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Iranian Official Favors Dialogue with Israelis

Iran’s vice president says she supports a dialogue between the Israeli and Iranian people.

In what is apparently the first interview an Iranian political leader had given to an Israeli newspaper since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Yediot Achronot daily quoted Masoumeh Ebtekar as saying, “I support a dialogue between the Iranian and Israeli people, but it is still too early to speak of a political dialogue between Israel and Iran.”

The interview came at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Ebtekar also appeared to offer some flexibility regarding the Israeli- Palestinian peace process, which Iran has staunchly opposed. “The official position of Iran rejects the Oslo process and its results. At the same time, on this matter there is now new thought, unofficially, in many spheres of the Iranian regime. We understand this is a very complicated and delicate problem and we do not want to take a dogmatic position,” she told the paper.

Ebtekar was appointed vice president in August by President Mohammed Khatami, who is considered a relative moderate. Khatami earlier this year called for a dialogue between the American and Iranian people, but Iran’s spiritual leaders have not backed his calls.

Israel and Iran had defense and commercial ties until the Shah was overthrown in 1979.

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