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U.S. Official Cites Iran Turmoil

June 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has taken to the streets of Tehran in a ``strong backlash″ to students demonstrating against the country’s militant Islamic government, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.

Speaking at a media seminar, Martin Indyk said ``there is a good deal of turmoil going on there at the moment,″ with the guard debating the students.

Indyk said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would make ``groundbreaking″ remarks about Iran in a speech Wednesday night to The Asia Society in New York.

The Clinton administration has condemned Iran as a supporter of terrorism and tries to put economic pressure on Tehran. At the same time, some administration officials see a trend toward moderation in some statements by Mohammad Khatami, an obscure Muslim cleric elected president with 70 percent of the vote in May 1997.

Indyk, an assistant secretary of state, gave Iran mixed grades.

He said Iran was reaching out to its neighbors but also supporting terrorism and developing long-range missiles. Referring to Khatami statements offering to open contacts with the West, Indyk said ``the rhetoric has got to match policies; we want to see nice words reflected in their policies.″

On one front, at least, there will be more contact with Iran. Indyk said Iranian wrestlers would come to the United States next month. Iranian wrestlers were in Stillwater, Okla., for an international tournament.

The Clinton administration is trying to encourage a dialogue to end nearly two decades of hostility that followed the 1979 overthrow of the pro-Western Shah Reza Pahlavi and the takeover of the U.S. Embassy for 444 days.

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