U.S. overtures to Iran during relief effort are rejected

Monday, January 5, 2004

Iran has rebuffed another rapproachment effort by the United States.

U.S. officials said Iran rejected a Bush administration offer to send a high-level delegation to Teheran as part of relief efforts for survivors of the earthquake last month in Bam. The administration sought to send a delegation that included Sen. Elizabeth Dole and a member of the family of President George Bush.

But Iran, amid criticism from clerics aligned with the Teheran regime, rejected the U.S. offer. Officials said the Iranian regime was dismayed by the conditions for reconciliation spelled out by Bush last week and also feared that a U.S. rapproachment effort would divide the Islamic republic.

"We have heard back today from the Iranians that, given the current situation in Bam and all that is going on there now, it would be preferable to hold such a visit in abeyance," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said on Friday. "Therefore, we are not pursuing it further at the moment."

Officials said Bush was advised to suggest the visit of a high-level delegation in an attempt to use the Bam earthquake to initiate a U.S. rapproachment with Iran. Washington has sent a relief delegation of more than 1,100 people and waived sanctions on Iran for three months to ensure relief efforts.

But the Iranian rejection of the U.S. offer appears to have ended the administration's hopes for an imminent rapproachment effort. Officials said the administration has backed off from any public gestures toward Teheran.

"We don't want to do anything that makes that more difficult," Ereli said. "We want to help. And so we respect their wishes. The time is not right. Would it be further in the future? That's a matter of speculation."

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover