Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 20 Feb 2000 to 21 Feb 2000 - Special issue

There are 17 messages totalling 1210 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Iran Reformists Winning Big in Vote
2. Death sentence of Iranian student upheld
3. U.S.: Iranians Seek Engagement
4. Gulf Arabs hope Iran vote will aid rapprochement
5. Election Result and Respecting the Pen!
6. Angry Supporters
7. Sixth Majlis Will Influence Iran-U.S. Relations
8. Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Association to Regulate Bilateral Ties
9. Iranian reformers lead early election returns
10. Russia hopes Iran vote will help openness
11. Germany says would welcome reform win in Iran poll
12. NEWSMAKER-Mohammad Reza Khatami joins East and West
13. France says big Iran turnout boosts reform drive
14. Iran election to help international links - Italy
15. Iran opens underground railway line in Tehran
16. ANALYSIS-Syria, Israel face choice of talks or war
17. Iran Inaugurates Tehran Subway

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 03:04:17 EST
Subject: Iran Reformists Winning Big in Vote

Iran Reformists Winning Big in Vote

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A former intelligence minister whose agents were accused
of killing political enemies was among leading hard-liners going down to
defeat Sunday as it became increasingly clear that Iranians want a
reform-minded parliament.

If the returns from Friday's election continue to favor the reformists, as is
likely, it will be the first time the parliament is free of hard-line
domination since the 1979 Islamic revolution brought the clergy to power.

Results had been announced Sunday for 190 of the 290 seats in the Majlis, or
parliament. Winners are listed only by name, not affiliation, but a
background check of the candidates by The Associated Press showed the winners
included 137 reformists - or 72 percent.

Conservatives had taken 44 seats, or 23 percent, and independents had nine
seats, or 5 percent. The Interior Ministry, in charge of the elections, will
announce the final results when they become known later this week.

Meanwhile, four provincial cities were reported calm after election-related
violence Saturday that left eight dead, Kayhan newspaper reported.

The paper said three teen-agers were killed and 10 injured when police fired
into a crowd that was trying to get into the governor's office in the town of
Dasht-e-Azadegan. The young men were angry that their candidate did not win,
the paper said. It did not give the candidate's affiliation.

Five people were reportedly killed in the town of Shush in clashes with
police. They were protesting the re-election of a candidate they accused of
vote-buying, the paper said.

In Isfahan, Iran's second-largest city, reformists won all five seats. A
big-name hard-line loser there was former Intelligence Minister Ali

Reformists have suggested that Fallahian should be officially questioned
about rogue Intelligence Ministry agents who murdered five dissidents in
1998. In 1997, a German court issued a warrant for Fallahian, saying Iran's
highest rulers ordered the 1992 assassination of an Iranian-Kurdish
opposition figure in Berlin.

A reformist wave has been sweeping Iran since the May 1997 election of
President Mohammad Khatami. The 56-year-old president, a moderate Shiite
cleric, has captured the hearts of the young with his efforts to widen
individual freedoms, free the press and reduce the clergy's interference in
the government, the judiciary and people's lives.

But Khatami's initiatives had been stymied by hard-liners who controlled the
outgoing Majlis.

With the new parliament convening in June, what remains to be seen is whether
the hard-liners will continue to use their key powers to block the
reformists. The Guardian Council, 12 clerics and lawyers, must approve all
bills passed by Parliament. And Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme
leader, has the final word. He heads the armed forces, judiciary and
state-run radio and television.

The Clinton administration called the early returns as a clear signal of a
growing trend toward greater freedom. ``They (Iranians) want policies of
openness and engagement with the rest of the world'' and greater freedom at
home, said State Department spokesman James P. Rubin.

U.S. relations with Iran were broken off after religious zealots took control
of a revolution that had overthrown the Shah, seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979
and held Americans captive until January 1981.

After Khatami was elected, the Clinton administration undertook a mostly
unsuccessful effort to engage Tehran in a dialogue.

Many in the conservative camp appeared ready to accept the people's verdict.

``It has now been confirmed that the Iranians are responsible for their own
affairs,'' the hard-line Tehran Times said. It said Iranians have made clear
that the government must ``immediately address their problems to make the
society healthy and wealthy.''

Such comments came as hard-liners were going down to defeat across the

Ali Zaddsar - an outspoken hard-liner who was involved in a failed
impeachment bid against Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani - lost his seat
in Jiroft in southern Iran.

Another conservative stalwart who went down in the voting was Ahmed
Rasouli-Nejad, an incumbent from Damavand in northern Iran. Rasouli-Nejad
played a role in the 1998 impeachment of Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri and
last year's bid to impeach Mohajerani. Both Nouri and Mohajerani support
Khatami's reforms.

Nouri, who is serving a five-year jail sentence on charges that included
religious dissent, was allowed to go home on leave Sunday. Leaves are granted
to Iranian prisoners for definite periods to visit family. Nouri's lasts
until Wednesday.

AP-NY-02-20-00 2250EST

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 03:04:58 EST
Subject: Death sentence of Iranian student upheld

Death sentence of Iranian student upheld

TEHRAN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Iran's supreme court has upheld the death sentence
of Akbar Mohammadi, a student arrested after pro-democracy demonstrations
rocked the country last July, newspapers reported on Monday.

