However, Bush’s announcement came with word of advice for Tehran. ‘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 programme.’

The Iranian government welcomed the arrival of US specialists in the last days of 2003 to help with the rescue efforts in Bam. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said that the temporary lifting of certain sanctions was ‘positive’. ‘Naturally, the permanent and total lifting of the sanctions would introduce a new climate into the relations between the two countries.’ (MEED 29:12:03)