News

June 25, 1998

U.S.-IRAN: THE ROAD TO RAPPROCHEMENT

The recent U.S. overture to Iran won high plaudits in the foreign media as an "eminently sensible" approach to ending the two decades-long break in bilateral relations and in coaxing Iran from its role as "instigator of global violence and subversion." Observers in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Latin America posited that an improvement in Tehran's relations with Washington would "impact positively" in several areas, including U.S. access to Central Asia and Caspian Sea gas and oil resources, the Middle East peace process and overall Western relations with the Islamic world. Amid the praise, however, most commentators judged that the U.S. initiative stemmed from a desire to compensate for shortcomings in a brace of policies from sanctions to nuclear non-proliferation to "dual containment" of Iran and Iraq and the Middle East peace process. There were several references to the U.S.-Iran World Cup soccer game on Sunday. In some sports analogies, the U.S. was portrayed as diplomatically "kicking the football in the direction of Tehran," and having learned a hard lesson after "being caught offside" the last time Iran experienced major political shifts--during the last days of the shah. Observers concluded that any normalization between the two countries would require time since their differences are deep and the issues in dispute are serious. These were highlights:

REGIONAL DYNAMICS--Analysts saw the thrust of U.S. policy as not only attempting to strengthen "moderate" forces in Iran, but also addressing concerns about nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan and the emerging military might of China. A Saudi Arabian paper argued that "the U.S. is trying to satisfy as much as possible all of those states which surround the Arabs." But a Bahraini paper complained that "when the U.S. decided to initiate rapprochement with Iran, it did not consult anyone, including the Gulf countries it was trying to convince that Iran was a threat to Gulf security." Other writers noted a "turnaround" or "shift" in the U.S. approach to "dual containment" and judged that the U.S. has set a course that is "making Iran powerful...and weakening Iraq."

IRAN MISSILE PROLIFERATION SANCTIONS ACT--Only a few pundits--from Russia, Germany and Israel--commented on President Clinton's veto Tuesday of a bill that would impose certain sanctions on foreign persons who transfer items contributing to Iran's efforts to acquire, develop, or produce ballistic missiles. Russian and German papers praised Mr. Clinton for showing "resoluteness," not allowing Congress "to determine" foreign policy and for putting up "resistance" to the "epidemic of sanctions." But independent Jerusalem Post, emphasizing the veto's offense to "principal ally" Israel, urged Congress "to waste no time in slam-dunking" the measure. "Congress may be addicted to sanctions, but Clinton seems to be allergic to them," it said. "From Russia, to China, to the withering sanctions against Iraq.... The result is that these nations are increasingly regarding challenges to the U.S. non-proliferation policy as cost-free."

This survey is based on 43 reports from 22 countries, June 19-25.

EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below

|  EUROPE  |    |  MIDDLE EAST  |    |  EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC  |    |  SOUTH ASIA  |   

MIDDLE EAST

ISRAEL: "Clinton's Sanctions Allergy"

The independent Jerusalem Post's lead editorial held (6/25): "President Bill Clinton is thought of, deservedly, as one of the greatest friends Israel has ever had in the White House. But the fact that he vetoed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act with the best of intentions does not change the grave consequences for the United States and its allies, principally Israel.... Congress may be addicted to sanctions, but Clinton seems to be allergic to them. From Russia, to China, to the withering sanctions against Iraq.... The result is that these nations are increasingly regarding challenges to the U.S. non-proliferation policy as cost-free.... The U.S. Congress should waste no time in slam-dunking Clinton's veto, in the hopes that it will begin to cure their president of his sanctions allergy."

"Iran Signals"

Anti-Netanyahu Ha'aretz wrote in its lead editorial (6/21): "The U.S. administration is making no secret of its desire to advance the dialogue with Iran.... The State Department spokesman noted that the war on terror is no longer a precondition for a dialogue, but rather a part of it.... These developments have not been welcomed in Israel. This indicates a fundamental disagreement between Israel and the United States Israel continues to see Iran as a very real threat, while the United States believes the new spirit in Iran should be encouraged.... Israel does not have to accept American policy, especially since Iran has made no conciliatory moves toward Israel. However, if the United States is sending signals to Iran, perhaps it is time Israel does the same."