The reformist Arya newspaper said that the 10-year prison sentence of Ahmad
Batebi, 22, another student convicted of endangering national security for
displaying a bloody shirt of a fellow student during the riots, had also been

Photo's of Batebi holding up the shirt were widely used in Western media.

Mohammadi, in his 20s, and Batebi were convicted by a lower court as
``Mohareb,'' or someone who makes war on Islam, a charge punishable by death
under Islamic sharia law.

Mohammadi was charged with using petrol bombs during six days of unrest which
broke out after police and armed vigilantes ran riot through student
dormitories after a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration.

The unrest in Tehran and several other cities was the worst in Iran since the
aftermath of the 1979 revolution. Around 1,500 students were arrested in
Tehran and the northwestern city of Tabriz many of whom remain in prison.

Executions in Iran are normally carried out by hanging.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 03:06:10 EST
Subject: U.S.: Iranians Seek Engagement

U.S.: Iranians Seek Engagement

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Clinton administration is welcoming preliminary results
of parliamentary elections in Iran as pointing toward a stronger hand for
reformers who seek more freedom and engagement with the world.

In a warm statement Sunday, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said
the balloting was a historic event, with the Iranian people showing they want
policies that give them more freedom.

Mindful of persistent tensions between moderates, represented by President
Mohammad Khatami, and conservative clerics, Rubin said ``we hope the clear
desires of the Iranian people can be translated into reality by their elected
representatives, and we hope this trend will be reflected in a new approach
in Iran's relationship with the outside world.''

U.S. relations with Iran were broken off when followers of the Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini took control in 1979 of a revolution that had overthrown
the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and a mob of zealots seized the American
Embassy and held Americans there captive until January 1991.

The election of Khatami in May 1997 was interpreted by U.S. policy-makers and
other analysts as a tilt toward moderation and an expression of
dissatisfaction with the strictures of the theocratic regime. The Clinton
administration undertook an effort to engage Tehran in a dialogue.

Administration officials stressed that while it would have no preconditions,
the agenda would have to include U.S. complaints that Iran promoted
terrorism, was seeking to develop a mighty arsenal of weapons of mass
destruction and was trying to sabotage Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

The absence of a response suggested reformers had been unable to outweigh the
conservative Ayatollah Ali Khamanei and his followers.

But as results of the balloting Friday for the 290-member assembly began to
become clear Sunday, the State Department found grounds for optimism.

``Although the reports of the results are not yet final, all indications are
that this election is an event of historic proportion,'' Rubin said.

``The Iranian people have demonstrated unmistakably that they want policies
of openness and engagement with the rest of the world, while making clear
their preference for international policies that allow them greater freedom
in Iran,'' he said.

AP-NY-02-21-00 0232EST

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 05:11:21 EST
Subject: Gulf Arabs hope Iran vote will aid rapprochement

Gulf Arabs hope Iran vote will aid rapprochement

By Diana Abdallah

DUBAI, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states, long suspicious of Iran's Islamic
government, hope a triumph of reformists in the country's parliamentary polls
will encourage rapprochement in the oil-rich region, officials and analysts
said on Monday.

But they warned that trust between Iran and its Arab neighbours across the
Gulf could only be restored once a long-standing dispute with the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) over three islands in the strategic waterway was resolved.

``We hope the election outcome will open up fresh dialogue with the GCC
countries on the question of the UAE islands,'' an Omani foreign ministry
official told Reuters.

``Iran has recently demonstrated a strong will to contribute to the region's
stability and we hope the outcome of the elections will further strengthen
that,'' the official said.

The high turnout in Friday's parliamentary polls in support of Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami's reform campaign has already eliminated key
conservative figures from the assembly.

Nationally, reformist candidates looked set to wrest parliament from the
conservatives and their allies which would boost Khatami's efforts to create
a civil society within Iran's Islamic system and help break Iran's
international isolation.


Relations between Gulf Arab states and their non-Arab neighbour have warmed
after years of mutual suspicion since Khatami launched an offensive to mend
his country's ties with the outside world.

But the dispute with the UAE over the islands, located near key shipping
lanes close to the mouth of the Gulf, continues to hamper further improvement
of relations. Analysts say there will always be a degree of suspicion between
radical Shi'ite Moslem Iran and conservative Sunni Moslem Gulf countries.

The UAE's al-Bayan newspaper said in an editorial on Monday: ``Gulf Arab
states, more than any other countries, need to take a careful and objective
look into the political system in Iran.

``It is hoped that the new Iranian developments would lead to stronger
relations between Iran and the Gulf Arab states and solve pending problems
peacefully and build relations of trust and cooperation for the benefit of
the Islamic people,'' it said.

The UAE's The Gulf Today said: ``Indeed hope is high for regional stability
when the new parliament dominated by moderates and reformists sits in

But it said relations hinged on solving the dispute with the UAE over the
Greater and Lesser Tuns and Abu Musa islands.

Mohamed al-Musfir, dean of humanities at Qatar University and former editor
of Arrayah newspaper said: ``The victory of the group led by Mohammad Khatami
will certainly facilitate closer relations with the GCC countries, especially
Saudi Arabia.''

