Index

DATE=3/2/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=IRAN / U-S RELATIONS NUMBER=5-45564 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The recent parliamentary elections in Iran focused attention primarily on domestic issues such as individual freedoms, political reform and economic revitalization. Foreign policy, however, also was a subject of debate. Probably the hottest (most contentious) topic in this area was relations with the United States, which have been severed for more than two decades. Correspondent Scott Bobb talked with politicians and voters during the elections and has this report. TEXT: In Iran, a generation has been well educated on the wrongs of the United States government -- as the Iranian government sees them. As a result, a conversation between an American visitor and almost any Iranian will eventually include a long list of Iranian complaints against the United States. /// Opt /// Many Iranians express resentment over perceived interference by the U-S government that goes back half-a-century to the coup that aborted the country's democratic government and installed a repressive monarchy. The American visitor will explain that there is continuing American resentment over the humiliation suffered from the U-S embassy hostage incident and other anti-American acts following the Iranian revolution. /// End Opt /// Nevertheless, Iranians are friendly and interested in exchanging views. Most say there is no problem between the people of Iran and the United States, only between their governments. For example, the editor of one of the most anti- American newspapers, Tehran's Jebheh weekly, says he does not give interviews to U-S reporters. But he does agree to a meeting to talk. /// OPT /// Inside his offices, on the ground floor of a modest building in central Tehran, sandbags are piled in one corner. Camouflage netting hangs from the ceiling along with military gear and banners with revolutionary and Islamic slogans. Paintings on the walls show young Iranian soldiers dying in the trenches during the Iran-Iraq war. /// END OPT /// The editor accuses the U-S government of responsibility for the war and most other ills afflicting Iranian society. Asked if there are any prospects for improving relations, he answers: not as long as America remains America. Other political leaders are less bitter. Most foresee better relations, although they differ on how they will come about. The leader of the reformist alliance that has swept (won) a majority of the seats in parliament, Mohammedreza Khatami, is optimistic about future relations, but still cautious. /// KHATAMI ACT /// I think in the future we will have normal relations with the United States, but the time that we can get this relation, I cannot guess. /// END ACT /// Mohammedreza Bayona, a spokesman for the conservative alliance that is now in the opposition, does not dismiss an improvement of relations, but underscores the sensitivities over what many Iranians see as U-S interference in their affairs. /// BAYONA ACT. IN FARSI FADE UNDER /// Mr. Bayona says recent comments by U-S officials hoping that the reformist victory will improve relations demonstrates what he calls the same characteristic of dominance. He says if the U-S government wants to improve relations, it should free Iranian assets in the United States and lift U-S sanctions against Iran. /// Opt /// He says the U-S government should also stop what he calls its dual approach, whereby it condemns Iran for activities, like pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but says nothing about similar activities by the government of Israel. /// End Opt /// In recent months, U-S officials have said they want to begin talks with Iran aimed at normalizing relations. However, they say Iran must improve its human rights record, stop undermining the Middle East peace process and halt its support for international terrorism. The next generation of Iranian leaders, for the most part, wants improved relations, like mechanical engineering student, Reza Talebari. /// TALEBARI ACT. IN FARSI WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION /// Talks between the U-S and Iran should take place and eventually it will, and it's to the benefit of both sides. But there's a double standard going on. /// END ACT /// /// BEGIN OPT /// A graduate student in civil engineering, Jamal Zaherpour, says Iran's main complaint against the U-S government is what he calls its domineering approach toward other nations. /// ZAHERPOUR ACT. IN FARSI WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION /// There are some incidents where Iran itself may be, in some cases, extremist. But the main problem is the authoritative attitude of America. America wants to pay the least cost for a relationship and they want the highest margin of profit. /// END ACT /// /// END OPT /// The students say they want Iran to be part of the modern world, although its Islamic character must be preserved. They foresee a rapid improvement of relations with Western Europe and former rivals in the Arab world. They say if Iran and the United States respect each other's opinions and approach dialogue on an equal basis, their relations, too, should improve quickly. (Signed) NEB/SB/GE/JP 02-Mar-2000 13:15 PM EDT (02-Mar-2000 1815 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .