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There are 8 messages totalling 595 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

2. Soccer-S.Africa to Play Saudis in Delayed Cup Deci
3. US Firm Confident Clinton Will OK Iran Farm Sale
4. Iran's Top Judge Threatens Crackdown on Liberals
5. Commodities-Wheat Leads Grains up, Oil and Coffee
6. Bill to Limit US Sanctions Hailed by Oil Interests
7. Saudi Prince Orders Airport Open for Iran Pilgrims
8. Muslims Celebrate Holy Sacrifice


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:25:50 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>


By Safa Haeri

TEHRAN-PARIS 26TH MAR. (IPS) In one of his most virulent speech
that set him as the prime flag bearer of the conservatives
against the reformists, the ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Head of
the Islamic Judiciary bluntly and publicly threatened Friday the
President ayatollah Mohammad Khatami of demotion, his Minister
of Islamic Culture and Guidance, Mr. Ata'ollah Mohajerani of
impeachment and the liberal press of censorship.

Mr. Yazdi's unprecedented attack on the president was
immediately interpreted by senior Iranian analysts as the start
of a new, "orchestrated" campaign by the defeated conservatives
against the reformists, as he accused Mr. Khatami of negligence,
described the Guidance Minister as "incompetent" regarding
Islamic laws.

"Ayatollah Yazdi's speech smells of renewed war waged by the
conservatives against the reformist camp during the new
(Iranian) year, meaning the possibility of impeaching the
Guidance Minister and even the demotion of the president on the
pretext of ignoring Islamic and revolutionary values and
neglecting the Islamic Constitution", observed Mr. Ahmad
Salamatian, a Paris-based political analyst.

"We tell the President that as president, your first and prime
duty is to apply and safeguard the Islamic Constitution.
Therefore, whenever you see a breach to the Constitution and its
clauses, you have to intervene. The Constitution says the press
is free but to undermine and menace Islam and the public's
rights. Law says the press do not have the right to talk and
write against Islam, if one does so, he will be arrested and
brought to justice, regardless of his rank or position or
personality", Mr. Yazdi told the worshippers in the first Friday
prier of the new Iranian year.

Mr. Yazdi's unprecedented words were the strongest ever voiced
publicly against president Khatami who leads the reformist camp
against the conservatives who, thanks to the position of the
leader, the ayatollah Khameneh'i, still control all key
positions and strategic posts in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

His violent remarks were in reference to some liberal clerics
and Islamic intellectuals, such as the hojatoleslam Mohsen
Kadivar, who questions the concept of velayate faqih, the
cornerstone of the present Islamic regime of Iran as well as the
role of the vali, or the supreme jurist, or tutor, a position
now held by the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, who's religious
credentials are open to question as he had been elevated to the
rank of ayatollah overnight, after he was chosen to replace the
grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny after his death in 1989.

Mr. Kadivar, a brother-in-law of Mr. Mohajerani and an adviser
to the President was arrested a month ago on orders from the
notorious Clergymen Special Tribunal after he wrote an article
in the liberal daily Khordad saying there were at least 12
different versions of interpreting the role and position of the
valye faqih, including one that says he can be elected by the

"This is a declaration of war against the President, the
Guidance Minister and the liberal press that is now led by
prominent liberal clerics such as the hojatoleslam Abdollah
Nouri, the former outspoken Interior Minister who now publishes
the widely popular Khordad newspaper. This is the most direct
menace by the Judiciary against the reformist camp and in
support of recent killing of dissident politicians and
intellectuals", commented a senior Iranian analyst in Tehran who
asked to not publish his name.

"Our people wants Islam and nothing else. Not what Radio America
or Radio Israel says and some newspapers repeat. Our people
reject the kind of freedom that means to write whatever they
think against Islam and its tenets. Our institutions are here to
observe and to act whenever deemed necessary, without neither
warning nor listening to what others say, the ultra-conservative
ayatollah warned.

A close associate and adviser to the leader, the ayatollah Yazdi
is loathed by the intellectuals, the liberal press and the
scholars not only because of his staunch hating of democracy and
Western type of freedom, but mostly because of his arrogance and
his vulgarity.