Saudi Arabia, the biggest of the Gulf Arab states, and Iran have had tense
relations for much of the time since the 1979 Islamic revolution, but those
ties have warmed markedly since Khatami's 1997 election.

``In the new phase Saudi-Iranian relations will see a bigger development
especially after the serious Iranian effort to mend relations with Europe and
the United States,'' Abdel-Aziz Mehana, a Saudi expert on Iranian affairs,
told Reuters.

But he also said further warming of ties with the Gulf states depended on
solving the islands row.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 05:59:34 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Election Result and Respecting the Pen!

Election Result and Respecting the Pen!

As the early results of the parliamentary elections in Tehran have become
known to some degree, the role of the mass media in influencing the public
opinion has been highlighted from two different angles.

The manner in which our people cast their ballots last Friday is indicative
of the fact that they highly value candidates such as Ahmad Bourqani, the
former deputy minister of the culture and Islamic guidance. Mr.

Bourqani was tremendously instrumental in giving the press a new lease on
life at a time his audacity and bravado were mostly needed. Fairly speaking,
our press today owe their present proliferation and blooming to Mr. Bourqani.

Our people also voiced their long overdue demand for an active and free press
when they went to polls the other day. To be sure, in the run-up to this last
election, the press showed off its competency so overtly that it left lasting
impacts on the public opinion in a big way.

The numerous votes that went to Seyed Hadi Khamenei, the former managing
director of the banned daily, Jahan-e Islam (the World of Islam), must also
be attributed to the bravery shown during the life of the paper. Many
articles of this paper were considered to be in defiance of the unspoken red
lines which the paper encroached on.

The hearty reception of Alireza Nouri in the polls can only be construed in
the unswerving and courageous manner his presently incarcerated brother
Abdullah Nouri, the managing director of the banned Khordad daily, thought
and acted.

The commendable welcome the voters afforded Mrs. Jamileh Kadivar is paired up
with the dauntless press activities on her part as well as those of her
brother. Mr. Mohsen Kadivar is presently languishing in prison because of his
speeches and their wide coverage in the press.

The part of Mrs. Kadivar's husband, Mr. Ataollah Mohajerani, the minister of
culture and Islamic guidance in defending the freedom and independence of the
press is no less commendable. Mr. Mohajerani was once impeached for his
staunch support of freedom and independence for the press and has ever since
lived under the threat of another impeachment for the same reason.

On the other hand, no one can deny the negative role the Islamic Republic of
Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has so far played in leaving hardly any influence at
all on public opinion. This medium's lack of contribution to flesh out the
public zeal for their highly active participation in the elections came too
late and with ill preparation. The political faction supporting the IRIB
fared so poorly in this popular election that verged on being catastrophic.

This poor showing came to pass in spite of the fact that this incomparably
effectual medium has an all-out and widespread coverage everywhere in this
country and in the world for that matter.

In view of the past and present performances of the IRIB, it seems as though
a serious reappraisal of the role of this tremendously important medium must
come on the agenda after the dust in this election has settled. A
non-government affiliated establishment may restore the lost efficiency of
this medium and bless it with the effectuality of printed media.

Rumor has it that the reformists' shattering triumph in this last election
was highly indebted to the right faction's aversion to the pen!

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 06:04:52 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Angry Supporters

Angry Supporters

HAMSHAHRI * This municipality-affiliated daily reported that supporters of
Houshang Mohammad Sadeqi, a Majlis candidate from Kazeroun who did not secure
enough votes in elections, blocked the Shiraz-Bushehr road Saturday. They
were armed and set fire to a number of vehicles passing along the road.

Reformers Are on Top

ASR-E AZADEGAN * This reformist daily reported that the top vote-getters in
Tehran Constituency are Mohammad-Reza Khatami, Alireza Nouri, Behzad Nabavi,
Jamileh Kadivar, Seyed Hadi Khamenei, Majid Ansari, Ali Akbar Mousavi
Khoeiniha, Davoud Soleimani, Meisam Saeedi, Alireza Rajaie and Mohsen Armin.
Ali Akbar Rafsanjani ranks 16th-20th overall, he added, while in the western
and northern parts of Tehran Rafsanjani is in the 35th-40th place.

Speaker Should Not Be Cleric!

PAYAM-E AZADI * This pro-Khatami daily quoted Ahmad-Zeidabadi as saying that
Rafsanjani may prefer to withdraw his candidacy because of low number of
votes he has received. It seems that Majma-e Rowhaniyoun-e Mobarez (MRM)
supports Mehdi Karrubi for the Majlis top post while the right-wing supports
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for the speakership.

I think, however, that Behzad Nabavi is the person who could gain the support
of all political factions for the position, he noted, adding the job should
not go to a cleric.

Hizbollah Is Just Getting Started!

PAYAM-E AZADI * Masoud Dehnamaki, editor in chief of the hardline weekly
Jebheh, said the revolutionary forces need to rethink their positions. He
also urged Rafsanjani to do the same. If Rafsanjani enters the Majlis, he
would be the Speaker, he said, otherwise, Karrubi or Hassan Rowhani would
occupy the post. He added that the reformist would owe their victory to the
psychological warfare conducted by Saeed Hajjarian, Sobh-e Emrooz managing
director, against the conservatives.

