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IRAN and the US
Talk of renewed Iran-US relations was premature. as Khamenei dismissed diplomatic 'surrender' to US (Reuters. 14/5/03) "Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei flatly rejected restoring relations with arch-foe the US, arguing it would be tantamount to "surrender". The comments by Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, should stifle debate in Iran over a possible easing in Tehran-Washington ties that have been frozen for over two decades. The debate was fuelled by news that Iranian and US officials had held talks recently in Geneva to discuss issues related to Iran's neighbors Afghanistan and Iraq. "Some prescribe the surrender of the Iranian nation to America in the face of the enemy's adventurism. But succumbing to the enemy is by no means effective," Khamenei said in a speech to students in Tehran on Monday, US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that the recent Geneva talks were on practical issues and did not presage a re-opening of diplomatic ties. Washington's swift victory in Iraq prompted many officials across Iran's divided political spectrum to suggest the time was right for a policy of engagement with the US.
Influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani last month said the issue could be put to a referendum. Opinion polls show most Iranians favor better ties with the US. Analysts say that anti-US sentiment remains a central pillar of Iran's Islamic state, and one that Khamenei is loath to forego. Iran and the US severed relations shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution when radical students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 hostages for 444 days. Washington has bracketed Iran in its "axis of evil" and accuses it of sponsoring terrorism and developing nuclear arms. "Those who say do not give a pretext to America and for example want Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear knowledge, are not aware that America is seeking to prepare the ground and weaken the system from the inside," Khamenei said. Khamenei said Iran's nuclear energy program is for "peaceful purposes" and not for developing nuclear weapons".
Ronald Hilton - 5/15/03