"Blessed are the peacemakers"
Iran lawmakers seek U.S. friendship
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian deputies were gathering signatures to try and form an Iranian-U.S. friendship committee in parliament to hold contacts with the U.S. Congress, legislators involved in the effort said Tuesday.
It was the first effort organized by parliament to find a way to bridge nearly three decades of estrangement between the U.S. and Iran. It comes days after the governments of the two countries agreed to hold direct talks on one of the main issues dividing them — the conflict in Iraq.
Darioush Ghanbari, one of at least 10 deputies who has signed the document calling for the establishment of the committee, said Iranian parliamentarians were seeking to reduce tensions with America and "explain Iran's realities to the U.S. Congress."
The document had signatures from both conservatives and reformists and more signatures from the 290-member legislature were expected by the end of the day, Ghanbari said.
"In the absence of formal diplomatic relations, we seek to establish a parliamentary relationship with the U.S. Congress and fill the existing gap of contacts between the two nations," Ghanbari, a pro-reform lawmaker, told The Associated Press.
No specific number of deputies is required to form such a committee. The document signed by lawmakers will be presented to the parliament's speaker, who has the right to accept or reject it.
It was unclear what he would do. ...