Forum Discusses Iranian Elections and Impact on U.S.-Iran Relations

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FORUM DISCUSSES IRANIAN ELECTIONS AND IMPACT ON U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

The Iranian Trade Association (ITA) and the American Iranian Council (AIC) co-sponsored a breakfast forum on Feb. 4, two weeks before the Iranian elections, at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. After welcoming remarks from Shahriar Afshar of ITA and John Radsan of AIC, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) talked about the changing political forces in Iran.

Ambassador Robert Pelletreau, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, gave a well-received keynote address. "In revolutionary Iran elections have been electrifying events," Pelletreau said. "They are playing a key role in bringing about an evolution of leadership and policy to reflect the changing aspirations of Iranian society."

After discussing why Iran is important to the Middle East and the United States, Pelletreau listed steps to lesson mutual hostility and work toward reconciliation. He suggested exchanging visits by elected representatives and relaxation of existing U.S. sanctions. This would support Iranian government efforts to improve civil aviation safety standards and efforts by Iranian cities to combat environmental pollution. Such Iranian exports as pistachios and carpets should again be allowed to enter the U.S., and food and medical exports in the other direction should be eased. The U.S. should also prepare a fact sheet detailing Iranian money and assets frozen in U.S. banks and the U.S. should welcome Iranian visitors with valid visas without the humiliating practice of fingerprinting.

Lowering the rhetoric on both sides and cooperating in fighting terrorism would also be helpful, Pelletreau concluded. …