Date: Mar 20, 1999 [ 10: 54: 56]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 19 Mar 1999 to 20 Mar 1999 - Special issue

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 19 Mar 1999 to 20 Mar 1999 - Special issue
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There are 20 messages totalling 1236 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. 2 Groups Appeal U.S. Designation as Terror Organiz
2. Government Breaks Up Visa Ring
3. Iranian Says Women Making Gains
4. Russia Offers Nuke Work Reduction
5. Venezuela and Iran agreed Thursday to ...
6. 1992 Israeli Embassy Bombing Marked
7. Senate OKs Aid for Hog Farmers
8. Over 82,000 Iranian Pilgrims Now in S. Arabia
9. Egyptian-Iranian Talks on Joint Projects
10. Death-Knell for U.S.-Sponsored Ceyhan Pipeline
11. Allah My Children
12. Tehran Stock Exchange Annual Trade up by 57.13 %
13. Senate Urges Clinton To OK Farm Sales To Iran
14. Iran Conducts Cloud Seeding
15. Opinion Poll Conducted on President Khatami's Rome
16. Iran's Khatami Cancels Visit to Saudi -Newspaper
17. FM Spokesman Calls for Talks to Solve Iran-UAE Dis
18. Iran Criticizes Arabs Over Disputed Gulf Islands
19. US BANS IRAN SOCCER STARS FROM VISIT
20. Iranian Pilgrims Plan Anti-U.S. Rally at Haj

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:19:54 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: 2 Groups Appeal U.S. Designation as Terror Organiz

2 Groups Appeal U.S. Designation as Terror Organizations
========================================================


By Bill Miller and Thomas W. Lippman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 14, 1999; Page A02

Two groups designated by the Clinton administration as foreign
terrorist organizations have turned to the American courts for
vindication, waging the most significant challenge yet to a 1996
antiterrorism law and the way the State Department designates
U.S. enemies.
The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran and Sri Lanka's
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have hired prominent lawyers to
take their cases to the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of
Appeals. They allege they were designated as terrorists by
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright in October 1997 based
on a mostly secret record and with no advance notice or
opportunity to respond.

The cases attack the constitutionality of the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act, which was passed to keep terrorist
organizations from gaining a foothold in the United States. The
two organizations are among 30 on the State Department's list, a
designation that freezes the groups' assets in the United
States, makes it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison
for Americans who provide them money and denies U.S. visas to
group members.

The act was signed with much fanfare by President Clinton in
April 1996 amid swelling concerns about the threat of terrorist
bombings, hijackings, assassinations and biological warfare. It
provided for quicker deportations of suspected alien terrorists,
tougher penalties for terrorist crimes, increased enforcement by
the FBI and the measure to keep organizations labeled as
terrorist from raising money within the United States. From the
start, civil libertarians complained that the law was extreme
and prone to abuse--assertions being made by lawyers for the
Mojahedin and Tamil Tigers, the only organizations fighting
their designations in the courts.

The Mojahedin, formed in Iran in the 1960s, oppose Iran's
clergy-based government and draw support from Iraq, where they
maintain a military base. The Tamil Tigers, formed in 1976, are
locked in a secessionist war against the government in Sri
Lanka, which has a Sinhalese majority that the Tamils say
discriminates against them.

Both groups insisted in court that they do not engage in
terrorism, only acts of war with specific targets. The State
Department maintains that both organizations have carried out
assassinations, bombings and other actions that could threaten
Americans at home and abroad.

Under the law, those designated as terrorist organizations have
one recourse: They can ask the appellate court to review the
administrative record to determine if the finding was unjust.
Lawyers for the organizations said the groups have a
constitutional right to due process, meaning a chance to be
heard before the designations are made.

"We wanted to have a hearing where we would present our views,"
Jacob A. Stein, an attorney for the Mojahedin, said during a
hearing on both cases earlier this month. "We hoped that after
being given the views, the secretary would not make that
designation. We were deprived of that right."

Former attorney general Ramsey Clark, representing the Tamil
Tigers, said in court papers that the antiterrorism law is the
product of hysteria, arguing that "the demagogic cry of
terrorism" leads to repressive actions. He said labeling groups
as terrorists is like the internment of Japanese Americans
during World War II.

Stein and Clark contended that their groups were put on the list
by Albright for political reasons, in what they called an abuse
of the law. The Mojahedin claimed they were branded terrorists
by Albright as a friendly overture to Iran. The Tamil Tigers
claimed the United States favors the Sri Lankan government.

A similar argument was raised by a group of Palestinian
activists who went to the Supreme Court to protest the U.S.
government's efforts to deport them. The eight activists,
associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine, contended that they were being removed for political
views. The Supreme Court ruled last month that illegal aliens
have no constitutional right to assert selective enforcement as
a defense against deportation. That ruling could cause problems
for the Mojahedin and Tamil Tigers.

Justice Department lawyers defended the antiterrorism law,
saying it was passed in a climate of rising concerns fueled by
incidents such as the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103, the World
Trade Center bombing and the poison-gassing of the Tokyo subway
system. They said Congress sought to prohibit terrorist
fund-raising in the United States to make it clear that the
country would not be a "staging ground" for terrorist
activities.

