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Iranian Rally Marking Anniversary Of U.S. Hostage Crisis Has A Twist

Iranian women chant during a demonstration in front of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, marking the 1979 takeover just days ahead of a key meeting between the two nations' top diplomats over Iran's nuclear program.
Vahid Salemi

Three and a half decades after young Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and triggered a 444-day hostage crisis, calls of "Down with America!" again rang out on the streets outside the former U.S. mission.

So far, so predictable. But this year's rally featured an unusual twist, according to official media.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reports that the rally's final communique condemned America as an "oppressor power" that must be resisted.

But IRNA also reports that demonstrators in Tehran are demanding the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran — and specifically supporting the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S.

Hardliners in Iran have been suspicious of the nuclear talks that are coming up to a Nov. 24 deadline, warning their negotiators not to give up what they call Iran's nuclear rights. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said he's not optimistic that an agreement can produce anything worthwhile, but he has protected the negotiating team throughout the long-running discussions.

This weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Muscat, Oman, for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad-Zarif and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Diplomats from the so-called 5+1 countries — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are to continue the talks next week.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.
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