"Iran Holds The Ball"

Nationalist Hatzofe wrote in its lead editorial (6/21): "President Clinton has indicated that in order to achieve 'genuine reconciliation,' the Iranians must renounce terror, desist from propagating dangerous weapons, and cease opposing the Middle East peace process. The President has indeed put his finger on the three major characteristics of the radical Iranian regime which have made it so dangerous to regional and even world peace.... It is now up to the Iranians to show the world that they have really changed and that their regime has mended its ways."

BAHRAIN: "Lessons From The Rapprochement"

Semiofficial Akhbar Al-Khalij ran this comment (6/24) by Sayed Zuhrah: "We hope that Arab countries learn the lessons of the new change in the U.S. policy toward Iran.... When the United States realized that its interests require such a change, it did not hesitate to make it, ignoring everything it said about Iran and its dangers. Second, when the United States decided to initiate rapprochement with Iran, it did not consult anyone, including the Gulf countries it was trying to convince that Iran was a threat to Gulf security.... Third, Iran did not make concessions to America.... Had Iran made any concessions, America would ask for more."

"Iranians Need Some Time"

Mohammed Fadhel commented in leading, semi-independent Al-Ayam (6/22): "The Americans realize, more than anyone else, that the Iranians need some time before they respond to their clear call for dialogue.... But the Americans should also be aware of another issue that is important to Iran and the Iranians. Iran is a nation that is immensely proud of itself and cannot be approached by the laying down of conditions.... It appears the United States understands this.... The problem now is with the Iranians themselves.... However, the disagreement between the moderates and the conservatives is not over if relations should be restored, but when."

"America Realized That It Lost Its Battle"

Sayed Zuhrah commented in leading, semi-official Akhbar Al-Khalij (6/21): "America realized that it has lost its battle to isolate and blockade Iran.... At the same time Iran, specifically the Khatami government, feels that it needs America."

EGYPT: "Dual Containment Policy Shaking"

Mohamed Sid Ahmed, columnist for opposition weekly Al Ahali, wrote (6/24), "Undoubtedly, Clinton's openness on the Iranian regime destroys the idea of dual containment.... Butler made statements on lifting the sanctions on Iraq then retracted them.... Why is the dual containment policy shaking? Is it because of Netanyahu's recurrent defiance of Clinton's policies?... The Clinton administration had to describe Netanyahu's decision on expanding in Jerusalem as provocative, [a word] which has never been used before.... Will Arabs exploit this open clash between Washington and Tel Aviv, or will they fail as they have done many times before?"

"Arab Public Opinion Should Not Get Involved"

Abdel Atti Mohamed declared in pro-government Al Ahram (6/23): "Although it was only a football match the general Arab dissatisfaction with American policy and Israel mobilized public opinion to support Iran and look for any kind of victory over the United States. The situation expressed the deterioration of U.S. credibility to the extent that President Clinton introduced the match as a door of hope for renewing relations with Iran. The Arab longing for the match in this way reflects utmost weakness due to the lack of political cards that can pressure the United States to change its policy in the region. There are more serious issues between the United States and Iran than a football match. But the matter concerns only the two countries and the Arab public opinion should not get involved, especially since Arab-Iranian relations are not up to the aspired-for level."

"Shake Hands And Exchange Smiles, But Game Is Not Over"

Assem el Quersh wrote in pro-government daily Al Ahram (6/21): "Until the truth about the unprecedented wooing between the United States and Iran is revealed, the most important event now is the football battle tonight.... The United States certainly knows that in international relations, as in football, you should not underestimate or ignore your foe forever. On the other hand, Iran should not translate any sports result as a victory or defeat of one nation against the other. Sports are not politics. The players may shake hands and exchange smiles, but that does not necessarily mean that the game between enemies is over."

