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US Sends Quake Relief to Iran - 2002-07-02


A U.S.-chartered cargo plane carrying U.S. government-supplied aid to Iranian earthquake victims has landed in Iran, in a humanitarian gesture between countries that severed diplomatic ties more than two decades ago.

A U.N. spokesman in Iran says the DC-10 plane arrived Tuesday in Tehran, carrying water purification systems, blankets and hygiene kits. The aid is earmarked for thousands of people left homeless when an earthquake struck northwestern Iran June 22. There were no American nationals aboard the relief flight.

The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, is delivering the material to Iran's Interior Ministry for distribution in Qazvin province. The region, which is 200 kilometers west of Tehran, was ravaged 10 days ago by an earthquake that killed more than 200 people and left more than 12,000 others homeless.

Tehran and Washington have not had diplomatic relations since 1980. But last week, the government of President Mohammad Khatami said it would accept humanitarian aid offers from all countries, including the United States.

Tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic escalated early this year when President Bush labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil" for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction. Iran has rejected the allegations.

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