AS ZEALOTS BURNED US FLAG, NOURI DEFENDED DIALOGUE WITH AMERICA
TEHRAN 4TH Nov. (IPS) As anti-US demonstrators organised by hard liners were burning American, British and Israeli flags, chanting "death to America" and reading prepared resolution rejecting dialogue with the United States, a prominent cleric would defend the resumption of relations with Washington "based on dignity, wisdom and the interests of the country".
''Who has said that having relations means dependence? At present we have diplomatic relations with over 100 countries. Does this means that we depend on them? It is the same with America. Who has said that having relations means becoming dependent? No one says we should surrender to America, but we should base our relations with others, including America on dignity, wisdom, and interests of the country,'' hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri told the Clergymen’s Special Tribunal (CST).
Mr. Nouri, a former Interior Minister, senior adviser to the president and president of the Tehran’s City Council is tried by the CST on several charges, ranging from insulting Islam, the grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny, his successor ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, supporting grand ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri or banned political organisations.
In the fourth session of his trial, Mr. Nouri was answering charges of supporting the resumption of relations with the United States, encouraging recognition of Israel and defending Iranian national Front and Iranian Freedom Movement of the late Mehdi Bazargan.
His defence of dialogue and possibly normalisation with Washington coincided with the 20th anniversary of the occupation, on 4 November 1979, of the United States embassy in Tehran by revolutionary students who took all the 55 diplomats hostage for 444 days, most of them now strong supporters of renewing relations with the Great Satan.
While Tehran Radio sounded as the whole nation was "reverberating" with celebration of the occupation of the "nest of spies", the name given to the former US embassy now turned into a training school for revolutionary guards, independent journalists and sources told Iran Press Service that most of the demonstrators were secondary school boys and girls, revolutionary guards and basij soldiers and their families brought by the conservatives by bus to the site of the huge diplomatic mission.
Mr. Nouri’s comments concerning the possible necessity of resuming relations with the US were in sharp contrast to earlier declaration by the leader of the Islamic regime who, two days ago, had once again ruled out any dialogue with the Great Satan.
"Those who suggest we should talk to the Americans and normalise with them are ignorant or idiot", he told a bunch of zealot students.
But Mr. Nouri observed that the grand ayatollah Khomeiny’s decision to severe relations with Washington was taken in specific circumstances and he could have agreed with resuming them provided it served the interests of the Islamic Republic.
During demonstrations organised on Wednesday by the Office of Strengthening Unity to mark the same occasion, university students and pro-reform personalities, among them several students who had planed and participated at the occupation of American embassy did called for normalising relations with Washington provided the United States would not resume it’s past hegemonistic policy over Iran.
Relations between Tehran and Washington were broke off after the storming of the American embassy and hostage taking of the diplomats.
The United States says the Islamic Republic must stop opposing the Middle Peace process, stop it’s projects and efforts for the production of weapons of mass destruction and stop supporting international terrorism before any start up of negotiations.
Iran accuses Washington of constant plotting against the Islamic regime, wants it’s assets frozen in the States be returned and Washington apologise for the ‘crimes" it committed against the Iranian people under the former regime.
Months after his landslide victory, hojatoleslam president Mohammad Khatami talked of "cracking the wall of mistrust", but so far not much cracks have appeared. Washington continue a purposeless stick and carrots policy, proposing unconditional talks at official level but repeating and reiterating its 3 points conditions and Iranian ruling conservatives, including ayatollah Khameneh’i considers normalisation of relations with the United States as the end of the revolution and the raison d’etre of the Islamic Republic.
"Who is the decision maker for the Islamic Republic of Iran? Who should decide on this issue (establishment of relation)?'' the tribunal president hojatoleslam Mohammad Salimi asked the defendant.
"This is the government that should make such a decision but experts can express their views according to the law", Mr. Nouri observed.
''Views cannot be in contradiction of the "neither East nor West" policy of the country, Mr. Salimi interrupted.
''What we mean by "neither East nor West" motto is not being dependent. Did we not have relations with the Soviet Union before the latter's collapse. Then can we say we had been dependent on it?'' Mr. Nouri reminded
''Who should recognise dignity, wisdom and interests? Judge Salimi asked.
''In practice, officials within the ruling body but every body can express his or her views in this regard,'' the Editor of Khordad daily answered.
In an authorised commentary that echoed ayatollah Khameneh’i’s remarks, Tehran Radio observed that considering Tehran and Washington’s wide different views on many political, economic and cultural issues, "talking of resumption of relations under such conditions is nor logical neither realistic, unless the US makes drastic changes in its policies in relation with both Iran and the region. ENDS NOURI TRIAL 41199