Reiterating that the Judiciary had never intervened in political
matters, he said when a pressman is arrested and brought to
court, one hear loud voices crying wolf, saying this is not
Islam, this is against law. But which law? What are the tenets
of Islam? Who can tell me what are the fundaments of Islam? The
Guidance Minister? His deputies? They who bestow awards on
anti-Islamic so-called writers do know nothing about Islam. How
then can they say who is harming Islam? They have no such
competence", the Judiciary boss shouted with his strong voice
and in reference to the Guidance Ministry's recent honouring of
some secular writers, poets and intellectuals, a move that was
sharply criticised by hard line newspapers.

"Mr. Yazdi says the Judiciary has never interfered with
politics. But his speech today is all political, all menaces
against the president, the Minister of Islamic Culture and
Guidance, against the press, against political freedom and civil
society. The only thing one does not hear in this speech is
religion, tolerance, humanity, and respect of one's rights. Once
again, Mr. Yazdi has interpreted the Constitution in his own
way, the very same way he interprets the non politicisation of
the Judiciary, an institution that, contrary to Mr. Yazdi,s
declaration, has always acted as a major political organ and
instrument in the service of the rulers of the Islamic Republic,
the same way as to day, Mr. Yazdi acts as the leading figure and
personality of the conservative wing", Mr. Salamatian noted.

Talking to the Persian Service of Radio France Internationale
(RFI), Mr. Salamatian expressed his "fear" of an "all out
assault" by the hard liners in the coming weeks and months
against the liberals, resulting in either a violent clashes that
will harm the future of present political process or the further
marginalisation of the right wing extremists "extremely angry
and humiliated" at the crushing defeat they suffered in the
recent Council elections. ENDS YAZDI MENACES 2639902


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:26:00 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Soccer-S.Africa to Play Saudis in Delayed Cup Deci

Soccer-S.Africa to Play Saudis in Delayed Cup Decider

03:34 a.m. Mar 26, 1999 Eastern
JOHANNESBURG, March 26 (Reuters) - South Africa will play Saudi
Arabia in September to decide the long-delayed Afro-Asian
Nations Cup, officials said on Friday.

The first leg of the Cup, which was to have been played two
years ago when both countries were reigning continental
champions, will be in Johannesburg on September 19.

The return will be in Riyadh on September 30, the South African
Football Association said.

The settling of the dates means that African and Asian officials
can now go ahead with the planning of the 1999 Afro-Asian
Nations Cup match between last year's African Nations Cup
winners Egypt and Asian Games gold medallists Iran.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:26:16 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: US Firm Confident Clinton Will OK Iran Farm Sale

US Firm Confident Clinton Will OK Iran Farm Sale

Thursday March 25, 9:54 pm Eastern Time

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) - The head of a small company
seeking permission to sell $500 million of U.S. farm goods to
Iran said on Thursday that he was ``very confident'' of getting
approval from the Clinton administration.
Niki Trading Co's request for a waiver from U.S. economic
sanctions on Iran has become a major rallying cry for farm state
lawmakers who say growers can't afford to lose any more business
in a depressed market.

``There has been steady progress and we think things are moving
in the right direction,'' Richard Bliss, president of Niki, told

``I'm very confident that this will be approved, but don't want
to speculate on the date,'' he added.

Rumors at the Chicago Board of Trade that the White House could
soon approve the Iran sale helped push wheat futures prices five
to 12-3/4 cents per bushel higher on Thursday.

Clinton administration officials have repeatedly said that no
lifting of the sanctions would be approved until Tehran made
significant changes in its policies on terrorism, weapons of
mass destruction and the Mideast peace process.

U.S. relations with Iran have improved since moderate President
Mohammad Khatami took power in 1997, and the Clinton
administration is eager to improve them further.

Farmers and lawmakers from agricultural states say that the
United States only hurts itself when it imposes unilateral
sanctions because other countries step in to make the sales.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, told Reuters that a
proposal to allow the sale to Iran was at the White House
awaiting a decision.

