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US opens door for Iran student exchange in Nowruz message | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Kerry said he had called Russia’s foreign minister to express U.S. concerns over military activity in Crimea that could further inflame tensions in Ukraine following the ouster of its Russian-backed president. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a new conference in London on March 14, 2014. (REUTERS/Sean Dempsey/pool)

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a new conference in London on March 14, 2014. (REUTERS/Sean Dempsey/pool)

Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—The US Treasury Department has lifted some of the restrictions on Iranian students and universities as Iran celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The removal of these restrictions could lead to student exchanges between the two countries.

Under a new General License issued by the US Treasury Department, US universities can enter student exchanges with Iranian universities, as well as provide some educational services to Iranian individuals and institutions. The license also allows US finance, credit and currency exchange institutions to conduct financial transfers for educational and student exchanges that are in accordance with the new license.

The new General License “will enhance educational ties between Iran and the United States through exchanges and the provision of new opportunities for Iranians to study in our country,” the festive message said.

In reference to the new license, Kerry’s message said: “On this Nowruz, we reaffirm our belief that strengthening cultural and academic ties between our two countries benefits our two peoples.”

The license issued by the US Treasury Department is not a cancellation of the previous sanctions issued against Iran, and it explicitly stipulates that it does not contravene previous legislation.

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 world powers agreed that financial aid for Iranian students abroad would be considered. Under the agreement signed by Iran, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, the parties would work to secure a financial channel to enable Iran to make payments for humanitarian transactions, medical expenses and university tuition payments for Iranian students studying abroad.

Meanwhile, Obama sent his own Nowruz message to the Iranian people, expressing his wish, in light of the ongoing nuclear negotiations, that there could be a new relationship between the two countries—if Iran “meets its international obligations”—and that “Iran could begin to return to its rightful place among the community of nations.”