JORDAN: "More Rapprochement"

Columnist Mahmoud Rimawi commented on the op-ed page of pro-government, influential Arabic Al-Ra'y (9/20): "It is evident now that the U.S. policy of dual containment against Tehran as an issue of the past and that the European stand for starting constructive dialogue with Tehran has won the day. The effect of the long-standing U.S.-Iran conflict may not be terminated in a short period of time. Nevertheless, economic relations and bilateral trade will eventually be the first fruits of rapprochement."

"The Third American Failure"

Columnist Urayb Rintawi maintained in an op-ed page piece in center-left, influential Arabic Al-Dustur (6/20): "Chances are that Clinton and Albright's reconciliatory remarks have resulted from consequent failures suffered by the U.S. policy toward Iran and these remarks have come to lay to rest the U.S. dual containment policy and the D'Amato bill.... Iran has been successful in breaking the blockade and isolation. The Islamic summit held in Tehran, the rapprochement

with the Gulf countries and the European stand against the D'Amato law and the dual containment policy stand as proof of that success.... The latest development in the U.S. position toward Iran is an expression of the third failure of U.S. policies in the Middle East, the first being the failure to oust Saddam Hussein from power and the second being the failure to salvage the peace process."

QATAR: "America Opening New Page In Good Relations With Iran"

Semi-independent Al-Watan's Ahmad Amrabi wrote (6/25): "America is finally beginning to open a new page in good relations with Iran. While this is good news, Washington is not in a position to impose conditions; rather, the opposite is the case. America must cease its hostile activities toward Iran and end its comprehensive war on the Iranian people."

SAUDI ARABIA: "The Success Of Dual Containment"

London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat had this editorial (6/23): "The United States is trying to satisfy as much possible all of those states which surround the Arabs, to the extent that it is now hinting of a role for Iran to play regarding the security arrangements in the Gulf.... Generally, how will the Arabs respond to this policy? Do they have other alternatives before them except to coordinate among their states without exception.... Perhaps the best example of this unilateral (U.S.) policy is the success of the U.S. policy of dual containment for Iran and Iraq, which succeeded in making Iran powerful...and weakening Iraq."

"Israel Won't Have A Role"

London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat held (6/22), "A positive element in the current American-Iranian normalization attempt is that any normalization which is realized would be accomplished without Israel playing a role as it had aspired and wished. In return, Iran will not end its attempts to distance itself from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the extent that its positions, commitments and interests allow. If Iran has opposed the current settlement on the Palestinian track, Netanyahu has taken (the burden) of proving the correctness of the Iranian position and saving it the trouble of undermining this settlement."

"Apology To Iran Implied"

London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat opined (6/21): "An evidence of the seriousness of the American offer is that Albright's remarks included an implicit apology for Tehran, in addition to signals from Washington that it is ready to include Iran in security arrangements regarding the Gulf.... The American initiative will constitute a real test of the ability of President Mohammed Khatami to continue his policy of taking Iran from a revolutionary stage to one based on institutions and law.... Currently, Iran exists in an instable area after India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests, the economic crisis of the Asian countries and the decline in oil prices. If Washington has picked this period to open a new chapter with Tehran we cannot also separate that from implicitly acknowledging that U.S. policy toward Iran and Iraq must change."

MOROCCO: "Play Soccer, Not Make War"

Mohamed Benarbia wrote this front page editorial in government-owned, French-language Liberation (6/23): "This match was not only a great one on the field, it was a beautiful thing to see off the field as well.... How much time do we still need for reconciliation between these two countries?"

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Normalization Means Effort From Both Sides"

Top-circulation, Sharjah-based Al-Khaleej opined (6/21): "The normalization of relations between Iran and the U.S. will defintely require some input from both sides.... We have to admit the importance of Iran's role in the region due to its geo-political and economic situation. Iran played a prominent role after World War II, until the Islamic revolution took over. When Iranian President Khatami was elected in what is called the democtaric revolution, Iran-American relations have changed from open enmity to one of 'civilized dialogue' and Iran is starting to gain international and regionl support. There are even some voices in the United States that are demanding an end to the containment policy. Any dialogue between the United States and Iran will open political, security and economic files.... There are sensitive issues regarded by some as red lines, like the regional role of Iran, its stand on Israel and Iran's role in South Lebanon. All these issues need to be tackled and will have an effect in any normalization."

