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Bush Pleased About US Relief Efforts in Iran - 2004-01-02

President Bush says helping the survivors of the earthquake in Iran is the right thing to do. But he stresses his willingness to ease restrictions so American aid can get into Iran does not indicate a change in U.S. policy is in the offing. Mr. Bush says there are still conditions that must be met by Tehran.

President Bush says it is important to show the Iranian people that Americans care about human suffering. He says that is why his administration is taking steps to get help to those in need as quickly as possible.

But the president is quick to add that this does not indicate a change of heart regarding the government in Tehran.

He says Iran's leaders must listen to the voices of those who long for freedom, turn over al-Qaida terrorists in their custody, and abandon their nuclear weapons program.

The president spoke to reporters after a New Years Day hunting trip with family and friends in southern Texas. He said he is hopeful Iran will take the actions necessary to lead to a thaw in relations. The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in late 1979 after militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage for 444 days.