Friday, June 25, 2004

Mohammad Reza Bahonar open to talks with the US

IranExpert:Iran conservative open to US parliamentary talks: "Iran conservative open to US parliamentary talks

A prominent conservative tipped as a possible new head of the Iranian parliament says he is open to eventual talks with US legislators after the expected rout of reformists in elections here Friday.

Mohammad Reza Bahonar, one of the top three politicians in the country's religious right wing, also denied plans to impose puritanical Islamic rule on Iran after the polls, but signaled a tough line against truculent reformists. Bahonar made his remarks in an interview Wednesday with AFP as he campaigned in his native town of Kerman in southeastern Iran, whose two Majlis seats are presently held by reformers.

With the conservative camp expected to recapture the 290-seat legislature handily, Bahonar stressed an open, pragmatic approach to issues such as US relations or the obligation for women to wear a veil. 'The question of relations with the United States is not all black and white. There is an entire range of grey between the two,' he said. 'If there is a desire (from Washington) to build trust, we can move from dark grey to lighter grey. But for the moment, there is no trust.'

Iranian officials nixed a recent effort to organise a visit by a US congressional delegation to Iran while the reformers held parliament. But Bahonar did not rule out eventual talks between legislators of both sides. 'Dialogue is not bad "

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