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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 8 Oct 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 8 Oct 1998
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There are 8 messages totalling 475 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran arrests five Taliban "terrorists"
2. Iranian president happy crisis with Germany "behind them"
3. Iran names first female diplomat since 1979 Islamic Revolution
4. Iran signals desire to join the global economy
5. Mobil attacks U.S. stance on Iran
6. Iran leader urges big turnout in ``experts'' poll
7. Iran women's fight not feministic, says official
8. PEN: An open letter to president Khatami to protest the new wave of
attacks on the freedom of expression in Iran


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:10:03 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran arrests five Taliban "terrorists"

TEHRAN, Oct 8 (AFP) - Iranian authorities have arrested five
Afghan nationals, accusing them of spying for the Taliban Islamic
militia and seeking to carry out terrorist activities in Iran, a
newspaper reported Thursday.
The suspects, whose identities were not revealed, infiltrated
Iran through the border town of Zabol, in southeastern
Sistan-Baluchestan province, Jomhuri Islami daily said.
"The five were sent by the Taliban to carry out terrorist and
sabotage activities and commit acts of banditry in Iranian towns and
villages," it charged.
"After crossing the border they hid their weapons in a village
and infliltrated an Afghan refugee camp," the paper added, noting
that the suspects were seized in Zabol before "having a chance to do
The paper did not give the date of their arrest.
Newspapers said Sunday that four Afghans had been arrested in
Zahedan, the main town in Sistan-Baluchestan, on charges of spying
for the Taliban and seeking to engage in terrorist operations.
Tensions between Shiite Moslem Iran and the extremist Sunni
Moslem Taliban increased after the murder by the militia in August
of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan.
The Iranian army has massed tens of thousands of troops along
the border with Afghanistan for maneuvers in a warning to the
Taliban, which is accused here of engaging in "acts of banditry and
drug trafficking."


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:10:20 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian president happy crisis with Germany "behind them"

TEHRAN, Oct 7 (AFP) - President Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday
he was happy the diplomatic crisis between Iran and Germany was
"behind them" and called for dialogue and greater economic
cooperation between the two countries.
"I am happy to see Tehran and Bonn could put the past crisis
behind them. The two countries should learn from the lessons of the
past," said Khatami in a farewell meeting with outgoing German
ambassador Horst Baechmann.
"Understanding and rationalism is the overriding need in the
present world," the president said, quoted by the official Iranian
news agency IRNA. "Iran and Germany can start a dialogue of
civilization sooner than with the others."
Khatami also called for "better economic cooperation in the
interests of both countries in a situation where the world economy
is facing a crisis."
"There are numerous grounds for boosting relations between the
two nations and we should work hard at it," he said.
Tehran and Bonn nearly normalized relations last year seven
months after a diplomatic row erupted in April 1997 over the
implication of Iranian leaders by a German court in the 1992 murder
of four dissidents in Berlin.
But relations are still strained by a death sentence imposed on
a German businessman, Hemut Hofer, here for alleged sexual relations
with a Moslem woman.
Hofer has appealed the sentence and an appeals court is
reviewing the case.


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:10:36 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran names first female diplomat since 1979 Islamic Revolution

TEHRAN, Oct 7 (AFP) - Iran has named its first female diplomat
since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Fatemeh Hashemi, the head of women's affairs at the foreign
ministry, told Iran News that the unidentified woman has been
cleared for a post at Iran's mission to the United Nations in New
York and is waiting for a vacancy.
She also said the foreign ministry had agreed for the first time
since the revolution to name a woman ambassador to an unspecified
country, but that the apointee had herself refused to take the job.
"I expect that the ministry will appoint another woman as
ambassador by the end of this year or the beginning of the next,"
said Hashemi, the elder daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi
Iranian women have in recent years made headway in traditionally
male-controlled areas, including the police, judiciary and
relatively high government positions.
A woman currently serves as vice-president on environmental
affairs and another is the chief of a municipality district in
One of the last holdouts is the judiciary, which still bars
women from presiding over court proceedings, although female judges
are now allowed to rule in family disputes or serve as advisers to
presidents of tribunals.
The Islamic regime has also implicitly barred women from running
for president, although there are 14 female MPs in parliament.
Nine women who signed up recently to take part in elections for
the male clergy-controlled Assembly of Experts were all rejected on
the grounds they did not have sufficient knowledge of religious


