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Bush Says Iran Earthquake Aid Not A Thaw In Relations

Washington, 2 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has said a decision to help Iran after its devastating earthquake did not signal a thaw in relations with Tehran.

Bush said easing U.S. restrictions on transferring aid to Iran was "the right thing to do." But Bush said Tehran needed to do more if it wanted better ties with Washington.

"What we're doing in Iran is we're showing the Iranian people the American people care, we've got great compassion for human suffering, and ease restrictions in order to be able to get humanitarian aid into the country. The Iranian government must listen to the voices of those who long for freedom, must turn over Al-Qaeda that are in their custody, and must abandon their nuclear weapons program," Bush said.

Bush was speaking on the day a memorial service was held for the victims of the 26 December earthquake in Bam. Up to 30,000 died in the quake.

Amid the gloom, there was a bit of good news out of Bam yesterday. Yadollah Saadat was pulled alive from the rubble, six days after the quake. The 26-year-old was saved by a wardrobe that had fallen on him protecting him from falling debris.

UN officials say about 40,000 people are now left in Bam, most spending the nights in tents.