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TEHRAN, May 16 (Reuters) - Iran may ``reconsider'' its ties with Argentina in a row over inquiries into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, an Iranian daily said on Saturday.
It said the director for American affairs in Iran's Foreign Ministry, Mohammad Reza Bakhtiari, accused the Israeli Embassy in Argentina of interfering in investigations into the bombing which killed 86 people.
``Bakhtiari gave a warning that...if Argentine officials continued with their charges against Iran, the Islamic Republic would reconsider relations with that country,'' the daily Tehran Times newspaper said. It did not elaborate.
Argentina suspects Iranian-backed Moslem militants of involvement in the bombing. Iran's Foreign Ministry described as ``baseless'' an accusation by Argentina's judiciary this month that an Iranian diplomat, Mohsen Rabbani, was linked to the bombing.
Argentina's Foreign Minister Guido di Tella said on Friday his government would reduce its already limited diplomatic mission in Tehran to a single envoy and had ordered the Iranian government to do the same in Buenos Aires.
``It seems the Argentinian judicial system is under the influence of Zionist elements trying to blame their domestic problems on Iran,'' state-run television quoted Bakhtiari as saying.
The Tehran Times said Argentina's charge d'affaires in Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Thursday to receive an official protest over the charge against Rabbani.
It quoted Bakhtiari as saying that Argentine government officials had repeated ``the same false accusations'' against Iran despite Iranian cooperation with the investigation.
TEHRAN, May 17 (Reuters) - Iran said it would scale back economic ties with Argentina after Buenos Aires decided to recall most of its diplomats in Tehran in a row over the bombing of a Jewish centre, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said.
``The Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to cut down its economic relations with Argentina,'' IRNA said late on Saturday, quoting Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi. The report did not give details of the planned move.
``(Iran) has decided to take this decision based on the antagonistic patterns of political propaganda machinery of the Zionist regime followed by some of the Argentine officials against the Islamic Republic of Iran,'' IRNA quoted Mohammadi saying.
Argentina said on Friday it would reduce its already limited diplomatic mission in Tehran to a single envoy and had ordered the Iranian government to do the same in Buenos Aires.
Argentina suspects Iranian-backed Moslem militants of involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in which 84 people were killed.
Earlier in May, Argentina's judiciary said an Iranian diplomat, Mohsen Rabbani, had been linked to the bombing. Iran's Foreign Ministry described the charges as ``baseless.''
Mohammadi said the Foreign Ministry had earlier warned Argentina's charge d'affaires of Iran's decision to ``review its policies'' towards Argentina.
The charge d'affaires was summoned to Iran's Foreign Ministry on Thursday when it ``strongly warned the Argentine government on recent biased statements made by some Argentine officials against the Islamic Republic of Iran,'' IRNA said. REUTERS
Sunday, May 17, 1998; 11:40 a.m. EDT
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Thousands of protesters in western Iran clashed with police during a demonstration against a hospital for AIDS patients in their province, the Iran Daily reported Sunday.
Some protesters were injured during Friday's clashes in Kermanshah province and windows of nearby buildings were broken, the paper reported.
The demonstrators believe the hospital proposed by local officials would shame the town and lead to an influx of AIDS victims, the paper said.
The Ministry of Health would not reveal the number of AIDS cases in Iran, saying it was confidential. But it is believed to be in the hundreds.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
TEHRAN, May 17 (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday that plans have been approved to issue an international tender for a 392 km (240 mile) pipeline to carry crude oil from Iran's Caspian Sea port of Neka to Tehran, the daily newspaper Iran News reported.
The paper, quoting officials from the National Iranian Oil Company, said the pipeline was intended for the transport of Caspian Sea crude to Tehran in exchange for Iranian crude to be shipped out of the Gulf to export markets in swap arrangements.
The pipeline project, estimated to cost $400 million, will have the capacity to transport 380,000 barrels per day, officials had said earlier.
Iran regularly says that it offers the most cost-effective route for the transport of Caspian and Central Asian oil and gas, but its efforts to position itself as the prime route have been blocked by the United States.
Washington has conceded that Iran would provide the most cost-effective transport route for Caspian oil but has said it opposes an Iranian option because of political differences with Tehran.
Iran's hopes of cashing in on the Caspian oil rush in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan hit a snag last month when Turkmenistan signed an agreement with the United States to fund a feasibility study for a $2.8 billion natural gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea, which would bypass Iran.
The United States has pushed for subsea export routes connecting the east of the sea to the west, thereby bypassing Russia to the north and Iran to the south.
``Despite the change in Turkmenistan's policy...the Islamic Republic will go ahead with the construction of the pipeline,'' Iran News said.
Construction is expected to begin by March next year, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, a senior adviser to Iran's oil ministry, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, said on Sunday Iran was eager to construct a pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to the Iranian city of Tabriz, the daily newspaper Farda said.
``Iran is against the construction of a pipeline on the Caspian seabed,'' Ardebili was quoted as saying, noting that Iran was ``a natural bridge'' for the transfer of Caspian Sea oil to Gulf ports and beyond to world markets.