Because the organizations are foreign, they have no
constitutional rights, the Justice Department argued. The
government's lawyers said the State Department appropriately
relied upon classified information, that much of it cannot be
shared with the groups for security reasons and that Congress is
not even required to give the organizations the opportunity for
appellate review.

The three judges who heard the appeal--A. Raymond Randolph,
Stephen F. Williams and James L. Buckley--repeatedly challenged
Stein and Clark during the oral arguments, particularly on their
claims of constitutional violations. Williams said the United
States took similar measures against Iraq after the siege of
Kuwait and remarked, "As a constitutional class, I'm just trying
to figure out how this organization stands on a stronger basis
than Iraq."

Stein and Clark argued that the law affects the constitutional
rights of Americans who want to contribute to the organizations.
But the judges said restrictions can be placed on Americans
because of foreign policy concerns.
However, the judges also raised questions about a court's
effectiveness in reviewing the State Department's decisions.
Because foreign policy enters into the choices about whom to
designate, and because the administrative record is built on
evidence selected only by the State Department, the judges said
the appellate review provided by the law appears limited.

Justice Department lawyers said the Tamil Tigers were
responsible for the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv
Gandhi in 1991, the slaying of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe
Premadasa in 1993 and a 1996 explosion at the headquarters of
the Central Bank of Sri Lanka that killed 100 people. The group
has many supporters in the United States, including some who
filed a lawsuit in California claiming a right to keep providing
donations.

The Mojahedin have been even more aggressive in waging a
struggle for acceptance in Washington, with mixed results. They
acquired some support in Congress, but were rebuffed by the
White House and State Department.

A State Department report in 1994 portrayed the group as a
stooge of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, tainted by a long
history of terrorism. The report said the Mojahedin
"participated physically" in holding hostages at the U.S.
Embassy in Tehran and are "known to have assassinated" at least
five Americans in Iran while the shah was in power in the 1970s.

Damning as it was, however, that report stirred anger in
Congress because the State Department did not interview anyone
from the group in preparing it. Senior members of the House
International Relations Committee, including Reps. Gary L.
Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Robert G. Torricelli
(D-N.J.), who is now a senator, all issued statements
criticizing the Statnator, all issued statements
criticizing the Statnator, all issued statements
criticizing the State Department. They said Congress did not
necessarily endorse the Mojahedin, but wanted enough information
to decide whether to do so.


© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:20:04 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Government Breaks Up Visa Ring

Government Breaks Up Visa Ring
==============================


By Linda Deutsch
AP Special Correspondent
Wednesday, March 17, 1999; 5:23 a.m. EST

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Twenty-nine people have been arrested by
authorities who say they have broken up a forgery ring that
helped Iranians and others acquire visas and asylum in the
United States.

The group allegedly provided new identities to clients, some of
whom included members of the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian
opposition group based in Iraq, U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas
said. The group is one of 30 designated as terrorist
organizations by the State Department.

The People's Mojahedin Organization, a member of the coalition
National Council of Resistance of Iran, denied any involvement
in the forgery ring.

``The Mojahedin have always functioned within the law of the
country in which they have activity and are not, and have never
been engaged in illegal deeds,'' the group said in a statement.

The alleged ringleader, Bahram Tabatabai, was one of those
arrested. None have been charged with involvement in terrorism,
though all remained in custody late Tuesday.

Tabatabai allegedly represented more than 300 people during
asylum interviews before the Immigration and Naturalization
Service. Authorities would not say how many successfully gained
entry into the country.

Sixteen people were indicted for their involvement in the ring,
although only 15 were arrested -- one was out of the country,
said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
Another 14 were arrested for being in the country illegally and
will be deported.

David Zebley, an agent for the State Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security, said Tabatabai pretended to be a Farsi
translator at the hearings, enabling him to change answers given
by clients to the INS officers.

Zebley said Tabatabai used a network of fake document suppliers.
The sources allegedly provided documents including birth
certificates, titles for automobiles, houses, land and
businesses, letters from guarantors, passports, employment
records, bank records and university diplomas.

In some cases, Tabatabai created new identities for clients who
had criminal records or ties to subversive organizations, agents
said. When asylum was requested, they allegedly invented stories
of political oppression in their homeland, usually Iran.

Clients, the majority of them Iranians, allegedly were charged a
minimum of $2,000 for Tabatabai's services. Those who got visas
had to pay between $8,000 and $12,000, Zebley said.


© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:20:36 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iranian Says Women Making Gains

Iranian Says Women Making Gains
===============================


Thursday, March 18, 1999; 1:30 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's adviser
on women's affairs sought today to depict a rising tide of
moderation in the country, particularly in the way women are
treated.

Zahra Shojaie, who is in the United States to attend U.N.
sessions, said ``women are by no means a passive part of
society'' in the Islamic republic.

Describing this period as a post-revolutionary era, she said at
a conference sponsored by Insight, a Middle East magazine, that
``we are aware of certain obstacles.''

But she said women are making strides, accounting for 31 percent
of university students. There are 70 magazines and other
publications for women, she said, and ``there is no censorship
in effect.''