Hizbollah's tough struggle has just begun.

Rafsanjani's Chances Don't Look Promising

MOSHAREKAT * This daily, which is affiliated to Islamic Iran Participation
Party (IIPP), quoted the former Mayor of Tehran Gholamhussein Karbaschi as
saying that Rafsanjani has received high number of votes in the southern
parts of Tehran, but not so in the northern part. Rafsanjani's fate would
probably be determined in the runoffs, he added.

We Were Not Completely Wrong

MOSHAREKAT * The spokesman of the Coalition of the Imam and Leadership's
Followers, Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, said their predictions regarding the
parliamentary elections have not come true in Tehran. We were proved right
for other cities however, he underlined.

Listen to People

PAYAM-E AZADI * The daily wrote in an article entitled "Boxes Dance" that on
Friday majority of people came to voting stations and shouted "Iran for All
Iranians." The people said that reforms should continue.

This was while the angry cleric was giving advice to Ataollah Mohajerani in
Friday Prayers. "Stop this! The nation has been tired of hearing advice like
this," the daily noted.

Yazdi was the Friday Prayer Leader last Friday.

No Such Thing Happened

ARYA * This pro-reform daily reported that Gholamhussein Karbaschi, the
former mayor of Tehran and also secretary of the Executives of Construction
Party (ECP), has denied the reports that Mohseni Ejeie, head of the Special
Court for the Clergy, Ali Razini, head of the Tehran Justice Department, and
Ruhollah Husseinian, head of the Islamic Revolution's Documents Center, had
participated in the wedding ceremony of his daughter.

Ejeie, Razini and Husseinian conducted a large campaign against Karbaschi
during his legal proceedings.

Sell-out Newspapers

JEBHEH * This hardline weekly quoted Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, head of the police
intelligence and security division, as saying in a letter to the Judiciary
chief that ideological dependence (Western way of thinking) of some of the
so-called reformist newspapers is to the extent that if the "White House
Public Relations Department" was to launch a daily here, quite similar
materials would probably come out.

He went on to ask: "Is this right that a person like [Karbaschi] who has been
convicted of massive embezzlement goes free after just one and a half years
in prison?"

Vote Fraud in Tehran

ARYA * An informed source at the Election Headquarters, has confirmed that
vote fraud to benefit a certain political figure took place in southern
Tehran polling booths, this daily said, adding that inspectors from the
Interior Ministry have been despatch to the area to investigate.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 06:06:51 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Sixth Majlis Will Influence Iran-U.S. Relations

Sixth Majlis Will Influence Iran-U.S. Relations

* Nouri Freed From Jail for Several Days


TEHRAN - Jailed reformist leader Abdullah Nouri was permitted to leave prison
for a short time.

Nouri, who is serving a five-year sentence in Evin Prison, told reporters at
his home that he hoped the results of Friday's elections could see him freed

"Our people are adamant in their wish for acceleration the reform process and
political development. Their massive turnout during the Sixth Majlis
Elections goes a long way to stress this fact," he said.

"The makeup of the next Majlis would definitely affect the relations between
Iran and the United States. The election results may and can influence
everything, even my own freedom from prison," he noted.

Nouri, who would not return to prison until next Wednesday, said:

"The manner in which people voted in Tehran and the rest of the country
reflects the fact that political development and the restoration of
legitimate freedoms are among the most important wishes of the people."

Nouri attributed the poor faring of the opposite faction in the election in
line with the same wishes. "All along, the public viewed the performances of
the conservatives in line with their efforts to impose more restrictions on
public freedom. Consequently, it is perfectly natural for the public not to
welcome these measures. Our people's manner of voting clearly reflects the
fact that they demand the restoration of these freedoms," he stressed.

As regards the presence of former opposition cleric Sheikh Ali Tehrani in his
prison cell, Nouri said he was very much displeased and said: "The gentleman
is trying hard to have some sort of communication with me but I do not want
to talk with him. Those who for years made propaganda speeches against our
government, the war, and our combatants on the Iraqi Radio can never be good

Nouri's unexpected prison leave was announced to him only yesterday.

Mohsen Kadivar, another outspoken cleric taken into jail last year for
spreading anti-Islamic propaganda, was also set free on a week-long prison
leave on Saturday.

Last night a large group of newspaper editors, journalists, domestic and
foreign reporters as well as Mohammad Abtahi, the presidential chief of
staff, Mahmoud Hojjati, the minister of roads and transportation,
Gholamhussein Bolandian, Mostafa Tajzadeh and Mohsen Kadivar visited Nouri
and held talks with him.

Nouri was barred from standing in last Friday's parliamentary elections
because of his jail sentence, which was seen as part of a widescale but
ultimately unsuccessful attempt by the conservatives to retain their hold on
Parliament, notably in clamping down on the reformist press.

Nouri, who used his trial as a platform to attack the conservatives, had been
tipped as speaker in a reformist-dominated Parliament.

Indonesian President Warns of Campaign to Undermine His Government

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has said he sees a
campaign to undermine his authority, citing daily rumors of an impending
Cabinet reshuffle, reports said yesterday.