TEHRAN, May 17 (Reuters) - An official British trade mission, the first to visit Iran in two years, discussed ways to get involved in the next round of Iran's oil and gas buy-back projects, the head of the delegation said on Sunday.
``The meetings will be a very good building block for the future,'' said Jennifer Wright of the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers' Association.
The week-long mission comes about one month before Iran is expected to annoucne the next round of oil and gas buy-back projects.
The delegation met on Sunday with officials from Iran's oil and gas industry and its Chamber of Commerce and will engage in private meetings for most of the rest of the trip, Wright told Reuters.
``There is a lot of potential in Iran, particularly in the oil and gas sector on these buy-back projects,'' Britain's commercial attache Gareth Lungley said.
Iran has said it would soon set a date to offer 20 oil and gas buy-back projects. Such projects would involve firms financing projects for repayment in oil and gas production.
Members of the mission, which includes manufacturers of electrical switchgear, cables and equipment for the oil, gas, petrochemical and power sectors, would compete for sub-contracts, Lungley said.
Three investment banks were among the 13 companies represented, Lungley said.
The banks, HSBC Investment Bank plc, Paribas London and ANZ Grindlays, are expected to explore possibilities of setting up branches in Iran's free trade zones, newspaper reports said.
Iran set up three free trade zones on the Gulf islands of Kish and Qeshm and in the southeastern port of Chahbahar in 1989. It recently announced new laws allowing foreign banks to set up branches in the free trade zones.
Wright said the British delegation was bullish on business prospects with Iran, noting that despite formidable obstacles, ``we realise it is certainly worth being in Iran.''
``Iran is a high-risk market but there are also high returns,'' Lungley said.
Iran is seeking foreign investment in its oil and gas industry and has seen a stream of European trade delegations visit the country this year in search of business opportunities.
Despite political differences between Britain and Iran, annual trade between the two countries has remained static at an average of $650 million, Lungley said.
British Petroleum Co Plc said last week it was opening a representative office in Tehran but would wait for normalised international relations with Iran before resuming business with the Islamic republic.
Since last year, Washington has been considering whether a $2 billion deal struck by France's Total, Russia's Gazprom and Malaysia's Petronas to develop a major Iranian gas field violates U.S. law.
Some 30 British firms attended an international oil and gas fair in Tehran last month at which Britain's Department of Trade and Industry was officially represented for the first time in 20 years.
By Robert Burns Associated Press Writer Sunday, May 17, 1998; 12:34 p.m. EDT
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) -- In an encouraging sign for U.S. efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told President Clinton on Sunday he has taken new steps to clamp down on exports of missile technology.
Clinton said he was hopeful the new measure would work, and said India's nuclear test explosions last week had ``changed the whole direction'' of the nuclear debate.
After meeting privately with Yeltsin in his Birmingham hotel, Clinton told reporters they had discussed Russian technology sales to Iran ``in some significant detail and I think reached some understandings which will bear fruit.''
Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, said later that Yeltsin said he had just implemented an executive order designed to limit exports of technology that can be used for ballistic missiles. Moscow also is creating a new government entity to improve control over high-tech exports, including those to Iran, Berger said in an interview.
``It is clear that President Yeltsin wants to stop this flow of technology,'' said Berger, who discussed the matter with Russian officials last week.
The Russians want Clinton to make an official visit to Moscow in July, but Clinton said he would not commit to a visit until Russia ratifies the START II nuclear arms treaty. Clinton said he was confident the treaty would be ratified and that he and Yeltsin could negotiate a follow-on treaty ``in fairly short order.''
``When he comes to visit us in July, I expect that we will sit down and talk for 15 hours,'' Yeltsin told reporters.
The Clinton administration has pressed Moscow for several years -- mostly without success -- to curb its cooperation with Iran on nuclear matters. Washington failed, for example, to halt Russian participation in a nuclear reactor project in Iran.
The U.S. Congress has discussed possible sanctions aimed at Russian companies doing business with Iran on ballistic missiles. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said last week that such sanctions would undercut the Yeltsin government's efforts to push for ratification of the START II nuclear arms treaty, which would reduce U.S. and Russian weapons by about half.
In his remarks to U.S. reporters, Clinton said Yeltsin reassured him the parliament, or Duma, would ratify START II before it recesses for the summer in June.
Yeltsin has given Clinton such assurances several times in the past, but the Duma has refused to act on the treaty that was negotiated during President Bush's administration and signed by Bush and Yeltsin in January 1993. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in 1996, but many Russians contend the agreement favors the United States and would weaken Russia's national defense.
Clinton also said India's nuclear testing last week had given Russia greater motivation to ratify START II and quickly negotiate a follow-on treaty.
``(Yeltsin) will, obviously, not only push for its ratification, but argue that it ought to be considered in an even more timely fashion now because of the Indian test,'' Clinton said.
``I think all of us, because of the India nuclear tests, feel an even greater sense of urgency to change the debate again over nuclear issues toward less, not more; to change the whole direction,'' Clinton said.
Clinton said he found Yeltsin, who has suffered numerous health problems in recent years, to be in ``as good a health and good a spirits as I've seen him in quite a long time.''
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
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Avay-e-Delha dar Ghorbat, issues 3, 7, 17, and Movahed News and Views Issue 1.