Hopeful signs that Iran and the U.S. may reestablish ties emanated from a recent press conference held by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.
"There is no reason we should not normalize relations with the Americans, provided they pave the way for this," he said, citing certain U.S. policies that prohibit trade and business relations with his country as the main reason for the current estrangement. From the Oval office in Washington, President Clinton responded to an email in an interactive web-chat on CNN, which called for a "healthy" and respectful relationship between the two countries. "That's what I want," Clinton responded, "The U.S. should always remain open to constructive dialogue with people of goodwill."
Nevertheless, the Iranians are waiting for the Americans to back their words with actions. Addressing Clinton's comments Kharrazi said, "We have taken this as a positive development...naturally, [Clinton] has to take practical steps." He added that Iran was ready to resume economic ties, but that the U.S. must do more to overcome the prevailing atmosphere of fear that characterizes the current relationship. "We believe the U.S. should, first, prove that it is honestly determined to develop its relations with Iran and this should be achieved through a change in its hostile policy toward Iran which still continues."
Iran-U.S. relations has been one of the debated themes during the campaign for parliamentary elections in Iran. Ahmad Bourqani, a leading reform Candidate of Iran's Islamic Participation Front, advocated negotiations and an end to the two-decade long estrangement which began during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Bourqani told a local newspaper, "The two countries should sit and make decisions on the basis of their national interests and this will happen."
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)