Wahid told a gathering of some 200 Muslims in the East Java city of Surabaya
on Saturday night that the Cabinet reshuffle rumors were unfounded.

"That (the Cabinet reshuffle) is not true. It is just speculation. News every
day of this change and that change. Frankly speaking it is all just part of a
big program to destroy the president," the Daily Kompas quoted Wahid as

The rumors were designed "to undermine the president's authority by spreading
lies every day," he said.

In Jakarta yesterday, a rally of some 60,000 members of Muslim parties, known
as the axis force, who backed Wahid's election to the presidency in October,
made a point of saying they were not there to unseat him.


KFOR Launches Major Search for Weapons in Divided Kosovo Town

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, YUGOSLAVIA (AFP) - The Multinational Force in Kosovo
(KFOR) early yesterday launched a major control operation throughout the
divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, searching for weapons.

The northern Kosovo town was entirely blocked off by KFOR troops, including
U.S. troops which arrived to boost KFOR's presence.

KFOR spokesman Gordon Fotheringham said KFOR troops were carrying out
house-to-house searches for weapons.

"All of Mitrovica has been cordoned off," and the aim of the operation was
"to secure the environment and to find arms," Fotheringham added.

The situation has been tense in Mitrovica since inter-ethnic violence flared
up at the start of the month. The north of the town is majority Serb while
the south is majority ethnic Albanian.

The operation, which should last for three days, started at 7:00 a.m. (06:00
GMT), an hour after the end of the curfew imposed by KFOR two weeks ago, said

U.S. armored vehicles were pelted with stones by a group of some 100 Serbs,
who shouted "Serbia, Serbia" as KFOR troops searched an apartment block,
where they found one AK-47 assault rifle, one rifle, two M-70 machine guns
and 200 rounds of ammunition, said an officer who asked not to be named. No
arrests were made.

As some of the us vehicles drove to the south of the town they too were
pelted with stones by a group of some 300 Serbs.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 06:08:08 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Association to Regulate Bilateral Ties

Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Association to Regulate Bilateral Ties


TEHRAN -- The newly-established Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Association will
serve as a body which will regulate Tehran-Riyadh ties notwithstanding
fluctuations in political ties and will prioritize on the bonds of friendship
between the two nations.

Ahmad Pournejati, the head of the Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Association,
told IRNA yesterday that the group relies totally on personal and popular
motives and facilities.

He said founders of the association have different social tendencies and the
association will seek to be an effective group working to improve bilateral
ties given the wide-ranging communality between the Iranian and Saudi

The Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Association, which was set up about eight
months ago by a group of people interested in the expansion of
people-to-people relations between the two countries, stresses on informal
and social channels rather than the official level.

Pournejati said that wherever possible, the Iranian party will try its best
to show that it abides by the strategy of confidence-building.

He hoped that the Iranian side could win the confidence of the other party in
its efforts.

Asked to elaborate on the areas for the expansion of bilateral relations,
Pournejati said the association had set up scientific, educational, economic,
commercial, tourism, pilgrimage, cultural and social committees to pave the
way for growing ties between the two nations.

Major challenges, he said, arise from the lack of sufficient knowledge about
each other and one of the most important programs of the Iran-Saudi Arabia
Friendship Association has been to benefit from modern information
dissemination methods to inform the Iranian and Saudi nations of the things
they do not know.

Tehran-Riyadh relations, he said, are at a `desirable' level. He hoped that
these ties would further expand in line with the policies of the Islamic
Republic and of President Seyed Mohammad Khatami and his government to forge
better ties with other countries, particularly those in the Persian Gulf

He hoped that the formation of a similar friendship association in Saudi
Arabia would pave the way for the expansion of relations.

The association believes in the necessity for such associations, he said
adding that the group has been initiated with firm determination.

He hoped that Saudi brothers and sisters too will adopt similar moves.

Pournejati said given the immense potentials for bilateral cooperation and
the positive signals detected from political and social attitude of Saudi
officials and people, it is hoped that the ground will be ripe for the
formation of Iran-Saudi Arabia Friendship Associations.

He called on Iranian and Saudi officials to take the objectives of the
association seriously and respond positively to the group.

He invited all those interested in the group's objectives to actively
contribute to the promotion of these goals.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 09:35:04 EST
Subject: Iranian reformers lead early election returns

Iranian reformers lead early election returns

By Mehrdad Balali

TEHRAN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Iran's reformers took the lead on Monday in 28
races for Tehran's 30 seats in the new parliament, after a powerful showing
in other cities and across the country.

President Mohammad Khatami's allies have already won more than 100 seats in
the provinces in Friday's polls to the 290- member assembly, with
conservatives trailing with about 43.

More than 50 seats have gone to independents, many of whom are said by
pro-reform groups to be among their supporters, although their names do not
appear in factional lists. Many other races will go to run-offs.

Most of the conservatives elected to the next parliament, to convene in May,
are of moderate leanings, with many hardline incumbents bumped out of the
race by voters.

The elections were widely seen as a test of popular support for Khatami's
liberal reforms, which have in the past two years faced strong resistance
from hardline conservatives.

