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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Report: Bush to declare renewal of ties with Iran

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Several American media outlets reported on Saturday that President George Bush is likely to announce after next month's presidential elections that he intends to restore the diplomatic relations with Iran, almost 30 years after they were suspended.

Quoting U.S. civil servants, the reports said that Bush's decision to postpone the announcement until after the elections was meant to rid the two presidential candidates of having to deal with the controversial move.

In the first stage, the American administration allegedly seeks to appoint a low-level diplomatic delegation, and has already started the recruitment process.

Tehran has already been informed of the initiative, but its view on the matter remains unclear. Similar reports were published a few months ago, but the plan was then put on hold.

Earlier this month, the American Iranian Council, a U.S.-based organization, was banned from operating in Iran. However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a U.S. tour last month that he would consider restoring his country's relations with the U.S.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Tehran would favorably consider such proposal, as long as it was to be carried out bilaterally.

U.S. sources said the purpose of the diplomatic effort is to better communicate American messages to the Iranian people, which are largely hostile to the U.S. They said that it does not signal a conciliatory approach to the Iranian regime or any change of policy vis-à-vis the contentious issues that are on the table, namely Iran's nuclear program.

The United States severed its diplomatic ties with Iran in 1979, in the wake of the Islamic revolution that ousted the Shah and brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. A group of Iranian students, supported by the Islamists, took over the American embassy and held its workers hostage for over a year.

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