Aid to Iran could bridge gaps

The international aid flowing into Iran after its devastating earthquake may encourage it to bolster relations with the West, notably the United States, as Washington says it is open to restoring dialogue with Tehran.

    US rescuers in Bam are part of international efforts

    Berlin's ambassador to Tehran Paul von Maltzahn on Tuesday said the aid could build new bridges.
      
    He said it was time "to overcome the deep-rooted mistrust between Iran and the United States," urging Tehran to acknowledge the scale of international solidarity after the quake in the historic city of Bam that is thought to have cost up to 50,000 lives.
      
    Washington severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1981, following the hostage crisis when 52 North Americans were held for 444 days at the US embassy.

    The first US military aircraft to land in Iran in more than 20 years arrived over the weekend carrying doctors and tonnes of emergency aid for survivors of what may be one of the worst quakes in modern history.

    US public assessment

    In a related development, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington is open to restoring dialogue after encouraging moves by Iran in recent months.

    US claims Bushehr nuclear reactor
    is creating illegal weapons

    This month, in a European-brokered deal, Iran agreed to snap United Nations inspections of its nuclear facilities, which the United States accuses are a front for building nuclear weapons.

    Iran categorically denies the allegations, saying its facilities are aimed at producing electricity.

    "All of those things taken together show, it seems to me, a new attitude in Iran in dealing with these issues - not one of total, open generosity. But they realise that the world is watching and the world is prepared to take action," Powell told The Washington Post.

    But Powell said Washington still had concerns over "terrorist" activities, charges Tehran also denies. 

    Other US officials said Powell's public assessment came as the administration was reviewing its policy on Iran for the third time since President George Bush took office in 2001, reported the newspaper. 

    It also has cited a senior Iranian official as saying if Washington is willing to look at the situation "more realistically," then Iran is willing to reciprocate.

    "What is needed for any cooperation is confidence," the official was quoted as saying.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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