A solid pro-reform majority could boost Khatami's efforts to create a civil
society within Iran's Islamic system and to accelerate his policy of detente
with the West.

Reformist candidates swept to victory in the major urban centres, including
Mashhad, Iran's holiest city and long seen as a conservative stronghold.


Reformers were also poised for victory in Tehran, the main battleground
between Khatami's forces and hardliners. With about 15 percent of more than
three million votes counted in the capital, reformist candidates were leading
in 28 of 30 races.

The top 26 candidates each had more than the minimum 25 percent of votes
needed to enter parliament in the first round.

The main critics of the conservative establishment were at the top of the
list of potential winners.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, the leader of the biggest pro-reform alliance and the
president's brother, was in first place. His coalition campaigned for greater
openness and democracy in Iran.

Jamileh Kadivar, top woman vote-getter in last year's Tehran city council
race, was in second place, while Alireza Nouri, brother of jailed dissident
cleric Abdollah Nouri, was in fifth.

``Institutionalising political and social freedoms and establishing citizens'
rights in all areas...These are programmes we can pursue in the next
parliament,'' Behzad Nabavi, a reformist front-runner, told reporters.

Even many conservatives acknowledged the dominant popular mood for reforms.
``In effect people voted to pave the way for Mr Khatami to fulfil his
promises and slogans,'' Assadollah Badamchian, a leader of a rightist
faction, told Resalat daily.

Final results for Tehran were not expected for several days.

Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the top candidate backed by
conservatives, was clinging to 27th place, and may have to face a run-off.

This throws into doubt his attempt to return to active politics and threatens
what had been seen as a strong bid to be speaker of the assembly.

Election officials have come under pressure to release early results for
Tehran as soon as possible amid rumours of ballot rigging in some districts.

But Ebrahim Rezaei-Babadi, head of Tehran's election headquarters, denied any
irregularities: ``We are closely guarding the votes and will not allow even
one ballot to be replaced.''

09:30 02-21-00

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 09:38:36 EST
Subject: Russia hopes Iran vote will help openness

Russia hopes Iran vote will help openness

MOSCOW, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Russia welcomed the result of Iran's parliamentary
election on Monday and said it hoped the poll would strengthen the democratic
process in the Islamic Republic and create more openness.

Iran's reformers looked set for a big victory after the Friday election,
which was widely seen as a test of political support for President Mohammad
Khatami's liberalising steps.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it respected the will
of the Iranian people.

It also hoped the result would ``further the democratisation of Iranian
society and create a basis for free and independent development in conditions
of openness and the respect of human rights in a country with which we are

It hoped the vote would allow Iran to increase its authority in international
affairs, it added.

Russia's ties with Iran have generally been warm in recent years and Russia
is engaged in several ventures with Iran, including the building of a nuclear
power station.

The United States has criticised the project and fears Tehran may be trying
to acquire nuclear weapons.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 09:44:56 EST
Subject: Germany says would welcome reform win in Iran poll

Germany says would welcome reform win in Iran poll

BERLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Germany said on Monday it welcomed the prospect of
an election win by reformists in Iran and said that Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer was planning a trip to the capital Tehran.

``The result of the parliamentary elections is an important and encouraging
signal for the strengthening of democracy in Iran,'' foreign ministry
spokesman Andreas Michaelis said.

First preliminary returns from elections in the Islamic republic showed
reformers leading in 28 contests for Tehran's 30 parliamentary seats.

``We are engaged in concrete preparations for a visit,'' Michaelis said,
adding that the ministry would announce the date of the visit in coming days.

Several published reports have said the visit would take place at the
beginning of March.

The government is also expecting a visit by Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami, whose reform policies are expected to be boosted by the elections,
sometime early in 2000.

Elections officials said Mohammad Reza Khatami, the leader of the biggest
pro-reform coalition and brother of the president, was in first place.

Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the candidate backed by
conservatives, was in 27th place.

The release from jail late last year of German businessman Helmut Hofter, who
once faced execution for having illicit sex with a Moslem woman, has smoothed
relations between Germany and Iran.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:04:55 EST
Subject: NEWSMAKER-Mohammad Reza Khatami joins East and West

NEWSMAKER-Mohammad Reza Khatami joins East and West

By Jonathan Lyons

TEHRAN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Mohammad Reza Khatami, who has taken a commanding
lead in the race for one of Tehran's 30 seats in parliament, offered voters a
compelling mixture of East and West.

With 15 percent of the more than three million votes counted in the capital
on Friday, Khatami -- brother of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami -- was
leading with 266,000, more than 80,000 ahead of the runner-up.

Allied reformers were holding 28 of the top 30 places, completing a
victorious sweep of Iran's big urban centres and a strong showing in the
outlying provinces.

That could put Mohammad Reza Khatami, a western-trained kidney specialist
from a prominent Shi'ite Moslem clerical family, in a strong position to
compete for the parliamentary leadership.

The 40-year-old Khatami was first pulled into the limelight on the coattails
of his eldest brother. But he later carved out his own political identity,
one that appealed to voters in its own right.

After quitting politics in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution to
pursue his medical studies, Mohammad Reza joined a discussion group led by
his brother to explore the concept of Islamic democracy.