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:12:21 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran signals desire to join the global economy

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (AFP) - Iran on Wednesday used a major world
forum to signal its desire to become a full member of the global
economy once its recently unveiled reform program is in place.
Iranian Finance Minister Hossein Namazi, addressing the annual
joint meeting here of the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund, commended both institutions for their debt-relief initiatives
targetting poor countries and spoke approvingly of the free flow of
international capital.
Namazi's remarks appeared to confirm a new interest on the part
of Iranian authorities in strengthening ties to the non-Islamic
industrialized world. The minister spoke in the language of western
financiers and bankers, making reference to "transparency,"
"downsizing" and "capital account liberalization."
He concluded his speech with a summary of an economic reform
package, presented by President Mohammad Khatami in August, that
seeks to attract foreign investment while combatting unemployment
and inflation.
"Once fully operational, the program will pave the way for the
full integration of the Iranian economy in the global system,"
Namazi told fellow finance officials from around the world.
But with the plunge in oil prices, brought on by worldwide
overproduction and a drop in demand from Asia, Iran is expected to
face a revenue shortfall of six billion dollars this year, or around
a third of the budget, according to estimates in Tehran.
"The adverse impact on our economy has been severe at a time
when stabilization policies were paying dividends in terms of lower
inflation," Namazi commented.
President Khatami in August pledged to remove barriers to
foreign investment and Namazi on Wednesday expressed support for the
IMF's promotion of the free flow of capital across national
But he added that "it is particularly critical that an efficient
and patient transitional arrangement, along with the provision of
adequate financing, be designed to provide strong support for the
IMF's encouragement of an orderly process of capital account
Elsewhere in his remarks, Namazi hailed the World Bank and the
Fund for their heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative,
which offers debt relief to some of the world's most impoverished
nations that agree to implement free-market reforms.
"It is hoped that these initiatives will be further strengthened
and broadened to provide a reasonable chance for these economies to
benefit from the globalized economy," he said.


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:19:05 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Mobil attacks U.S. stance on Iran

Mobil attacks U.S. stance on Iran 03:31 a.m. Oct 07, 1998 Eastern

By Mike Collett-White

ALMATY, Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. oil major Mobil slammed the United
States' position on energy investment in Iran on Wednesday, saying that
Washington's reluctance to do business with Tehran was ``doing more harm
than good.''

Carl Burnett, president of Mobil Oil Kazakhstan, is keen to see
U.S.-Iranian relations thaw, because it would help unlock Central Asia's
vast oil and gas wealth by providing an alternative pipeline route to
world markets.

``Mobil has been outspoken against sanctions in places like Iran, where
we believe they do more harm than good,'' Burnett told an oil and gas
conference in Kazakhstan's commercial capital of Almaty, adding that
they isolated the Iranian people.

Burnett said that Mobil was being prevented from exploring oil
transportation opportunities south through Iran because of U.S. policy.
Mobil also has plans to swap oil with Iran.

A 1996 law passed by Congress imposes sanctions on non-U.S. companies
that invest more than $20 million a year in either Iran or Libya's oil
and natural gas sectors.

The United States is demanding that Iran stops supporting international
terrorism and end its programme for acquiring weapons of mass

The Clinton administration waived the sanctions in May against France's
Total, Russia's Gazprom and Malaysia's Petronas

for entering a $2 billion deal to develop Iran's South Pars natural gas

But many companies remain fearful of the law.

Ambassador Richard Morningstar, U.S. secretary of state for Caspian
basin energy development, told the same conference that the U.S. was
categorically opposed to building oil and gas pipelines across Iran.

``Our policy is that we do not support pipelines through Iran,'' he

But he added that the U.S. was more flexible on oil and gas exploration
and production projects in Iran.

