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US Ignores Iranian’s Angry Words

January 20, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department brushed aside hostile comments about the United States by Iran’s president and renewed its call for a dialogue with that country.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, speaking to a large gathering Monday night in Tehran, accused the United States of having damaged Iranian ``freedom, independence, interests and glory.″

``In today’s world,″ he said, ``we do not need the United States to come close to us and help us. Without the U.S., we can go ahead as we have been going ahead.″

His comments marked a contrast in tone from remarks earlier this month when he praised American civilization and America’s founding fathers and recommended cultural exchanges to ease mistrust.

Asked about Khatami’s comments on Tuesday, State Department spokesman James P. Rubin noted that the United States has heard from Iran both encouraging words and criticism in recent days.

``Obviously, we believe our concerns are justified, and we would bring them to the table in a dialogue between our two governments,″ he said. ``Iran could raise the subjects it wants.″

Ultimately, he said, U.S. policy toward Iran will be affected by change in Iranian actions of concern to the rest of the world.

``We would respond appropriately if there is such a change,″ he said.

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