BUSH CALLS FOR IMPROVED TIES WITH IRAN

President Bush says that with the end of the Gulf war the United States wants to improve relations with Iran. ``We want better relations with Iran. We have no animosity. I don't think they should be treated forever as enemies by all the countries out in the Gulf Cooperation Council or others,'' he said in an interview with four Arab journalists.

Iran maintained neutrality during the Gulf war but has lately hinted it can live with defeated Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's ouster. It also demands the removal of US and coalition troops from the Gulf.

US-Iran relations have been strained ever since the 1979-81 hostage crisis when revolutionary Islamic students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and held American diplomats prisoners.

Washington, in retaliation for the hostage crisis, froze billions of dollars in Iranian assets registered in the US. Tehran has demanded the funds be released before bilateral relations can improve.

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