``It is imperative that pipelines that are built ensure independence and

His position reflects that of some oil executives based in Central Asia.
They say that Iran could put its interests first when supplying oil and
gas to world markets, delivering Caspian energy only once its own
products had been sold.

But others are keen to see the Iranian transportation route opened up.

The lack of access to world markets is the biggest single factor holding
back major development of oil and gas in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and

One big project, the 1,500-km (960-mile) Caspian Pipeline Consortium, is
expected to be ready by early 2001, but more routes will be needed to
allow Kazakhstan to enjoy the benefits of its resource riches, Burnett


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:33:37 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran leader urges big turnout in ``experts'' poll

Iran leader urges big turnout in ``experts'' poll

By Barry May

TEHRAN, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday called for a big
turnout in elections to a theological assembly which could determine his

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke to hundreds of cheering state employees at a
mosque adjacent to his official residence, a day after the Guardian Council
issued the names of 167 men who passed strict religious screening to run for
the 86-member Assembly of Experts.

Khamenei's call came amid complaints by moderates that the
conservative-dominated Guardian Council had eliminated many moderate
candidates, laying the ground for public apathy towards the October 23

Political analysts said the poll in each of Iran's 28 provinces could prove a
watershed in a struggle between reformist President Mohammad Khatami and
diehard conservatives.

``Today, everyone should try to hold lively elections so that the enemy would
be disappointed as in the past,'' Iranian television quoted Khamenei as
He accused Western media of spearheading an attack to demoralise voters.

``Which people are elected is of secondary importance,'' Khamenei said, adding
that factional disputes in the Islamic republic were ``differences among

Some 39 million Iranians aged 16 and over are eligible to vote, the daily Iran
quoted election officials as saying.

Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic republic since the death of the father
of the revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, said the enthusiastic
and wide voter presence was of the highest priority and could ensure the

Hours before Tuesday's announcement of candidates approved by the 12-man
Guardian Council of clerics and jurists, rival political factions faced off in
the streets of Tehran.

Some 3,000 pro-Khatami students held a rally near Tehran University to protest
against the Guardian Council's rejection of key moderate candidates. Police
intervened to break up clashes with a small group of hardliners after the

The newspaper Iran Daily said the clashes followed the distribution of copies
of a letter to Khatami by Ahmad Montazeri, son of dissident Ayatollah Hossein
Ali Montazeri, complaining about his father's house arrest.

Montazeri has been Iran's most prominent dissident since Khomeini dismissed
as his designated successor shortly before his death. He has lived under house
arrest since he questioned Khamenei's authority last year and said the supreme
leader should have a supervisory role and not absolute power.

Khamenei, who is widely believed to be closer to conservatives buried by the
Khatami landslide at last year's presidential election, commands a parallel
government which shadows the president's administration of moderate

He is commander-in-chief of Iran's 540,000-strong armed forces and controls
foreign policy, the judiciary and state media. His has the final say on all
matters of state.

Candidates for the election to the Assembly, which alone has the power to
appoint and dismiss the supreme leader, must be senior theologians with a
grasp of politics.

The list of approved candidates includes members of a pro-Khatami group of
leftist clerics but not some of its most prominent figures.

Among the missing names were those of Abdollah Nouri, an outspoken
vice-president, and Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, leader of students who stormed
the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 who is now publisher of the pro-Khatami
Islamic leftist daily Salam.

Only one candidate was approved in the holy city of Qom, cradle of the Shi'ite
Moslem faith in Iran and home of many seminaries and grand ayatollahs to whom
Shi'ites look for day- to-day spiritual and practical guidance.

None of the nine women, who were among the nearly 400 people who signed up to
run, were approved by the Guardian Council.

The Guardian Council has denied favouring fellow conservatives and said it
acted according to law in screening candidates.

A two-week election campaign is due to start on Thursday.

11:17 10-07-98


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 02:39:17 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran women's fight not feministic, says official

TEHRAN, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Iranian women's efforts to gain equal rights with
men would not fit into the Western notion of feminism, a presidential
adviser on women's affairs said on Wednesday.

