials in both the bank and the International Monetary Fund that the United States in particular has been trying increasingly to invoke political criteria in decision-making – (Several Sources)  

 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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