``Diversity of opinion is a driving force'' in Iran, she said.

The State Department, in its annual report to Congress on human
rights, said candidates for elective office in Iran have been
threatened for their political beliefs and several prominent
dissidents have been killed.

On women, the report said they had access to primary and
advanced education, but social and legal constraints tend to
inhibit their professional opportunities, women are harassed
over the way they are dressed and the testimony of a woman is
worth only half of a man's in court.

The State Department, on the other hand, has frequently found
Khatami to be a force for moderation, and Sen. Arlen Specter,
R-Pa., said at the session that he would like to see more
frequent exchanges of visits between the two countries.



© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:20:26 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Russia Offers Nuke Work Reduction

Russia Offers Nuke Work Reduction
=================================


Thursday, March 18, 1999; 5:33 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration declined Thursday
to make a deal with Russia to lift sanctions against leading
nuclear research institutes until they stopped working with
Iran.

Responding to an offer by Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov,
a State Department spokesman said, ``We would like to see ac
tion
taken to remedy the problem before the penalties can be
reconsidered.''

Adamov, who made the offer Wednesday, said he would take it up
with U.S. officials on a trip to Washington. If the sanctions
were lifted the firms would stop their cooperation with Iran, he
said.

In January, the United States barred 10 Russian research centers
from any work here on the grounds they were providing Iran with
technology that could help Iran develop weapons of mass
destruction.

Containing Iran's nuclear program is a key foreign policy
objection of the administration.

James Foley, the deputy spokesman at the State Department, said
Thursday, ``We welcome statements by Minister Adamov that Russia
is willing to curtail illicit cooperation with Iran's nuclear
program.''

``This is a potentially positive statement on his part,'' Foley
said.

The spokesman went on to underscore Russia was still cooperating
with Iran and that was of serious concern to the administration.

The issue is due to be taken up next week at meetings here of a
joint commission headed by Vice President Al Gore and Russian
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.


© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:20:42 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Venezuela and Iran agreed Thursday to ...

Venezuela and Iran agreed Thursday to swap some oil customers in
Europe and the Americas
================================================================


Latin American Briefs
By The Associated Press
Thursday, March 18, 1999; 6:34 p.m. EST

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela and Iran agreed Thursday to
swap some oil customers in Europe and the Americas, hoping to
cut transportation costs and boost profits for both countries.
Under the deal, announced by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharrazi, Iran will distribute oil to some of Venezuela's
customers in Europe. In return, Venezuela will supply some of
Iran's customers in the Americas.

Officials from the two countries are to meet March 21 in London
to work out details of the agreement, Venezuelan Energy and
Mines Minister Ali Rodriquez said.

Prices for Venezuelan oil hit a 12-year low in recent months,
helping provoke economic troubles that include a $9 billion
fiscal deficit.

Kharrazi, in Venezuela for a three-day visit, and Venezuelan
Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel also signed an accord to
strengthen Iranian-Venezuelan relations. On Wednesday, Kharrazi
said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accepted an invitation
to visit Iran.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:20:14 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: 1992 Israeli Embassy Bombing Marked

1992 Israeli Embassy Bombing Marked
===================================


Wednesday, March 17, 1999; 5:11 p.m. EST

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Israel's ambassador reiterated
calls for justice Wednesday in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli
embassy in Buenos Aires.

Hundreds of people joined Ambassador Yitzak Aviran in a solemn
ceremony on the seventh anniversary of the attack, gathering on
an empty lot where the embassy once stood. Bells tolled and the
names of the 29 victims were read.

``I am ashamed that there hasn't been more progress,'' Aviran
told family and friends of the victims.

He reasserted Israel's accusation that Islamic fundamentalists
backed by Iran were responsible for the attack, which also
injured 250 people.

Israel believes Iran was behind both the 1992 attack and a 1994
bombing of a Jewish cultural center in the Argentine capital
that killed 95 people. Tehran has denied involvement.

Addressing the crowd Wednesday, Aviran told them not to give up
hope.

``For you, seven long years have passed, seven years of
emptiness and anguish. We have called out for justice, to find
those responsible,'' he said.

During the half-hour ceremony, participants recited Jewish
prayers and laid wreaths. Flags were lowered to half-staff.

Seeking to blunt criticism, Argentina's interior minister
insisted earlier Wednesday that investigators were still hard at
work.

Carlos Corach said Argentina still has ``an outstanding
obligation to shed light on this act and find the authors, the
accomplices and those who covered up'' this crime.

An Iranian woman was detained last December in connection with
the embassy bombing probe. But she was later released for lack
of evidence.


© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:20:56 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Senate OKs Aid for Hog Farmers

Senate OKs Aid for Hog Farmers
==============================


By Philip Brasher
Associated Press Writer
Friday, March 19, 1999; 6:24 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate approved giving hog farmers an
extra $250 million in assistance to help them weather a sharp
downturn in pork prices.

The money was added late last night to a $1.9 billion emergency
spending bill that includes aid for Jordan and
hurricane-battered Central America. The House is to take up its
version of the legislation next week. President Clinton has
threatened to veto both versions in a dispute with Congress over
state tobacco settlements.

