MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ After denouncing Western
oil companies as agents of Satan for more than a decade, Iran
is wooing them back to rebuild its rundown oil industry and
bankroll an economic revival.
An extraordinary three-day energy conference hosted by
the state-run National Iranian Oil Co. in the central city of
Isfahan provided one of the clearest signals yet that Tehran is
trying to emerge from prolonged isolation.
The conference was attended by 300 delegates from the
international oil industry, including the Caltex Corp. and
The Iranians and Chevron emissaries were negotiating
development of offshore oil fields.
A few years ago the presence of American oil executives at
a conference in Iran would have been unthinkable. Now, it
appears to be the shape of things to come, if President
Hashemi Rafsanjani has his way.
It is also a barometer of his efforts to soften the puritanical
strictures of the 1979 Islamic revolution, when the pro-
Western shah was overthrown and oil interests were
nationalized. Western companies dominated Iran's oil
industry before the revolution.
A senior government petroleum official disclosed during
the conference that the Iranians were talking with other U.S.
companies to import Iranian oil for the first time since 1987,
when President Reagan embargoed Iranian crude.
In addition, the Iranians and Chevron were said to be
negotiating development of offshore oil fields.
Earlier this year, the national oil company reached
agreement with two leading U.S. petroleum companies,
Coastal Corp. and Mobil Corp., to sell them oil for
distribution outside the United States.
"A new order is gradually emerging, in which economic
considerations overshadow political considerations," Fore-
ign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, one of Rafsanjani's key
aides, told the conference before it ended Wednesday.
Rafsanjani, leader of Tehran's so-called moderates, has
been building relationships with the West and Iran's Arab
neighbors since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country's
revolutionary patriarch, died in June 1989.
His aim is to shed Iran's pariah status and attract badly
needed foreign investment and Western technology. …