EUROPE

RUSSIA: "Clinton's Veto Is Unlikely To Hold For Long"

Konstantin Eggert wrote in reformist daily Izvestia (6/25), "A new conflict has flared up between Bill Clinton and Congress. The president has vetoed the bill that would introduce sanctions against foreign companies which sell missile technologies to Iran.... But the presidential veto is more of a gesture toward Russia with which the State Department has for years been conducting a difficult dialogue on the leakage of missile technologies to Iran. One result of the discussion is the government decree of January 22, 1998 on tighter control of missile technology export signed by Viktor Chernomyrdin. Many Western experts believe the document, like a number of widely publicized...operations to stop 'missile contraband,' is confined to cosmetic measures as a sop to Western public opinion. Congress shares that view. At the same time Clinton exerted considerable efforts to maintain a dialogue with Russia even in the context of a 'cold peace' between Moscow and Washington. He prefers a difficult dialogue to a showdown. Congressmen and senators claim that the new act does not damage the relations between the two states as it is not aimed against countries, but against concrete companies....

"Clinton's veto is unlikely to hold for long. Congressmen and senators from his own Democratic Party have already declared they would vote with the Republicans on the issue. So, the two-thirds majority required to overcome the presidential veto and give a final approval to the bill will be mustered."

"Big Shift In U.S.' Iran Policy"

Konstantin Eggert pointed out in reformist Izvestiya (6/19): "It marks a serious shift in the United States' Iran policy. Tough anti-Iran sentiment does not prevail in Washington any more. New approaches are being developed. Albright's statement is further evidence that Iran is on the way to serious changes. The Americans trust Khatami and are willing to do business with him."

BRITAIN: "U.S. Happy At Tehran Team's Triumph"

The conservative Times had this from Washington (6/23) concerning Iran's win at the World Soccer Championship: "The scenes of jubilation in Tehran and the apparent lack of anti-American sentiment during the celebrations provided the administration with further signs of a change in popular support in Iran since the election of President Khatami."

"Clinton Plays Diplomacy As Iran Plays Ball"

The centrist Independent reported from Washington (6/22): "As an act of consummate popular diplomacy, President Clinton yesterday used the Iran-America clash on the football field to make a direct appeal for an end to the 20-year diplomatic standoff between the two countries. Mr. Clinton's brief message was the latest, and by far the most public, step in a slow warming of United States policy towards Iran.... It is not known what impact the pre-recorded television message had on the millions of jubilant Iranians who poured onto the streets of Tehran to cheer their triumph over a political arch-rival."

FRANCE: "Washington Relents On Containment Policy"

Laurent Zecchini opined in left-of-center Le Monde (6/23): "Madeleine Albright's offer proves that those in favor of a softer approach have won. The administration would not have run the risk of making such a gesture if there had not been a similar evolution within Congress.... The Iranian question is one of the few in which the United States recognizes that France has showed the way, with its 'critical dialogue'.... Yet the Clinton administration cannot go too quickly, at least not until Iran recognizes its involvement in terrorist acts.... The U.S. administration no longer believes in its isolation policy: specialists believe that, with the recent nuclear testing in India and Pakistan, it is urgent to return to a dialogue with Iran."

"Amazing Soccer"

Dominique Bromberger commented on government-funded France Inter radio (6/22): "The rapprochement between the United States and Iran, symbolized by yesterday's soccer match is a necessity for both nations.... Washington's 'dual containment' policy against Iran and Iraq has failed.... The unilateral embargo, namely against oil investments in Iran did not stop Total from signing a major contract with that country. President Clinton wisely gave up on sanctions dictated by Congress.... In Washington, many are saying that Clinton would like to be the president of the U.S. reconciliation with Iran. Like Nixon with China."