The Agriculture Department already is distributing $50 million
to hog farmers on its own at a rate of $5 per pig. The
department said Friday the payments average $1,100 for each of
45,293 farms.

Producers said the payments won't go far enough and appealed to
Congress for as much as $500 million more.

``This is a crisis and it demands action,'' Sen. John Ashcroft,
R-Mo., said Friday. ``The immediate, short-term economic
assistance approved by the Senate can help producers survive the
current crisis.''

Hogs are selling for about 25 cents a pound, up from a low at
the end of 1998 of 8 cents but well below the break-even point
of almost 40 cents.

It would be up to the Agriculture Department to decide how to
distribute the $250 million. The money could go for direct
payments as well as loans or purchases of surplus pork. The
National Pork Producers Council wanted $25 for every hog sold
after the price collapse, up to a limit of $50,000 per farmer.

``This is a very significant step,'' said Steve Cohen, a
spokesman for the producers group. ``If this goes through, we
can bring some financial relief to some of these farmers who are
really teetering on the edge.''

While the White House opposes the overall bill, the Agriculture
Department ``would certainly be open to moves by Congress to be
of additional help to hog farmers,'' spokesman Andy Solomon
said.

The spending bill also would authorize $1 billion in emergency
farm loans and urges the Clinton administration to approve the
sale of $500 million in grain and sugar to Iran. Clinton's
national security advisers are weighing whether to grant a
license for the shipment.

``The only right decision here is to let that grain be sold to
Iran,'' said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. ``It's absurd to have
prohibitions on grain shipments, not just here but anywhere else
as well.''

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said Friday the Senate's
endorsement of the Iran sale ``will be noted.''

Iran is asking for 2 million metric tons of wheat; 300,000 tons
of rice; 200,000 tons of soybean meal; 400,000 tons of corn;
250,00 tons of soy oil; and 400,000 tons of raw and white sugar.


© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:21:02 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Over 82,000 Iranian Pilgrims Now in S. Arabia

Over 82,000 Iranian Pilgrims Now in S. Arabia
=============================================

thr 010
s. arabia-iran-pilgrims
over 82,000 iranian pilgrims now in s. arabia
holy mecca, march 20, irna -- more than 80,000 iranian hajj pilgrims
have arrived in saudi arabia until 03:00 hours saturday, according to
mecca-based hajj headquarters on saturday.
the report put the exact number of iranian pilgrims at 82,204, the
majority of which have been transported to mecca.
the trafer of iranian pilgrims to mecca would be completed on
sunday, march 21.
bg/rr
end
::irna 20/03/99 11:36

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:21:10 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Egyptian-Iranian Talks on Joint Projects

Egyptian-Iranian Talks on Joint Projects
========================================


thr 020
egypt-iran-economy
egyptian-iranian talks on joint projects
athens, march 19, irna --- an iranian delegation is currently holding
talks in cairo to create joint projects in the field of textiles and
yarns, egyptian newspaper ''al-shaab'' friday reported.
the iranian delegation led by deputy minister of industries, akbar
torkani, includes officials from the ministries of industry,
free trade zone (ftz), iranian banking federation, investment
organisation and from a textile and yarn factory.
according to the head of the iranian interests section in egypt,
akbar qasemi, the iranian delegation is visiting cairo at the
invitation of the egyptian ministry of industry.
qasemi described the talks as ''successfull'' and said the two
sides are expected to reach a number of agreements to expand and
strengthen cooperation in the field of textile and yarns which would
be signed in due time.
it is the second visit of an iranain trade and economic delegation
to egypt within two weeks. a delegation from iran's agricultural and
industry ministries and sugar industry had paid a visit to cairo two
weeks ago for talks with their egyptian counterparts.
nk/hm
end
::irna 19/03/99 14:01

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:21:32 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Death-Knell for U.S.-Sponsored Ceyhan Pipeline

Death-Knell for U.S.-Sponsored Ceyhan Pipeline
==============================================

thr 032
caspian-ceyhan pipeline
death-knell for u.s.-sponsored ceyhan pipeline
london, march 19, irna - the chances of building a new major east-
west oil pipeline from the caspian sea look more remote following the
azerbaijan international operating sounding the death-knell for the
u.s.-sponsored baku-ceyhan proposal.
president of the bp amoco-led consortium group, david woodward,
was reported telling a press conference in the azeri capital this week
that there was no need for the plan to transport caspian oil to the
turkish mediterranean port.
he said that exports could not replay the construction costhat
exports could not replay the construction costhat exports could not
replay the construction costs,
estimated at over dlrs 4 billion. the three flagship fields, azeri,
chirag and guneshli being developed by aioc contain only about three
billion barrels of oil, half of what was needed.
the consortium has continually delayed announcing its preferred
export route. but according to aberdeen-based petrodata offshore
market intelligence, there is now much speculation the "decision will
be deferred, or indeed that no pipeline will be built."
aioc's position is in direct conflict with that of the u.s., which
has campaigned strongly for the route through turkey in an attempt to
avoid iran as the most obvious and viable route for caspian oil
exports via the persian gulf.
hc/hm
end
::irna 19/03/99 18:41

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:21:58 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Allah My Children

Allah My Children
=================


Thank Heaven and Iran for a solid kids film
By Andy Klein


Teheran tots take over in Majidi's film.


