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Iran Welcomes US Decision of Easing Sanctions

Iran on Thursday hailed a US decision to temporarily ease its sanctions against the Islamic republic as "positive," while calling on the United States to totally lift the sanctions. 

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, that despite being temporary, the US move to waive sanctions on Iran for a period of three months is "positive."


The foreign minister said Iran welcomes the US decision because it "will be able to speed cash donations" to the quake-stricken Iranians.


Meanwhile, Kharrazi urged the United States to totally lift the sanctions, saying such a move can create a new atmosphere in bilateral relations.


"Naturally, the permanent and total lifting of the sanctions would introduce a new climate into the relations between the two countries," he said.


A devastating earthquake hit the ancient city of Bam in southeastern Iran on Friday, killing about 40,000 people and destroying 70-80 percent of the city buildings.


Shortly after the quake, the Iranian government appealed for international humanitarian aid to the quake-affected region, and made clear that aid from any country would be welcomed except the Zionist regime of Israel.


Along with other world leaders, US President George W. Bush in a statement has expressed his sympathy to the victims of Bam quake. Washington has sent a group of 80 medical and rescue workers to Bam to participate international rescue operations and donated relief material for the quake victims there.


The Iranian government took the US aid as a "positive sign" for possible improvement of relations between Tehran and Washington, but said Washington needs to take more and substantial actions to improve their long-suspended relations.


On Wednesday, the US Treasury announced to ease its sanction on Iran for 90 days in order to speed up the flow of humanitarian relief to victims of the earthquake in Bam.


Under the new measures, US citizens and non-governmental organizations could make direct contributions of dollars to Iranian and other organizations for relief work in and around Bam.


Export of transportation equipment, satellite telephones and radio and personal computing systems will be permitted to help manage relief efforts.


Diplomatic observers believe that Bam quake may offer Iran and the United States an opportunity to move toward better relations as both Tehran and Washington have the desire to improve their long time battered relations.


(Xinhua News Agency January 2, 2004)

Iran Quake Toll May Hit 50,000
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