GERMANY: "Clinton Wants To Pave Way For New Iran, Russia Policies"

Washington correspondent Juergen Koar wrote in centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung (6/25): "Enough is enough. With his presidential veto, President Clinton signaled that the sanctions on Iran should be lifted. Congress with his party friends at the helm are trying to put him in chains again but this time the president put up resistance. Clinton no longer allowed Congress to determine foreign policy. With its punitive measures Congress wanted to hit Russia and Iran at a time when Clinton needs flexibility to extend cooperation with Moscow and to prepare the ground for cooperation with Tehran.... In the end, it is no more than a show fight between the president and Congress, because the opponents will be able to outvote the veto. But Clinton has now made the first steps to put up resistance to this epidemic of sanctions. The fact that he chose this bill reveals his resoluteness not to allow Congress to meddle in his business. And this is particularly the case when Clinton wants to pave the way for a new policy towards Russia and Iran."

"Beacon Of Hope For The West"

Stefan Avenarius noted in an editorial in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/23): "Khatami's success also depends on an improvement of the economic situation. This means that it its time to seriously think about the end to the policy of sanctions against Iran."

"Step By Step"

Washington correspondent Yvonne Esterhazy filed this editorial for business Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (6/22): "One reason for Washington to intensify the dialogue with Tehran is that the United States has an interest in strengthening the moderate forces in the Iranian leadership. As far as geo-politics are concerned, these overtures make sense with respect to the architecture for a future security structure in the region..... However, the old U.S. complaints about Iran regarding human rights, the development of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the undermining of the Middle East peace process continue to exist.... Thus, the normalization of relations will continue to take some time."

"Turnaround"

In left-of-center Die Tageszeitung of Berlin (6/16) Juergen Gottschlich commented, "Now it is official: Washington wants to normalize its relations with Iran.... With the fall of the Soviet Union and access to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea and Central Asia, foreign policy makers of the United States reevaluated relations between the United States and Iran. In the argument with Russia over dominance in the region, Iran could be become an important ally. In addition, the Russian pipeline monopoly could be broken if already 'existing' Iranian pipelines could be used. But for the United States there are other important reasons to normalize relations with Iran. The stability of Saudi Arabia, the Arab-Israeli peace process and a long-term solution for Iraq, would all be easier to achieve if Iran would cooperate.... After Albright's speech, it should be possible for Europeans and Americans to coordinate their Iran policy to support the reform movement in Tehran. The opening and democratization of Iran does not only serve the oil industry, but the relations of the West toward the Islamic world."

ITALY: "The Tehran Wall"

An editorial in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica held (6/19): "The U.S. opening to President Khatami's Iran paradoxically threatens to make the internal struggle for power even more violent.... In diplomacy, and, most of all, in a professional diplomacy such as that of the United States, words are never casual: If the U.S. secretary of state refers to Iran as an 'Islamic Republic,' that means that the U.S. political-military establishment has decided to open a dialogue with the Islamic regime and to accept the heirs of Ayatollah Khomeini as a counterpart.... Does that mean that everything is well? Shall we just wait for time and diplomacy to bring down one more wall? Not at all: The Khatami regime is anything but stable, and the struggle between the president and the conservatives is furious.... There is a tragic precedent in the struggle between old and new, between reformists and conservatives over the last few years. It's Mikhail Gorbachev's 'perestroika'....We all remember what happened to Gorbachev. And, along with the Americans, we should all hope for a different outcome of Kathami's reforms."