Children of Heaven
Directed by Majid Majidi. With Mir Farrokh Hashemian, Bahareh
Seddiqi and Mohammad Amir Naji. Rated PG.


The last decade has been an extraordinary period for Iranian
cinema. Restricted by minuscule budgets, filmmakers have been
forced to fall back on exactly those qualities that Hollywood
thinks it can afford to ignore: character insight, social
analysis and unadorned storytelling. The success of Abbas
Kiarostami, Iran's best-known moviemaker, at international film
festivals has increased interest in his work and that of his
countrymen. His A Taste of Cherry turned up on a number of 1998
top ten lists, and Kiarostami's protégé Jafar Panahi enjoyed
widespread acclaim for his 1995 The White Balloon. Additionally,
films by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (1993's The Actor, 1992's Once upon a
The Actor, 1992's Once upon a
Time, Cinema) and Dariush Mehrjui (1993's Sara and 1990's
Hamoon) have been well received critically.

Such is the explosion of quality filmmaking in Iran that at last
year's Singapore Film Festival -- which I attended, sitting on
the critic's jury to choose the best Asian film -- the
stylistically more familiar films of Hong Kong, Korea, Japan,
Taiwan and China were all outshone by the Iranian entries.
The best of those, Majid Majidi's Children of Heaven (1997), was
picked up for United States distribution by Miramax. Of the
Iranian movies that have shown here in recent years, it is The
White Balloon that Majidi's film most resembles; these two, as
well as Panahi's most recent film, The Mirror (1997), center on
the world of children, perhaps the most popular subject in
recent Iranian cinema. Makhmalbaf provides some insight into the
matter: "Since the 1979 revolution, the population of Iran has
more than doubled....So half our society is made up of children.
Naturally they make up a large portion of our film-going public,
and when they go to the movies, they expect to see themselves,"
he explains in the press kit for Children of Heaven. "When you
make films about children, you don't have to deal as much with
censorship issues [dress code, for example] ... and political
issues. Finally, children are the visions of our dreams. They
are the embodiment of life more than anything else."

The plot of Majidi's film is simplicity itself. Ten-year-old Ali
Mandegar (Mir Farrokh Hashemian) lives in poverty with his
parents and his little sister, Zahra (Bahareh Seddiqi). One day
he picks up Zahra's shoes at the cobbler, but he loses them on
the way home. Given the family's financial straits, he is sure
his father (Mohammad Amir Naji) will beat him if he finds out.
So Ali convinces his sister that they should share his sneakers
until the family's cash flow improves.

Zahra wears the sneakers to school each day, then runs to
rendezvous with Ali and gives him the shoes so he can run to his
school, which starts after her classes end. Their scheme works
none too well: Despite his excellent grades, Ali is constantly
late for class and finds himself in trouble with school
authorities.

To make things worse, the sneakers are taking a beating. So when
Ali learns that third prize in an upcoming race is a new pair of
sneakers, he decides to enter and, rather than win, to come in
third.

Children of Heaven owes a lot to its antecedents, both Iranian
and European (Vittorio De Sica's 1949 The Bicycle Thief).
(Actually, its story, but not its style, is somewhat reminiscent
of Michael Landon's autobiographical 1976 TV movie, The
Loneliest Runner, presumably a coincidence.) It skews toward the
light tone of The White Balloon, which makes it easy to
understand why Children of Heaven has been such a hit with young
children.

At the same time, Majidi is true to the potential for tragic
seriousness in a child's perceptions of life, and his portrait
of the family is far from pleasant. Mom is a chronic invalid,
and Dad's dreams seem to far exceed his skills and intelligence.
It's clear that Ali and Zahra are the family's best hopes.

Because Majidi made his film with Iranian audiences in mind,
there are some cultural aspects that might not be clear to
moviegoers here. For example, he took pains to cast an actor of
Turkish origin as the father; that way, the character's accent
would tip off viewers that he is a member of Teheran's sizable
Turkish community.

It could be argued that Children of Heaven veers into Rocky
territory toward the end, but Majidi never goes for cheap uplift
or sentimentality. Indeed, Ali's experience in the race is
presented with more than a little irony, and the film as a whole
finds a balance between optimism and bleak social realism.


© 1999 New Times, Inc.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:22:20 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Tehran Stock Exchange Annual Trade up by 57.13 %

Tehran Stock Exchange Annual Trade up by 57.13 Percent
==============================================


Xinhua
18-MAR-99

Percent

TEHRAN (March 18) XINHUA - The annual trade value of the Tehran
Stock Exchange reached more than 3,170 billion rials (about one
billion U.S. dollars), up by 57.13 percent during the current
Iranian calendar year to end on Saturday from the previous year.

A total of 1,210,940,429 shares of industrial and production
units changed hands in the year, up by 117.73 percent from last
Iranian year, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported on
Thursday.

The share price index on the last working day of the year stood
at 1537.96 points, down 115.10 points from that of the last
year.

The oil prices slump in the world market also hit the Tehran
Stock Exchange during the year. However, oil market recovery in
the past few days injected more vitality to stock trading in the
country.

