Sunday, November 07, 2004

Visit of US Librarian to Iran 'not political'

IranMania News: "Visit of US Librarian to Iran 'not political'

Saturday, November 06, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 6 (IranMania) - The Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday that a visit to Iran by the chief of the US Library of Congress, James Billington, has nothing to do with politics.

“The visit took place at the invitation of the head of the National Library of Iran and within the framework of cultural cooperation between the two countries,” Hamid Reza Asefi told the Mehr News Agency.

“Since such visits are not political there is no ban on them,” Asefi stated, adding that such exchanges of visits are common.

-U.S., Iranian state libraries sign exchange accord in "non-political" act

The U.S. Library of Congress head has signed an agreement to exchange resources with the National Library of Iran during a visit to Tehran, the Iranian library's director said Friday.

"We signed a memorandum of understanding to exchange resources and experiences in library science, Islam and Iran," Mohammad Kazem Musavi Bojnurdi told AFP.

"Anyone who sees this cultural act as political is making a mistake," Bojnurdi said.

Bojnurdi said Billington "was not carrying any message and neither were we."

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday that Billington's trip had been approved by the White House and that he and his delegation had been briefed by the State Department before they left.

"We regard cultural and scientific issues as different from politics," explained Bojnurdi.

"Neither during (late supreme leader) Imam Khomeini's time nor the supreme leader's (Ali Khamenei) have we been told to limit ourselves scientifically and culturally," he said.

In May, an American delegation returned 300 ancient Iranian tablets held for more than 70 years to Iran's National Museum.

The repatriation of the antiquities marked the first such handover by the United States since 1979.

The U.S. national Library of Congress is the world's largest and its chief is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate."

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