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Iran's President lets CNN back

The American news network apologised for mistakenly quoting Ahmadinejad saying Tehran was seeking N-weapons.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 13:21 IST

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has allowed CNN to resume operating in the country after the American cable news network apologised for mistakenly quoting him saying Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons, state radio reported on Tuesday.

During CNN's live translation of a press conference by Ahmadinejad on Saturday, the president was quoted as saying that "we believe all nations are allowed to have nuclear weapons" and that the West should not "deprive us to have nuclear weapons".

The president was, however, using a Farsi word that meant "technology" and not "weapons".

On Monday Iran's culture ministry had issued the ban: "Taking into account CNN's actions contrary to professional ethics in the past years and their distortion of the president's comments during his press conference on Saturday, the activities of the CNN journalist in Tehran will end and no journalists from CNN will be authorised to come to Iran," the ministry said in a statement.

CNN said it was "very disappointed" by the ban, which it admitted was due to a translation error.

"CNN apologised on all its platforms which included the translation error, including CNN International, CNNUSA and CNN.com and also expressed its regrets to the Iranian Government and the Iranian ambassador to the UN," Nigel Pritchard, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement Monday from Atlanta, where CNN is based.

President Ahmadinejad wasted little time in accepting the apology.

"Taking into account the channel's apology, we are asking that the channel be authorised to resume its activities," he wrote in a letter to the culture minister.

Iran is facing the threat of being referred to the UN Security Council for resuming sensitive nuclear fuel research work, which the West fears would give the regime the know-how to build a bomb.

Iran insists such work is entirely legal given it has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has branded nuclear weapons "un-Islamic".

CNN does not have a permanent correspondent based in Tehran due to previous problems with Iranian authorities, notably several years ago when it broadcast images of an illegal party in Tehran where young people flouted regulations on dress and mixed with the opposite sex.

The channel's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, was in Iran Monday for a short visit.

But the mere fact she was granted a visa drew complaints from some hardline newspapers.

One newspaper also accused her of not adequately covering her head. In April 2005, the Qatar-based Arabic language news channel Al-Jazeera was thrown out of Iran on accusations it was stirring up ethnic violence in its coverage of clashes between ethnic Arabs and security forces in southwestern Iran.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 12:32 IST