Some economists predicted that stock market would be more active
in the Iranian new year following the agreement recently reached
by some oil producers to cut down their output in a bid to shore
up oil prices.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government has announced to privatize 190
state companies through the Tehran Stock Exchange in the new
year.
Tehran Stock Exchange opened in April 1968 with trading only on
government bonds and certain state-backed certificates. It was
shut down following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The stock market resumed activities in 1989 due to a
privatization drive of state-owned enterprises and promotion of
economic activities of the private sectors.
Reports said that more than 200 companies have gone on the
Tehran Stock Exchange.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:22:12 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Senate Urges Clinton To OK Farm Sales To Iran

Senate Urges Clinton To OK Farm Sales To Iran
=============================================

02:11 a.m. Mar 19, 1999 Eastern
By Adam Entous
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate urged the Clinton
administration Thursday to approve the sale of U.S. wheat and
other farm products to Iran, calling sanctions on food exports
''counterproductive''.

The nonbinding resolution, a sign of improved relations between
two countries which have been enemies for 20 years, was one of
31 amendments wrapped into a $1.9 billion aid package for
hurricane-battered Central America and Middle East ally Jordan
after hours of closed-door negotiations between Senate
Republicans and Democrats.

Approval of the amendments was tentative because the overall
spending package must still be passed by the Senate. That vote
was not expected until late Friday or early next week.

As requested by President Clinton, the Senate package included
$977 million to help Central American and Caribbean nations
battered last year by hurricanes Mitch and Georges.

It would also provide, as Clinton requested, $100 million this
year for Jordan's military and to help Amman repay its debts
after the death of King Hussein.

Other provisions popular with lawmakers would aid U.S. farmers
and set up a $1 billion loan guarantee program to help
struggling U.S. steel companies.

But the White House said Clinton may veto the entire Senate
package because of a provision barring the federal government
from taking a share of the settlement U.S. states reached with
tobacco companies.

The White House has also threatened to veto a similar measure in
the House of Representatives because it would pay for Central
American aid by diverting funds set aside for international
financial institutions like the World Bank.

The White House had no immediate comment on the Iran amendment,
cleared in the Senate by voice vote.

It called on the Clinton administration to approve an export
license for the sale of U.S. wheat and other agricultural
commodities to Iran.

``Sanctions on food are counterproductive to the interest of
United States farmers and to the people who would be fed by
these agricultural exports,'' the provision said.

Earlier this week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said
the administration was considering the food request, which would
allow the sale of $500 million of farm products to Iran
including two million metric tons of wheat.

``We are continuing to assess the situation, particularly Iran's
history of propagating weapons for mass destruction,'' Glickman
told reporters.

Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Iran after the 1979
Islamic revolution when militant Islamic students seized the
U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for more
than a year.
U.S.-Iran relations have thawed slightly since moderate
President Mohammad Khatami came to office in 1997 and the
administration is keen to have them improve further.

What makes the Senate vote all the more surprising is that the
Republican-led Congress has often taken a hard line against
Iran.

Other provisions in the Senate spending bill would help U.S.
producers of so-called ``club'' wheat and provide funding for
water projects in rural areas.

Several smaller initiatives were also approved. These included
more cash for prisons and fishermen in Alaska, money to combat
shoreline erosion at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and an amendment that
would help some of the nation's firefighters.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:22:26 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran Conducts Cloud Seeding

Iran Conducts Cloud Seeding
===========================


Xinhua
18-MAR-99

TEHRAN (March 18) XINHUA - Iran has successfully conducted its
first ever cloud seeding to boost rainfalls in the central Yazd
province, head of the National Research Center on Cloud Seeding
Ali Asqar Semsar Yazdi announced on Thursday.

The program, costing one billion rials (about 333,000 U.S.
dollars), has increased rainfalls in the province, said the
official.

With the help of 20 Russian experts, a total of 55 hours flight
has been made to inject the seeding substances to the clouds
over the area, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The Yazd province is one of the driest provinces in the center
of the country with an average annual rainfall of 60
millimeters.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:22:38 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Opinion Poll Conducted on President Khatami's Rome

Opinion Poll Conducted on President Khatami's Rome Visit
========================================================


thr 011
opinion poll-khatami
opinion poll conducted on president khatami's rome visit
tehran, march 20, irna -- 43.4 percent of a 1,171 people taking
part in an opinion polling in tehran province, believed that president
mohammad khatami's recent visit to italy was aimed at realizing his
proposal on dialogue amongst civilizations.
based on the said opinion poll, conducted by the national
institute for research on public opinion, 28.8 percent of those polled
said the most important objective behind president khatami's visit was
to get iran out of political isolation and another 27.8 percent
mentioned it as a step towards solving iran's economic problems.
women constituted 56.6 percent of those taking part in the
opinion poll and 76 percent of those polled knew the country visited
by president khatami.
40.7 of those questioned knew that the visit was the first of
its kind by an iranian president to a western europena state since
the triumph of the 1979 islamic revolution.
just 25.5 percent of those polled followed up president khatami's
visit to italy with keen interest and 31.8 and 35.9 percent of them
followed it up with less or little interest respectively.
they mentioned president khatami's meeting with pope,
establishment of better political and social relations with italy,
lecture to a group of students and professors and improvement of
relations with europe as the most important features of the
president's visit to italy.
84.2 percent of those polled were of the belief that such visits
would improve iran's economic status.
60 percent of the people questioned believed that such visits
would be harmful to the u.s. and would anger it. 72.6 percent
of them believed that president khatami tries to initiate political
and economic reforms in iran through help from european countries
and 77.6 percent said that the visit by an iranian president to a
european country after passage of 20 years left the impression that
iran has got out of isolation.
moreover, 40 percent of those polled were against the idea that
such visits would settle iran-u.s. disputes. on the contrary,
35.3 percent believed that such visits to europe would eventually
help solve the 20 year long disputes between iran and the u.s.
bg/rr
end
::irna 20/03/99 12:10