That group eventually formed the nucleus of Mohammad Khatami's sucessful 1997
presidential campaign, tearing many of its members away from their surgeries,
newspaper offices and religious studies.

Reza Khatami was named a deputy health minister but soon found politics
taking up more and more of his energies. He later resigned altogether to run
for parliament.

In late 1998, he and a circle of like-minded intellectuals founded the
Islamic Iran Participation Front to support the president's campaign to
create a civil society and enforce the rule of law.

The Front evolved into a virtual political party in time for last week's
parliamentary polls, compiling a slate of candidates, hammering out a
manifesto and holding campaign rallies around Iran. It also produced a daily

Mohammad Reza Khatami soon emerged as the Front's top draw at public
engagements. He also gave outspoken interviews to the domestic press which
were often seen as staking out positions that his brother the president
preferred to leave unsaid.

Born in the central desert town of Ardakan to a prominent religous family,
Mohammad Reza was the sixth of seven children.

His father Ayatollah Ruhollah Khatami was a well-known theologian who became
Friday prayers leader in the provincial capital Yazd after the revolution.

Ayatollah Khatami, say family members, instilled his children with strong
religious values, as well as an appreciation for both eastern and western
culture, philosophy and politics.

In the early days of the revolution, Mohammad Reza served on the Tehran
council of the Revolutionary Guards. He was later wounded at the front in the
war against Iraq.

He then turned his attention to medicine, completing his studies at Tehran
University before spending one year in the mid-1990s at London's Guy's

Mohammad Reza is married to Zahra Eshraqi, a grand-daughter of late
revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The couple have two
children, a son and a daughter.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:06:15 EST
Subject: France says big Iran turnout boosts reform drive

France says big Iran turnout boosts reform drive

PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The large turnout in Iran's parliamentary elections
made the lead taken by the reformists all the more significant, France's
foreign ministry said on Monday.

``It seems a large majority of voters has chosen to back the strategy of
President (Mohammad) Khatami,'' said foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne

``The results are all the more significant because there was a strong
turnout,'' she told reporters at a regular briefing.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine has said several times that he is
confident there is a desire for change in Iran, notably during the Iranian
president's visit to France in October, she added.

Early returns from Friday's election showed a big lead for the pre-reform
camp, including in the capital, Tehran, where the biggest pro-reform
coalition is led by Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of the president.

While final results will take several days to appear, the poll already points
firmly to the reformers taking control of a parliament previously dominated
by conservatives.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:07:44 EST
Subject: Iran election to help international links - Italy

Iran election to help international links - Italy

ROME, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The apparent victory for reformers in Iranian
parliamentary elections should help Tehran's relations with foreign
countries, Italy said on Monday.

``(Foreign Minister Lamberto) Dini has said he is certain that the results of
the election will contribute to a further improvement in dialogue between
Iran and the international community and, in particular, relations with the
European Union and Italy,'' the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Dini will visit Tehran at the beginning of March, the statement said.

Italy helped ease a standoff between Iran and the EU in 1998 when Dini
visited Tehran, followed shortly afterwards by then Prime Minister Romano

Last March Khatami came to Italy, the first Iranian leader to visit the West
since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Dini expressed satisfaction at the high turnout at the Iranian elections,
particularly of women and young people.

``This demonstrates the success of the policy begun by President Khatami two
years ago and of the process of opening up which is under way in the Islamic
Republic,'' Dini said.

Final results of Friday's Iranian election are not expected for several days,
but the trend shows reformist candidates sweeping to victory in most urban

The reformers appeared assured of winning control of parliament, which was
previously dominated by conservatives who had stymied Khatami's liberal

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:09:21 EST
Subject: Iran opens underground railway line in Tehran

Iran opens underground railway line in Tehran

TEHRAN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Iran on Monday launched the first city line of an
underground railway system in Tehran, designed to reduce traffic jams and air
pollution in the congested capital.

President Mohammad Khatami inaugurated the 10-km (six mile) line connecting
western Tehran to the southern part of the city of more than 10 million

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, whose country helped build
the subway system, also attended.

The subway project, designed in the 1970's, was delayed by the 1979 Islamic
revolution, the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and shortages of funds in recent years.

The first line of the metro system, a commuter service between Tehran and the
city of Karaj, 45 km (28 miles) west of the capital, was launched last year.

A $550 million agreement with three Chinese firms to supply machinery to
build the commuter network in and around Tehran is the largest construction
project in Iran. It is also among China's biggest overseas projects.

The Chinese firms are China North Industries, China National Technology
Import and Export Corp, and China International Trust and Investment Corp.

China's Changchun Rolling Stock Works supplied passenger cars.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:10:24 EST
Subject: ANALYSIS-Syria, Israel face choice of talks or war

ANALYSIS-Syria, Israel face choice of talks or war

By Jack Redden

BEIRUT, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Decision time is near: either Israeli-Syrian talks
resume soon or Lebanon heads for deepening violence and Middle East peace
faces an indefinite delay.

While diplomats based in both Damascus and Beirut remain optimistic that
quiet but continuous U.S. contacts will revive the negotiations that stalled
last month, they say there is only a limited time before the opportunity will

The deadline has been created by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak promising
to withdraw his troops from Lebanon by July. He has insisted that this will
be in agreement with Syria and Lebanon but, in the absence of peace talks, he
will be under intense domestic pressure to carry it out unilaterally.

