Iran General NewsRice praises Iran art exhibit, avoids politics

Rice praises Iran art exhibit, avoids politics

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Reuters: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday put aside U.S. political differences with Iran, taking in an art exhibit by Iranian artists that she said showed the country’s “great culture.” By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday put aside U.S. political differences with Iran, taking in an art exhibit by Iranian artists that she said showed the country’s “great culture.”

Rice received a personal tour of the exhibit and met some of the artists. Some of them declined to have their photograph taken with the top U.S. diplomat to avoid becoming part of the political tussle between Tehran and Washington.

“They are representing so well the great culture that Iran has, the great culture that goes back for so many centuries,” Rice told reporters. “The American people can see another side of Iran and see what the artists of Iran are doing.”

The exhibit, called “Wishes and Dreams: Iran’s New Generation Emerges,” is partly sponsored by the State Department.

The United States and other Western nations have accused Tehran of building a nuclear energy program as a cover for developing nuclear weapons, a charge Iran has denied. Washington also has accused Iran of meddling in Iraq.

Despite the accusations, the Bush administration has tried to build cultural and sporting ties with its people. Washington has invited a group of Iranian wrestlers to train in the United States for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Political decisions are made on a higher field than art,” artist Behnam Kamrani said through an interpreter. “We don’t want any kind of animosity between cultures.”

The exhibition by 30 artists, presented in conjunction with the Tehran University Art Gallery, will be on display in Washington until late July and then move to other U.S. cities through 2008, the State Department said.

The paintings ranged from an abstract called “Butterfly” done in acrylic to an oil canvas portrait of children entitled “When We were Both Alone.”

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