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:22:54 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran's Khatami Cancels Visit to Saudi -Newspaper

Iran's Khatami Cancels Visit to Saudi -Newspaper
================================================


Reuters
18-MAR-99

TEHRAN, March 18 (Reuters) - An Iranian newspaper said on
Thursday that President Mohammad Khatami had cancelled a planned
visit to Saudi Arabia over Riyadh's support for the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) in a territorial dispute with Iran.

"Subsequent to...Riyadh's wrong stance on the three Iranian
islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and the Lesser Tunbs in the
Persian Gulf, President Seyed Mohammad Khatami cancelled his
visit to Saudi Arabia," the English-language Tehran Times said.

There was no immediate official reaction to the report by the
conservative newspaper, which did not cite a source.

Iranian officials have said no firm date has been set for
Khatami's visit, who was expected to travel to Saudi Arabia in
late March. It would be the highest-ranking visit to the kingdom
by an Iranian official since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Saudi Arabia earlier this month joined the other Gulf Arab
states in demanding that Iran halt naval exercises near the
three strategic islands, which are controlled by Tehran but also
claimed by the UAE.

Iran rejected the demand, but said it was ready to hold talks
with the UAE over the dispute.

Relations between regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia, which
had often been tense since the revolution, have improved in
recent years and particularly since Khatami's 1997 election.

The moderate Khatami has advocated easing tensions in Iran's
foreign relations and improving ties with neighbouring states.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the largest producers and exporters in
the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, earlier this
month settled a dispute over Tehran's production under an OPEC
pact last year.

The agreement between the two OPEC giants preceded a new pact
this month by key world oil countries to cut output by two
million barrels per day, which has helped boost oil prices.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:22:46 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: FM Spokesman Calls for Talks to Solve Iran-UAE Dis

FM Spokesman Calls for Talks to Solve Iran-UAE Dispute
======================================================


thr 003
fm-asefi
fm spokesman calls for talks to solve iran-uae dispute
tehran, march 20, irna -- foreign ministry spokesman hamid-reza
asefi said here on friday that iran and the uae can solve their
disputes solely by holding negotiations within framework of a mutually
concluded memorandum of understanding in 1971.
asefi reiterated that the three islands of the greater and
lesser tunbs and abu mousa are inseparable part of iran's territory.
he dismissed recent statement issued at the foreign ministerial
meeting of the arab league member countries in cairo on thursday and
said it is a sign of intervention in iran's internal affairs.
the foreign ministry spokesman said the military maneuvers
launched by iran are for defensive purposes aiming to guarantee its
territorial integrity.
he said that conduction of military maneuvers is undeniable
rights of countries, adding that iranian war games are aimed at
preserving stability and security in the persian gulf region.
bg/rr
end
::irna 20/03/99 10:09

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:23:18 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran Criticizes Arabs Over Disputed Gulf Islands

Iran Criticizes Arabs Over Disputed Gulf Islands
================================================


Xinhua
19-MAR-99

TEHRAN (March 19) XINHUA - Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Hamid Reza Asefi on Friday night criticized the Arab states for
supporting the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
over disputed islands in the Gulf.

Asefi rejected the statement by foreign ministers of the Arab
League in Cairo on Thursday as an "intervention in Iran's
internal affairs," the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The Arab foreign minister on Thursday restated support for the
UAE's sovereignty over the Abu Musa, the Greater and the Leaser
Tunbs at the mouth of the strategic Hormoz Strait and condemned
Iran for staging war games in the waters off the islands and
building facilities on them.

The Arab League statement also accused Iran of "violating UAE's
sovereignty" over the Islands and urged Tehran to withdraw its
forces from them.

The Iranian spokesman reiterated that the three islands are
"inseparable parts of Iranian territory and Iran conducted
military exercises in the region with an aim to safeguard its
territorial integrity.

He noted that it is Iran's right to hold such military
exercises, which would help maintain stability and security of
the region.

Asefi underlined that the "misunderstanding" between Iran and
the UAE would be resolved only through bilateral talks and on
the basis of the agreement reached by the two countries in 1971.

Iran took over the three islands in 1971 after the British
forces withdrew from the region. However, both Tehran and Abu
Dhabi claimed sovereignty over them.

The UAE has proposed to refer the issue to international
arbitration, but Iran insists on holding direct negotiations to
solve the problem without interference of other parties.