Dorgan said he talked recently with National Security Advisor
Sandy Berger who told him the administration was in the process
of reaching a decision.

Also, Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, recently learned from
Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering that the administration
plans to propose in the next few weeks the generic lifting of
all trade sanctions on food and medicine expo


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:26:30 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran's Top Judge Threatens Crackdown on Liberals

Iran's Top Judge Threatens Crackdown on Liberals

08:27 a.m. Mar 26, 1999 Eastern
TEHRAN, March 26 (Reuters) - The conservative head of Iran's
judiciary on Friday threatened a crackdown on liberal critics
and the moderate press, accusing them of seeking to undermine
Islam and the 1979 Islamic revolution.

``There is no freedom for you to write and say anything you
like. Our people do not want such freedom if it is against the
tenets of Islam,'' Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi said in a sermon at
Tehran University.

``The ruling institutions are overseen and they will take action
when necessary and will not listen to what others say,'' he

``Don't come out tomorrow and ask why you were not warned in
advance. Don't cry out when we arrest someone.''

Yazdi was referring to last month's arrest of moderate cleric
Mohsen Kadivar on charges of undermining Islam and the
revolution in his writings and speeches. The arrest drew strong
protest from reformers backing President Mohammad Khatami.

Yazdi is one of the staunchest opponents of the greater press
freedom which resulted from Khatami's election in 1997.

He often accuses the culture ministry, headed by liberal thinker
Ataollah Mohajerani, of giving a free rein to secular

Yazdi sharply criticised Mohajerani for honouring a group of
secular writers early this month for their works after the

``The culture ministry is not qualified to rule on tenets of
Islam,'' he said.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:27:14 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Commodities-Wheat Leads Grains up, Oil and Coffee

Commodities-Wheat Leads Grains up, Oil and Coffee Rise


CHICAGO (Reuters) - Wheat prices closed higher Thursday on
optimism about exports as talk spread that the government would
ease trade sanctions to allow sales to Iran and more sales would
be possible to China and Russia.

In other commodity markets, oil and coffee prices closed higher
on growing confidence that exporters may not supply as much as
thought. Sugar eked out a gain after testing 12-year lows.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, wheat for May delivery soared
12-1/2 cents a bushel to close at $2.82-1/4, the highest price
in two months.

Bullish talk centered on the possibility that Iran may become
eligible for U.S. farm goods for the first time since 1995. A
proposal to allow up to $500 million in U.S. farm exports to
Iran including wheat was at the White House awaiting a decision,
North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan said Thursday.

Talk also circulated that China may announce an agreement to end
its claims of a fungus, TCK smut, in U.S. wheat ahead of next
month's first visit to the United States by Chinese premier Zhu

"I think they may have resolved the TCK smut issue with China
and also there were rumors sanctions against Iran will be
lifted," said Dan Cekander, grain analyst for FIMAT Futures.

"This doesn't mean we definitely will sell wheat to China but it
would make it easier to do so," Cekander said.

China's northern wheat-growing regions have been plagued by
dryness this year until recent rains, which could point to
import needs. But China has routinely cited the presence of TCK
smut in shunning some shipments of U.S. wheat.

Other news reports, including statements by Agriculture
Secretary Dan Glickman that food aid talks with Russia would be
unaffected by Russia's opposition to this week's NATO air
attacks in Yugoslavia, also buoyed grain markets.

May soybeans closed 11-1/4 cents a bushel higher at $4.99 and
May corn 1-3/4 cents a bushel higher at $2.29-3/4.

Oil markets also closed higher on optimism that the persistent
world-wide oil supply glut may at last be trimmed by this week's
fresh agreements among world oil producers to cut back exports
by more than two million barrels a day.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for May delivery
closed 33 cents higher at $15.67 a barrel. April gasoline rose
0.39 cent a gallon at 48.41 cents and April heating oil 0.96
cent a gallon at 41.45 cents.

The agreement signed in Vienna calls for 10 members of the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut output by 1.7
million barrels per day beginning April 1. Non-OPEC producers
Mexico, Norway, Oman and Russia have said they will cooperate
with OPEC and cut production by another 388,000 barrels.

