From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Mon Dec 08 1997 - 09:55:22 PST

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                              Old foes gathering in Tehran
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press
       TEHRAN, Iran (December 8, 1997 11:11 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) --
       Former foes began arriving in Tehran on Monday for a three-day Islamic
       summit, demonstrating a growing acceptance of Iran by its Arab
       neighbors. The meeting of the 55-member Organization of the Islamic
       Conference, which begins Tuesday, is the largest gathering of foreign
       leaders in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
       Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's arrival at Mehrabad Airport marked the
       first visit by a high-ranking Saudi leader since the revolution. It
       follows almost a year of diplomatic efforts to improve ties between Iran
       and Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally and the world's largest oil exporter.
       Iranian President Mohammad Khatami kissed Prince Abdullah on both cheeks
       in a traditional greeting and escorted him along a red carpet to a stand
       where the Saudi anthem was played.
       Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed Al-Sabah of Kuwait made his first visit to Iran.
       Kuwait opposed Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Then, Kuwait was
       one of Iraq's biggest financial backers, and Iran's revolutionary
       government was regularly vowing to export its revolution to other Muslim
       Iraq, too, sent a delegation to the conference. Vice President Taha
       Yassin Ramadan is the highest-ranking Iraqi to visit Tehran since the
       1991 Persian Gulf War.
       Asked about the possibility of normalizing relations with Tehran, he
       said: "We have this wish ... that we find the same attitude with the
       friends and brothers in Iran."
       Lebanese President Elias Hrawi -- the only Christian head of state at
       the summit -- and Lebanon's Muslim prime minister, Rafik Hariri, also
       arrived. Looking frail, Hrawi was helped on to a platform by Khatami.
       The only hitch came during Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's arrival.
       When Iranian security men tried to stop Arafat's bodyguard from getting
       into a car with him, the guard shoved them and was pushed back. The
       Iranians relented, allowing him to get in.
       The summit follows a two-day meeting of Muslim foreign ministers, who
       approved 140 resolutions for consideration during this week's meeting.
       The ministers condemned military cooperation with Israel in an apparent
       slap at Turkey, which signed two such agreements in 1996.
       With Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and other American allies present, the
       delegates stopped short of denouncing U.S. policies.

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