Iran to Pay Incentives to Attract Tourists

Iran will offer cash incentives to travel agencies to encourage Western tourists to visit the country, giving a premium for Americans, the official Islamic Republic News Agency and the AP reported. The Islamic republic's political leadership has been trying to reach out to ordinary Americans to show that a standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions is with the Bush administration—not U.S. citizens. The latest initiative comes as the United Nations Security Council deliberates a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran for its disputed nuclear program. Visitors from other countries would earn travel agents $10 per tourist. Last week, Iran's fiercely anti-U.S. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed opposition to a bill that would require Americans to be fingerprinted on arrival in Iran. The bill, which passed a preliminary reading in the Iranian parliament earlier this month, was drafted by conservatives who sought to retaliate for U.S. requirements that Iranian visitors be fingerprinted. It has not been debated yet. In an earlier attempt to reach out to Americans, Ahmadinejad in January proposed the resumption of direct commercial flights between Iran and the United States, which were halted more than 25 years ago.

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