On Thursday, news that OPEC producer Iraq had sliced its
scheduled April loadings of Kirkuk crude more than 180,000
barrels a day from its March levels was a fresh reason to buy.

At the New York Board of Trade, coffee prices closed higher on
optimism that shipments from leading exporter Brazil may not
flood the market as expected. May coffee closed 2.30 cents a
pound higher at 104.20 cents.

"The Brazilian real was stronger, which improves sentiment
somewhat," said Judith Ganes, a commodity analyst with Merrill
Lynch & Co. It looks like Brazilian exports "will be smaller
than what we'd originally expected," she added.

Sugar prices closed up 0.09 cent a pound at 5.56 cents but
traders said the gain -- a bounce after a test of the 12-year
low at 5.35 cents early in the day -- might be short-lived.

"We tested good support and had a bit of trade buying. It's a
slightly constructive day. But it's going to require
follow-through buying," said James Cordier, broker for the
Liberty Trading Group in Florida.

World sugar supplies are abundant and key importers like Russia
face continuing problems with finances.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:27:40 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Bill to Limit US Sanctions Hailed by Oil Interests

Bill to Limit U.S. Sanctions Hailed by Oil Interests


NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. oil interests applauded the
introduction in Congress this week of a bill to limit the power
of unilateral sanctions, seeing it as a key step in the battle
to reopen Iran and other countries closed to American investment
by current government policy.

The Sanctions Process Reform bill requires any future unilateral
sanctions to explain their goals in detail and spell out the
economic consequences for U.S. companies.
"We fully expect that with the strong bipartisan support the
bill is receiving, it will become law during the 106th
Congress," said Frank Kittredge, a spokesman for USA ENGAGE, an
umbrella lobbying group representing oil, agriculture and other
business, which has waged a two year campaign against unilateral
sanctions policy.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on
Wednesday by Representative Phil Crane, an Illinois Republican,
and is to be launched in the Senate on Friday by Sen. Richard
Lugar, an Indiana Republican.

Bipartisan support for the measure in Congress, together with
some recent signals from the Clinton Administration, mean "the
prospects for meaningful sanctions reform are excellent," said
Rod MacAlister, a Washington lobbyist for Conoco Inc., which
lost a multibillion-dollar Iran oil deal to French oil interests
when sanctions were imposed.

"The debate over the last two years has really shown up the
shortcomings of an overreliance by the U.S. on unilateral
sanctions as a tool. Hopefully, some new thinking will take
place out of this debate," MacAlister said.

A similar bill failed last summer, but supporters say that was
because it was tied to a controversial agricultural
appropriations bill which did not have the support of Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott. Lott, a Mississippi Republican, put
his support behind the bill this week and all but die-hard
opponents, such as Sen. Jesse Helms, Republican of North
Carolina, are expected to vote for it.

Lugar, who said there are already 30 co-sponsors in the Senate,
said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the bill would
ensure that unilateral sanctions are imposed as a last resort,
not as a first course.

There is strong support from farm states, too, especially in the
run-up to elections.
"This bill will help the people of the world and our agriculture
producers by making it harder for the government to use
sanctions -- especially agricultural -- as a weapon of foreign
policy," said Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat.

Those pushing for an easing of sanctions say the bill is another
positive sign. Last Thursday's unanimous Senate vote to allow
the sale of $500 million of American wheat to Iran should also
clear the way for President Bill Clinton to take more steps to
ease sanctions, they said.

"The problem is the bureaucracy. The President would like to
move but three things need to happen first," said an oil
lobbyist in Washington.

The political environment needs to improve further by more moves
like this week's bill and last week's wheat vote. Then the
Administration needs to specifically articulate its goals which
would allow it to ease Iran sanctions, following on Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright's general "road map" speech last year.

Finally, the specific steps toward lifting the U.S.-only embargo
can be set up.