Some reports said that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has
canceled his scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia in a protest to
Riyadh's support for the UAE's sovereignty over the islands.

Local observers said that the UAE-Iran dispute would cast a
shadow over the relations between Iran and the Gulf states,
which have been warmed up only after President Khatami came to
power in 1997 with a policy of "detente" with regional
countries.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:23:08 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: US BANS IRAN SOCCER STARS FROM VISIT

US BANS IRAN SOCCER STARS FROM VISIT
====================================

Reported by "The Persian Center"


The United States Consul in Dubai, UAE, has denied visitor visas
to three Iranian professional soccer players, members of the
Iranian National Team. The three stars were denied visas as they
sought to attend Iranian-American festivities organized to
celebrate the Persian New Year in the San Francisco Bay Area
this weekend. Hamid-Reza Estili, Mohammed Khakpour and
Ahmad-Reza Abedzadeh are all key members of the Iranian National
Soccer Team, champions of Asia and the team that defeated the US
national team 2-1 at the World Cup last summer. Estili scored
the first Iranian goal in that emotional game but he now finds
himself denied by a different American gatekeeper. The US Consul
in Dubai denied visas to the three athletes because he felt that
they would remain in the US. The Consul apparently is not a
soccer fan: Estili, Abedzadeh and Khakpour are hot in pursuit of
championships for their Iranian club teams and are in no mood to
abandon the frenzy of soccer-crazy Iran or Europe for the
relative soccer barrenness of the US.

The three were invited to attend festivities sponsored by the
Persian Center, a nonprofit charitable organization based in
Santa Clara, California. Persian Center President, Shahin
Tabrizi, stated, "We wanted to greet this joyous occasion by
building a bridge between the people of the two countries,
devoid of politics; it would seem that the hundreds of thousands
of Iranian-Americans in this country who are among the most
educated and affluent citizens would be able to celebrate this
3000-year-old tradition, at peace. We have had to tolerate many
restrictions between the government of our origins and our new
home for the past twenty years; it is an insult to the thousands
of Iranian-Americans who have contributed so much to this
country, to find their heroesí visa requests denied on such an
occasion.î The Persian New Year (ìNorouzî) is celebrated on the
first day of spring (March 20 or 21) of each year by millions of
Iranians, Iranian-Americans, and several other nations.

The Iran and US have cautiously opened some limited cultural and
sports contacts over the past year. The Iranian national
wrestling team however was briefly detained and fingerprinted at
O'Hare Airport by US Immigration Inspectors apparently unaware
of their special mission. The State Department later regretted
that incident but this new complication will surely add to the
sensitive state of affairs between Iran and the US. In addition,
the international media are sure to have a field day with the US
Consul's decision since these three players are internationally
known and the basis for the Consul's denial is easily refuted.
"We hope that the US government will understand that athletes
are the true ambassadors of the world. The entire world will be
offended if politics or bureaucracy deny our right to celebrate
the New Year with these heroes" said Shahin Tabrizi.

The Persian Center has taken numerous measures in the last few
days to reverse this decision including contacting Senator
Barbara Boxer, Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Trent Lott,
Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, and President Bill
Clinton. Additionally, they have filed a petition to appeal this
situation and have received thousands of signatures via the
Internet.

The Persian Center is a non-profit charitable organization,
dedicated to providing an environment for education, cultural
celebrations, and exhibitions to promote an understanding of the
Persian culture and heritage, as well as peace through education
and understanding.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:23:26 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iranian Pilgrims Plan Anti-U.S. Rally at Haj

Iranian Pilgrims Plan Anti-U.S. Rally at Haj
============================================


Reuters
19-MAR-99

MECCA, Saudi Arabia, March 19 (Reuters) - Iranian pilgrims plan
to stage a rally to denounce the United States and Israel at the
peak of the annual haj, an Iranian haj official said on Friday.

"We will do it on the day of Arafat," the official who asked not
to be named told Reuters.

He was referring to the day when Moslems performing the haj mark
the climax of their sacred pilgrimage at Mount Arafat, where
prophet Mohammad gave his final sermon 14 centuries ago. This
year the day of Arafat will be celebrated on March 26.

In the past, political rallies by Iranian pilgrims during the
haj have been the source of tension between Tehran and Riyadh.
Saudi officials prohibit political demonstrations at haj, saying
the pilgrimage should be strictly religious.

In 1987, 402 pilgrims, mostly Iranians, died in clashes with
Saudi security forces at an Iranian-led rally in Mecca. Iran
boycotted the haj for three years.

But the Iranian official sounded a conciliatory note ,
reflecting improving ties between the two countries since the
election of moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in 1997.

"We have come to terms with the Saudi authorities," the official
said in an apparent reference to plans to hold a low-key rally
inside the Iranian tent compound.

In recent years, Iranians have held rallies within their own
compound and Saudi authorities have not intervened.

Eyewitness said Saudi authorities have eased security around the
Iranian compound in Mecca this year. They said anti-riot squads
and armoured vehicles, a usual sight around the Iranian
compound, were not to be seen.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 19 Mar 1999 to 20 Mar 1999 - Special issue
*******************************************************************