Military experts say the Israelis almost certainly have a detailed withdrawal
plan, prepared last October and setting up a phased retreat that has already
thinned non-vital equipment.

If serious talks with Syria resume, the current attacks on Israeli soldiers
occupying south Lebanon would likely ease and Barak would feel the prospect
of a dignified exit from Lebanon was worth the cost of postponing his

If there are no talks, both sides could take actions likely to antagonise the
other -- Israel making clear it will reduce its vulnerability without
reaching a peace treaty and Syria giving Hizbollah guerrillas a green light
to step up attacks on Israeli forces.

``If Barak is talking seriously to the Syrians, he knows there wouldn't be
trouble in south Lebanon,'' said a senior diplomat. ``If he shows he is
leaving in July (without peace talks), the Syrians would feel they are under
pressure and would not resume negotiations.''

Violence could quickly spiral out of control, with Israel retaliating on
civilian targets as it did earlier this month for assaults on its soldiers
still in Lebanon. Hizbollah guerrillas could step up their response to
include Katyusha rocket attacks into Israel, drawing more Israeli reprisals.

Once Israel had completed a withdrawal under fire, Syria -- still seeking the
return of the Golan Heights -- would have little interest in ensuring a
peaceful border in Lebanon.

A pullout would leave a vacuum along Israel's border, which diplomats and
military experts believe Syria would prevent the Lebanese army from filling.
That would create instability that could include cross-border attacks,
drawing further Israeli retribution.


Meanwhile, prospects for a broad Middle East peace that seemed tantalisingly
close a few weeks ago would have faded into the indefinite future.

U.S. pressure for a settlement could be sidelined by the American election
next November, while Syria could revert to its approach under Barak's
predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, of waiting years for another, more amenable,
Israeli leader.

There is also the danger that Assad, 69 and long thought to be suffering
various ailments, could die and leave both the succession at home and peace
strategy abroad in limbo.

Continuing war would be disastrous for Lebanon, removing its chief hope of
regaining a role as a financial centre and of generating economic growth to
contain a mountain of public debt.

Given the alternatives, it is no wonder many remain hopeful that
Israeli-Syrian talks will resume in the next few weeks.

The talks are stalled over Syria's insistence that Israel agree negotiations
will end in the return of all the land Israel captured from Syria in 1967.
Israel wants first to discuss security arrangements and normalisation of

Although diplomats believe both Barak and Assad still want talks, they also
say Syria was genuinely incensed at Israel's reluctance to discuss borders.
The Israeli delegation to that commitee failed to carry any maps but lectured
the Syrians on legal points, one source said.

Syria will need stronger proof it will regain the Golan than the U.S.
assurances diplomats believe they received before the talks began in

The relative quiet in Lebanon since violence earlier this the month -- when
Israel bombed Lebanese power stations and guerrillas raised their toll of
dead Israeli soldiers to seven -- gives a breathing space to seek a
resumption of peace talks.

But the course of the war is unpredictable. Syria may set the parameters of
the struggle for guerrillas, but experts doubt that they have control at the
operational level.

Israel's decision to allow immediate attacks on civilian targets in reprisal
for attacks on soldiers has introduced a dangerous hair-trigger element.
Another guerrilla attack that kills Israeli soldiers, followed by Israeli
killing of Lebanese civilians, and those hopes for Israeli-Syrian peace could
quickly fade.

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:12:06 EST
Subject: Iran Inaugurates Tehran Subway

Iran Inaugurates Tehran Subway

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mohammad Khatami on Monday inaugurated Tehran's
first subway, describing it as an ``inevitable necessity'' for the
traffic-clogged metropolis of 11 million people.

Officials said they hoped the subway would help ease Tehran's excessive
pollution and gridlocks caused mainly by an estimated 2 million cars, most of
them more than 20 years old.

The 6-mile line, the first in the Persian Gulf, was built over a period of 13
years, according to metro officials. It cost about $383 million. The only
other cities in the region that have subways are Cairo, Egypt and Ankara,

Asqar Ibrahimi, the former head of Tehran Metro project, said 40 workers were
killed in work-related accidents during the course of the subway

The project was also beset by problems and delays. Several years ago, a main
street in downtown Tehran opened to swallow cars and people when a metro
tunnel being built underneath caved in.

The line inaugurated Monday connects central Tehran with the western suburb
of Sadeqieh and merges with a regular railway service to the town of Karaj,
18 miles west of Tehran. The line has the capacity to carry 40,000 people per
hour. An extension and three more lines are planned, covering 60 miles, but
no time frame has been set.

``Today, the metro has become an inevitable necessity for a very, very
difficult life in a city like Tehran. It pains me to see people suffering
like this,'' Khatami said in a speech after taking an inaugural ride from
Sadeqieh Square station to Imam Khomeini Square.

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also attended the
inauguration. China provided the tracks, equipment and technical help.

The line will operate initially for three hours and then for five hours
beginning March 21.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 20 Feb 2000 to 21 Feb 2000 - Special issue