The agenda is different for other targets of sanctions, such as
Libya, the Sudan and Burma, and Iran's potential projects --
mainly energy -- are mostly measured in the billions of dollars,
lobbyists said.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:27:52 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Saudi Prince Orders Airport Open for Iran Pilgrims

Saudi Prince Orders Airport Open for Iran Pilgrims


TEHRAN, March 26 (Reuters) - Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, in a
special gesture to Iran, ordered an airport reopened to allow
the last batch of Iranian pilgrims to attend the annual haj,
Iran's official news agency IRNA said on Friday.

It quoted Iran's ambassador to Saudi Arabia as saying Jeddah
airport, closed since Monday at the start of haj, was reopened
on Thursday to receive planes carrying 2,500 Iranians as well as
Iraqi and Afghan refugees.

The group had been held up because the Saudi embassy in Tehran
had refused to issue them visas for unspecified reasons.

"The problem was resolved after sincere efforts and through the
good offices of Prince Abdullah," ambassador Mohammad Reza Nouri

The haj reached its climax on Friday when some two million
pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat, where Prophet Mohammad delivered
his last sermon 14 centuries ago, to spend a day in prayers.

"The airport was opened on the directives of Prince Abdullah and
airport personnel reported to work. Therefore, none of the
Iranian pilgrims were deprived of the haj rituals this year,"
Nouri said.

"The facilities placed at the disposal of Iranian pilgrims this
year were quite remarkable," he said. "It only shows that
relations between the two countries have reached to a good and
appropriate level."

Tehran-Riyadh ties have markedly improved since moderate
President Mohammad Khatami took office in Iran nearly two years

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 02:28:12 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Muslims Celebrate Holy Sacrifice

Muslims Celebrate Holy Sacrifice

BBC World: Middle East
Saturday, March 27, 1999 Published at 15:02 GMT

More than two million Muslims making the annual pilgrimage to
holy sites in Saudi Arabia are taking part in ceremonies to mark
Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
They began with the Stoning of Satan ritual early on Saturday in
the town of Mina, each pilgrim casting seven small pebbles, and
calling on Allah to accept their Hajj.

The pilgrims have since been returning to the city of Mecca to
circle the holy Kabah in the Grand Mosque and share in the
ritual sacrifice of animals.
On Friday, they walked to the summit of Mount Arafat, a key
moment in the Hajj pilgrimage.

They had spent Thursday night on the plains of Mina in readiness
for the Arafat ceremony which reaches its climax at sunset.

Mount Arafat is revered because the Prophet Mohammed is said to
have delivered his last sermon there 1,400 years ago.
Under a scorching sun, an endless flow of pilgrims made their
way to the mountain by foot or in tens of thousands of buses.

The air resounded with the chant: "Here I am, Allah, responding
to your call, here I am, Allah, there is no other God but you."

This year's ritual of standing at Mount Arafat is being
performed on Islam's holy day, giving the Hajj the status of a
"greater pilgrimage." The last time the Mount Arafat ritual
occurred on a Friday was in 1994.

Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it is expected to attend
the Hajj once in a lifetime.

Past disasters
The Saudi authorities have spent millions of dollars on
improving safety during this year's Hajj, following incidents in
previous years in which many pilgrims were killed.

After a fire swept through the camp at Mina two years ago,
killing 343 people, Hajj organisers commissioned special
fireproof tents and banned gas cooking cylinders.

Pilgrims arriving from the holy city of Mecca are now being
housed in a total of nearly 30,000 of these fibreglass tents,
each equipped with water-sprinklers and alarms.

Up to 10,000 medical staff have also been put on standby, with
5,000 hospital beds made ready for emergencies.

This year Saudi residents have for the first time been
restricted to making the pilgrimage only once every five years,
in an effort to keep down numbers.

Iraq's snub

Saudi newspapers are continuing to criticise Iraq for recalling
thousands of pilgrims it sent to Mecca last week.

The Saudi authorities refused Baghdad's demand to pay the
pilgrims' expenses out of Iraqi funds frozen since 1990.

Saudi Arabia offered to pay the Iraqi pilgrims' expenses, but
Iraq declined the offer.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 28 Mar 1999