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US Pledges $300,000 to Iran for Disaster Relief

The United States is giving Iran about $300,000 worth of relief after the earthquake last Saturday that killed hundreds of people. President Bush made the offer and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami accepted despite the lack of political relations between the two countries.

Officials here are claiming no political breakthrough in connection with the earthquake aid, but it does nonetheless reflect a measure of goodwill in a relationship that has been frozen since the break in official ties after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. contribution will include two water-purification systems, portable water storage tanks, and thousands of blankets and personal hygiene kits. He said the arrangements with Iran were made indirectly through the United Nations.

"Obviously the U.N. and we, and the U.N. and the Iranians, are in consultation to make sure that what we can provide, what we have, is what they need, fits the bill," Mr. Boucher said.

President Bush made the aid offer in a statement of condolence on the earthquake last Saturday, saying the United States stood ready to help the Iranian people and that human suffering knows no political boundaries. In a trip to the stricken region on Tuesday, President Khatami said Iran would accept aid without conditions from the United States or anyone else, saying "help is help."