"U.S. Could Not Have been More Clear"

Ennio Caretto commented from Washington in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (6/19): "The U.S. opening could not have been more clear: America perceives its former foe as a possible guarantor in one of the most explosive areas of the world, and is ready to switch from confrontation to collaboration. The former 'Big Satan' would thus mix with the Islamic holy water, from Kuwait to Afghanistan.... Like Nixon in 1971 with China, Clinton has no intention of reconsidering. The American president yesterday made his choice: enough with the dual containment policy towards Iran and Iraq in the Persian Gulf, but thaw with the former and tug-of-war with the latter. Almost to underline that, yesterday the State Department announced that it will increase aid to Iraqi dissidents, going as far as supporting a government in exile. Iran, was the comment, has restored relations with countries in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia first of all, while Iraq remains a danger for all. "

BELGIUM: "Isolation And Scoffing Yield Nothing At All"

Foreign editor Robert Capiot had this editorial in conservative Catholic Het Belang van Limburg (6/23): "U.S. President Bill Clinton has understood: the isolation and continuing scoffing at Iran are yielding nothing at all. Europe has always opted for a critical dialogue with Tehran. It should now give that dialogue a more concrete outlook in the fields of sports, cultural and economic relations."

"Albright's Cautious Trial Baloon"

Foreign affairs writer Manu Tassier asked in independent Catholic De Standaard (6/19), "Did Madeleine Albright try to diminish the tension around the soccer World Championship match United States-Iran? The U.S. Secretary of State cautiously launched the prospect of normal relations. The Clinton administration has thus given an important signal....

"Recently, Washington has increasingly launched trial balloons to relax its Tehran policy. That is related to the election of President Mohamad Khatami who is considered a liberal.... However, the road is still long. Albright did not announce new concrete measures. The United States continues to reproach Tehran to support international terrorism and it does not abandon its opposition to the construction of transit pipelines on Iranian territory. Tehran remains cautious. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi said that Washington must abandon its 'hostile policy' before a normalization of the relations can be envisaged. One will also have to wait and see whether the spring continues to last in Tehran."

"Mrs. Albright's Good Reasons"

Pierre Lefevre wrote in independent Le Soir (6/19), "Business and diplomacy are presently on good terms in the United States. Essentially economic reasons have already resulted in a similar reversal of U.S. policies toward China.... Washington is offering the normalization of Iran-American relations in return for 'positive gestures' on the part of Tehran.... There is no doubt, however, that Tehran, where a reformist policy is far from being certain to prevail, will need coaxing."

"Virtual Endorsement Of European Strategy Of 'Critical Dialogue'"

In conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique, foreign editor Gerald Papy observed (6/19), "The United States' 'dual containment' policy toward Iraq and Iran has demonstrated its powerlessness, due in part to the European Union's obstinacy in maintaining a minimal

level of relations with Baghdad and Tehran. The ongoing struggle, in Iran, between conservatives and moderates since the election of the new president mainly represents a threat of destabilization of a key country in the region. By proposing a program of normalization of relations with Iran, the Americans are sending a remarkable message of support to the president of the Islamic Republic. The other side of the coin is that the United States' virtual endorsement of the European strategy of 'critical dialogue' will reinforce the conservatives, grouped behind the Guide of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, in their fierce opposition to the supporters of the moderate trend. The new American measures nevertheless represent the only policy likely to make freedom overcome obscurantism in Tehran."

DENMARK: "U.S. Has Continued Its Policy Of Isolation"

Left-wing Information said (6/23) said in a news analysis that while President Clinton and President Khatami appear open to initiating critical dialogue, both leaders are faced with fierce domestic opposition regarding bilateral relations. The paper judged that the "core objective of U.S. foreign policy in the region is to control the Middle East in order to safeguard energy

supplies and protect Israel" and that "the United States has continued and intensified its policy of isolation, despite the fact that Iran has altered its foreign policy in line with American wishes."

POLAND: "Soccer Diplomacy"

Center-left Gazeta Wyborcza edition (6/20-21) ran this article by Leopold Unger: "Secretary of State Madeleine Albright kicked away the 'doctrine of stopping' [foreign policy] in effect against Iran and proposed to replace it with the 'doctrine of engagement.' Why did she kick the football in this direction? For a few reasons. First, because the Western world has already been kicking the football in the direction of Tehran and further waiting is to risk being caught offside or even in a permanent diplomatic out. Second, this business has stopped being profitable. One should end the boycott of Iran which has resulted in U.S. businesses losing billions of dollars in favor of its closest allies.... Third, because Iran, which was the first to welcome the nuclear testing by Pakistan, is a major and very wealthy candidate playing on the team of the 'Islamic bomb.' Such a player needs to be closely watched..... Fourth, because another game is now being played in Tehran between the progressive ayatollahs (anything is relative), coalesced around Khatami, and the orthodox conservatives for whom soccer is, among other things, a symbol of Western rot."

