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OFFICIALS NOTE EFFORTS TO BETTER TIES WITH IRAN

The Clinton administration has made several small gestures toward Iran and eased off its customary anti-Tehran rhetoric as part of an effort to improve relations, officials said Thursday.

State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the administration recently gave permission to Iran's top diplomat at the United Nations to give a speech in Los Angeles. Another official said such overtures were quite rare.

In addition, the administration granted a visa to the director of women's affairs in Iran so she could deliver a speech in Washington.

Rubin summarized the state of U.S.-Iranian relations in comments notably devoid of the traditional emphasis on the areas of disagreement such as U.S. allegations of Iranian support for terrorism, development of weapons of mass destruction and efforts to undermine the Middle East peace process.

Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was no accident that these issues were omitted from Rubin's remarks. The official said, however, that the United States continues to be concerned about these aspects of suspected Iranian behavior.

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