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Iran cites 'atmosphere of mistrust' in relations with U.S.

April 27, 1998
Web posted at: 8:22 p.m. EDT (0022 GMT)

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- An "atmosphere of mistrust" is impeding any improvement in relations between Iran and the United States, an Iranian official said Monday.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, quoted by state-run Tehran radio, said "billions of dollars" in Iranian assets remain frozen by the United States.

The assets were blocked after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran wants the United States to release the assets and end trade sanctions against the country to prove its willingness to work toward better relations.

"However, we do not see an honest approach and a change in U.S. behavior, and one cannot expect any improvement in ties in such an atmosphere of mistrust," Kharrazi said.

Kharrazi said a January address by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami calling for a dialogue with the United States had led to some changes in U.S. officials' tone toward Iran.

parade
Soldiers parade during Iran's Army Day  

Many Iranians noted that U.S. President Bill Clinton's message on the Muslim holiday of Eid specifically congratulated Iran. During Iran's Army Day last week, soldiers refrained from the customary stomping of the U.S. flag. Earlier this year, Iranian wrestling fans warmly welcomed a team of U.S. wrestlers.

But Iran has criticized a decision by the United States to broadcast Persian-language radio programming to Iran. Other sticking points include a decision by the United States to again include Iran on a list of countries that support terrorism, and a dispute over military equipment.

Iran claims it bought military equipment from the United States before the 1979 revolution but has never received the material.

As a part of the 1981 accord that freed 52 American hostages held by Iran, the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal was set up to handle financial disputes between the two countries. But Kharrazi said Monday that little progress has been made on the military equipment issue at the tribunal.

Earlier this month, Iran's representative to the tribunal said Iran wanted $2.8 billion plus interest for the equipment.

Correspondent Kasra Naji and Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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