SPAIN: "The Iranian Crucible"

Liberal El Pais commented (6/19): "At the epicenter of Iranian politics is a struggle between moderates in the politico-clerical hierarchy directed by Khatami and his predecessor, Rafsanjani, and the orthodox clergy aligned with Khameini who seek to thwart all attempts at opening.... Pressure applied by the latter has led to the cancellation of a trip to the United States by a group of Iranian journalists who were to have interviewed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The struggle is being waged on every possible front, from the closure of pro-reform newspapers, as happened last week,...to the prosecution of the reform mayor of Tehran, Gholamhussein Karbaschi, accused of waste and corruption. Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian regime for having executed 143 opponents, for its star-chamber trials, the torture of prisoners, and the use of stoning and flogging as punishments. Yet, some movement is discernible.... The dialogue with the United States...grows more credible with each new contact between athletes and academics.

"Clinton, on a charm offensive, stated yesterday that the United States seeks a 'genuine reconciliation' with Iran, while American oil companies press Congress openly for a lifting of the sanctions that prevent them from doing business with the Islamic republic."

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA: "Soccer Diplomacy"

The centrist Times of India had this editorial (6/23): "Given its suspicions about Iran's nuclear ambitions--and its failure to detect the preparations for the Indian tests--the Clinton administration is realizing the folly of trying to isolate Iran.... One way for the United States to attenuate the impact of China's power projection is to normalize relations with Iran.... Objectively speaking, a nuclear Pakistan backed by China poses more problems to the United States.... In the longer run, the United States will find it has no alternative but to cultivate Iran.... If the United States sheds its fundamentalist anti-Iran policy, major sections of Iranian society are bound to respond positively."

"U.S. Vs. Iran"

An editorial in the independent bi-weekly Dawat (6/22) declared, "It is a good news indeed that the United States is willing to have cordial relations with Iran.... Whatever the motives, the American offer should be welcomed, even as it comes after almost two decades of incessant U.S. conspiracies of punishing, humiliating and isolating Iran. The American offer of closer relations and cooperation is itself a testimony of Iran's success in meeting the challenges put before by the U.S. hostility all along the years. In a changed atmosphere, the Iranian leadership should also refrain from unnecessary confrontations with the United States. Neither should a positive response to the offer be attached with the unnecessary condition of scrapping sanctions first. Lifting of sanctions must be a logical outcome when the United States is itself keenly looking for normalizing relations. A meaningful improvement in Iran-U.S. relations will certainly have a positive effect on peace and stability, not only in Asia but also in the world as a whole."

PAKISTAN: "Olive Branch"

An editorial in the center-right national daily Nation held (6/21), "In a landmark development, the United States has offered an olive branch to its long time nemesis Iran.... The United States should appreciate the sober and mature approach of the new Iranian president and his sincere efforts to nudge Iran back into the global mainstream. By engaging Iran more, Washington will strengthen the hands of President Khatami who remains embroiled in a struggle against the powerful conservative clergy. Improved relations between Iran and the United States will be beneficial not only for the two countries but also for the region as cooperation between the two in numerous areas will reduce tension and encourage efforts aimed at untying economic and political knots."

