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Senior Iranian clerics denounce any resumption of ties with U.S.

TEHRAN, May 13 (AFP) - Senior Iranian clerics denounced any resumption of ties between Tehran and Washington, its arch-foe since the 1979 Islamic revolution, in a statement issued on Thursday after their annual meeting here.

The clerics stressed the "Islamic Republic's unbending stance towards the great American Satan" given that "the US still continues its hostile policies towards Iran."

"As long as this hostility continues, there is no chance of resuming ties with this country (US) and we will continue our stride towards independence and self-sufficiency and put an end to our dependency on oil revenues," said the statement released after the meeting Tuesday and Wednesday.

The clerics equally rejected US allegations that Iran supports terrorism and is guilty of human rights violations.

The clerics, who are responsible for giving the weekly Moslem prayer sermons throughout the country, exercise great influence on public opinion.

In late April, Washington announced it was easing sanctions on Iran, Libya and Sudan to allow the export of US food and medicine which had previously been barred under restrictions applied to countries appearing on a State Department list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi slammed the US move as not going far enough. "There has been a change in their tone but we have not seen a change in America's behaviour," Kharazi said last Friday.

Tehran and Washington broke off diplomatic ties after Iranian students seized hostages at the US embassy in Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Washington in 1995 placed Iran under a unilateral economic embargo and in 1996 adopted a legislation allowing them to take measures against all foreign investments in Iran.

Clinton made an unusual overture towards the Islamic republic last month, in which he said that "Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations."

Kharazi welcomed Clinton's remarks but he stressed that a "diplomatic smile" was not enough and urged a "change in behaviour."

In recent months, several radical and ex-radical political personalities close to reformist President Mohammad Khatami, have called for a rapprochment with the "Great Satan" angering conservatives.


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