Hostage solution in sight, Iranian official hints

The powerful secretary of Iran's ruling Revolutionary Council, ayatollah Muhammad Beheshti, said Wednesday there was some movement toward a solution of the Us-Iran crisis over the American hostages held here. But he said it might take weeks, rather than days, to solve the dispute over the captives, held since Nov. 4 at the US Embassy in Tehran.

The remark followed a conciliatory statement Tuesday night by Foreign Minister Sadeq Ghotbzadeh after a Revolutionary Council meeting in which he praised UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.

Elsewhere in Tehran, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated to celebrate an Islamic holy day, answering a call by Iran's clergy for countryside protests against what they called american and Soviet imperialism.

In the northwestern city of Tabriz, supporters of the dissident Ayatollah, Sayed Kazem Shariat-Madari, clashed with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an first reports spoke of casualties and damage in widespread arson.

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