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No US Congressional Visit Planned, says Iranian Official - 2004-02-01

Iran's foreign minister says his country has no plans to receive a U.S. congressional delegation later this month, contrary to statements by an American lawmaker that a visit to Tehran is in the works.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi told journalists that a visit by U.S. officials is not planned.

Mr. Kharazzi echoed statements by Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid-Reza Asefi, who also denied reports of an American congressional visit, saying such a visit has not been planned and is not on the agenda.

On Friday, Senator Arlen Specter announced that a group of congressional aides would make a trip to Iran in February and expressed hope that the meeting would lead to a future visit by U.S. lawmakers.

Mr. Specter said he was part of bipartisan group of legislators who arranged the visit last week, after meeting in Washington with Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Javad Zarif.

Washington broke diplomatic ties with Tehran shortly after Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979, and U.S. officials viewed the potential visit as an opportunity to begin to improve chilly relations.