``Our attitude towards women has fundamental differences from the extremist
Western trends under the title of feminism,'' Zahra Shojaei said at a news
conference, adding that Iranian women were nevertheless experiencing
unprecedented social and political activity.

Shojaei, who wears the traditional black chador used by many women in Iran,
said President Mohammad Khatami's government attached high importance to the
role of women in a comprehensive and sustainable development which would lead
to a civil society.

Women and the young voters had a key role in moderate Khatami's landslide
victory over conservatives last year.

``Except for the leadership, which is reserved for the male sex, there is no
limit to the positions women could hold in Iran,'' she said.

``Women participated in the Assembly of Experts elections...
and they have not been rejected because of their sex.''

Nine women signed up for the October 23 elections to the Assembly, which
names and has the power to dismiss Iran's supreme leader. Eight were
rejected by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council which screens
candidates. One withdrew.

A female foreign ministry official was quoted on Wednesday as saying that
Iran was to appoint a woman to serve on its United Nations mission in New

About 36 percent of government employees were women, the
president's adviser said. ``This excludes women who are involved
in agriculture.''

Shojaei said that there was no conflict between the women's movement and the
principles of Islam. ``We have constant contact with theologians and we
move in
line with Islam,'' she said.

``Should differences of opinion occur between theologians and us, we will
refer to the views of the Imam (the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini) or the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei).''

Both leaders have backed some reforms in the status of women in the Islamic
republic, in the face of opposition from arch-conservatives among senior
Shi'ite Moslem clergymen.

There is no restriction regarding women's sports as long as it is out of
men's sight, or with the observance of hejab, or the Islamic dress code,
she said.

11:53 10-07-98


Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 01:01:14 -0400
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: PEN: An open letter to president Khatami to protest the new wave of
attacks on the freedom of expression in Iran

October 8, 1998

PEN American Center
568 Broadway, Suite 401
New York, NY 10012
212/334-1660; 212/334-2181


Your Excellency,

As a worldwide organization of writers dedicated to protecting the
freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we have followed the
case of our Iranian colleagues with great concern since the first threats
against them over four years ago with the signing of the Declaration of

Our concern has mounted with each revelation of a new arrest or the
further clamp down on the fundamental right to freedom of expression as
demonstrated by the closure of countless dailies in the recent months.
Only last week we heard of the possible charges of "Moharab be khoda"
(enmity with God)- which carries the death penalty- leveled against the
editor-in-chief, license holder and two other staff members of Tous

We write now in response to reports on Friday October 2, 1998,
indicating the questioning of writers, Houshang Golshiri, Kazem
Kardevani, Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, Mansour Koushan and Mohammad
Mokhtari, in connection with their invitation to the surviving members of
the 134 writers, to attend a meeting scheduled for Thursday October 1,
1998. During this meeting, the members were to ratify the Constitution
of the Writers' Association. The aforementioned were warned by
authorities to cancel the
meeting and were called in for questioning by the Revolutionary Court.
Their release was subsequently followed by an official order to re-appear
in Court to give further explanations of their proposed gathering.

We are gravely concerned at what appears to be an intense campaign on the
part of the government to close down publications on spurious charges of
printing lies and articles threatening national security. In this light,
we fear that the latest developments affecting the above mentioned
writers stem from the belief that their association is an illegal covert
political organization. Of utmost concern to us at PEN is that national
security is being used as a pretext for the censorship of independent
papers and writers engaged in literary activity. If this is, in fact, the
case, we urge you to demonstrate your commitment to the rule of law and
the free flow of ideas in Iran by ensuring that the charges against the
Writers' Association are dropped, and that the writers are not only
permitted their right to freedom of assembly and association, but also
allowed to exercise this right without fear of reprisal. This would be an
essential first step toward establishing a society where writers and
artists can work freely without fear of harassment, and where creative
freedom can flourish.

For further information, please call Diana Ayton-Shenker at PEN American
Center (212) 334-1660, or fax (212) 334-2181

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 8 Oct 1998