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26 Jun, 2008 05:39

Washington seeks thaw with Iran

It’s almost 30 years since Iran and the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations over a year-long hostage crisis. Since then the countries have viewed each other with suspicion. But things could be set to change. Washington says it's considering re-establishin

Washington says the diplomatic presence will be in the form of a so-called ‘interest section’, which will give out visas and promote cultural links.

Some Iranians agree the move would help relations between the countries. Iran has been operating its own interest section in Washington for years.

Some residents in Tehran believe a similar centre there will help thaw relations between the countries.

“I think opening an American diplomatic section in Iran is a good idea and could bring Iran-U.S. relations closer unlike what is going on now. Having direct contact, instead of a third party or country intervening like they do at the moment, may let the two countries get closer to each other and sit at the negotiating table,” believes one of Tehran residents.

The nations severed diplomatic ties in the early 1980s after Iranian students took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two American diplomats were held hostage for more than a year. This was during Iran’s revolution which brought the Islamists to power.

Since then Washington and Tehran have talked in harsh tones.

The U.S. has labelled Iran a rogue state and claims it is developing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists it's enriching uranium for electricity production only.

The U.S., UN and EU have all imposed sanctions on Iran. Recently the European Union announced financial and travel restrictions for companies and individuals allegedly linked to Iran's nuclear programme.

As the dispute continues, the only U.S. presence people see in Iran is the former embassy in the capital.