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Iran wants more than a "diplomatic smile" from Clinton

TEHRAN, April 21 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi welcomed Wednesday conciliatory remarks by US President Bill Clinton but stressed that a "diplomatic smile" was not enough and there must be a "change in behaviour."

"Clinton's remarks indicate an admission of decades of unjust relations that the US established with Iran," Kharazi said in an interview with the Jaame-Jam International Network, an Iranian television channel broadcasting abroad.

"Confession of one's misdoings, if made honestly, is something good which demands courage," the foreign minister said, according to the text of his remarks released by the ministry.

However, "it remains to be seen whether the US brings any change into its behavior toward Iran. Certainly, there (are) many wrong policies that we expect the US administration to change," Kharazi said.

Clinton's statements will be considered only a "diplomatic smile, if there is no change in behavior," Kharazi added.

"Iran, because of its enormous geopolitical importance over time, has been the subject of quite a lot of abuse from various Western nations," Clinton said last week at a conference in the United States.

"And I think sometimes it's quite important to tell people: look, you have a right to be angry at something my country or my culture, or others that are generally allied with us today, did to you 50 or 60 or 100 or 150 years ago," he said.

"We have to listen for possible ways we can give people the legitimacy of some of their fears, or some of their angers, or some of their common grievances, and then say they rest on other grounds.

"Now, can we build a common future," the US leader asked.

In his response, Kharazi demanded that the United States stop supporting the People's Mujahedeen, the main armed Iranian opposition group, which claimed responsibility for the April 10 assassination of Iranian General Ali Sayad Shirazi.

"We see that the US releases a list of terrorist groups and at the same time, the same terrorist groups and their advocates are allowed to act freely against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the US under different covers," Kharazi said.

Although the Mujahedeen is on the US list of terrorist groups, the Mujahedeen-dominated National Council of Resistance of Iran is not.

"This is an unacceptable equation," Kharazi said.

"The US should prosecute such terrorist groups and avoid accusing Iran of supporting terrorism," he said.

Washington has imposed an economic embargo against Iran, which it accuses of supporting international terrorism, attempting to sabotage the Middle East peace process and seeking to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

The Islamic republic has been a frequent target of American anger since the hostage taking at the US embassy in Tehran, shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, that led to the rupture of diplomatic ties.

Some Iranian moderates have been keen to seize on Clinton's conciliatory remarks as an opportunity to mend fences with Washington, while hardliners remain implacable in their hatred of the United States.


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