"Welcome U.S. Offer"

Islamabad's sensationalist, anti-U.S. Muslim maintained (6/20), "In a major overture after nearly two decades of enmity and distrust, the Clinton administration offered to start a new relationship with Iran that includes a role in Persian Gulf Security system. However, it is for the United States to first take genuine reconciliatory measures. Iran is now a genuine democracy and the United States should be happy about it. Secondly, Iran is today playing a key role in the affairs of the region. The United States can help Iran to enhance this role for the cause of peace and stability of the area.... Finally, one would commend Clinton's positive attitude towards Iran and the Muslim world. This is the right policy, which should replace the policy of sanctions, threats, use of force, acrimony and hatred. However, it must be kept in mind that this process of reconciliation will be a tricky and long one. And again much will depend on United States. It is wished that the U.S. move is a genuine one."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

INDONESIA: "U.S. Approaches Iran With Soccer Diplomacy"

Independent afternoon daily Suara Pembaruan held (6/21): "We believe that Iran has little to gain in terms of global interests, there would not be that much to gain in reviving diplomatic ties and bilateral cooperation. Iran is rich in natural resources and possesses a strong defense system, the strong fundamentals of a high culture, and strong religious beliefs. Yet, in the era of globalization, where all the nations and countries come together in peace and cooperation, a hostile posture would be counter-productive.... On the other hand, the United States is willing to begin establishing relations and contacts towards improving the ties, so long as Iran stops its support for international terrorism. It might be difficult for Tehran to accept the demand, or Tehran may require some other political concessions.

"These things deserve U.S. attention, for Iran has long followed domestic considerations and relied on the consistency of the Iranian Islamic revolution.... Iran also expects mutual respect from the United States."

SINGAPORE: "Playing Ball With Iran"

The pro-government Straits Times commented (6/23), "Iran's intense power struggle, which continued unabated even while the Iranian team doubled its lead in Lyons, is something that the United States has been slow to grasp. First, the Americans failed to gauge the depth of feeling against the shah or anticipate the vehemence of the revolution; then it seemed unable to understand that the revolutionary forces were not monolithic, and that the clergy, leftists and non-Islamic political parties all had different agendas....

"Mr. Clinton's belated suggestion of a reconciliation may have been prompted by an awareness of his own isolation even in the Western camp, with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook objecting to sanctions, and the French going a stage further to sign a U.S. $2 billion oil contract with Tehran. Presumably, the United States has also noted that, far from being the instigator of global violence and subversion, Mr. Khatami has taken a firm stand against terrorism in the Organization of Islamic Conference, tried to mount a combined initiative with Italy and Greece to discuss the Algerian killings, and criticized the Muslim world for remaining silent in the face of such butchery. At home, his appointment of women judges was yet another attempt to loosen the stranglehold of the ayatollahs. Of course, given Ayatollah Khamenei's powerful opposition, Mr. Khatami has had to follow a zigzag course.

"This ding-dong battle will worsen as Ayatollah Khamenei tries to regain the upper hand. But the failure of the clerics to control Sunday's outburst of joyous celebration reinforced the view that many Iranians have had enough of a bleak theocracy. Mr. Khatami can benefit from the upsurge to liberalize the regime. Now that he has at last responded, Mr. Clinton can help the process by continuing to play ball with Mr. Khatami, but discreetly."

LATIN AMERICA

ARGENTINA: "Clinton Offered Reconciliation To Iran"

Jorge Elias, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion, commented (6/19), "Just three days before the U.S. Iranian football teams meet in Lyon, France, Bill Clinton pleaded for a new era in the relationship between the two countries after almost two decades of mutual hostilities.... In the eyes of Washington, Khatami kept his promise of promoting dialogue, showing more respect for the U.S. people than for the U.S. government....

"Tehran has not forgotten that Washington supported [Iraq's] Hussein--today its main enemy--in the war between Iran and Iraq. The United States feared that an Iranian victory could give rise to more bloodshed in the region and hostilities towards the United States..... That is the reason why Iran's first answer was negative: The U.S. proposal was considered inadequate by Tehran's state radio since 'the United States should waive its policy of violence and apologize for the mistakes made during the last 50 years.' Iran...is the main promoter of international terrorism.... When Khatami reached out to Washington, objections could be heard, for instance from the Iran News newspaper, linked with the ministry of foreign relations."

For more information, please contact:

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Telephone: (202) 619-4355

6/25/98

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