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Iran proposes resuming direct US flights
Updated: 2006-01-27 09:05

Iran's Civil Aviation Organization said Thursday it has proposed resuming direct flights between Iran and the United States after more than 25 years, despite political hostilities between the two countries.

Raza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the aviation organization, said Iranians living in the United States had asked for the flights when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited New York to attend a U.N. meeting in September, and the Iranian leader directed the organization to consider the request.

"On Wednesday, we sent a letter to the head of the civil aviation in the United States declaring our readiness" to resume direct flights, Jafarzadeh said.

There was no immediate response from the United States.

Iran and the United States severed air links when Washington broke relations in 1979 after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held the occupants hostage.

Iran's proposal comes amid an international impasse over a U.S.-backed push to bring the country before the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program. The United States suspects Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons, a claim Tehran denies.

Jafarzadeh acknowledged the proposal stood in contrast to the prevailing political tensions between the two countries, but said: "It was just an answer to a demand by passengers who found their luggage was being damaged at various connection points on the way to the United States."

About 1 million Iranians live in the United States, mostly in California. Thousands fly to Iran every year, often changing planes in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

"Iran plans to resume flights to both New York and Los Angeles," Jafarzadeh said. "Iranian and foreign airlines, including American ones, could fly the routes."

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