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US and Iran: decades of bad blood

24 Jun 2009 3:54 AM

WASHINGTON, June 23 AFP - Key events in ties between Iran and the United States:

- 1953: Iran's nationalist prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq, is overthrown in a coup engineered by US and British intelligence services.

Western powers subsequently support the pro-US monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose rule is backed up by a widely feared secret police.

- 1979: The shah is forced to flee the country in the face of a popular revolt which leads to the creation of an Islamic republic.

- In November, militant students storm the US embassy in Tehran and take all 63 staff members hostage in a siege that lasts 444 days. The US imposes sanctions on Iran.

- April 1980: With the hostage crisis continuing, the United States severs diplomatic relations with the Islamic regime. They remain ruptured.

- September 1980: Then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invades Iran, sparking a devastating conflict that lasts eight years. The United States tacitly backs Iraq.

- 1988: In the final days of the Iran-Iraq war, a US warship shoots down an Iranian passenger plane over the Gulf, killing all 290 people aboard.

- 2001: Following the attacks of September 11 the United States leads an invasion of Afghanistan, which borders Iran.

- January 29, 2002: Then US president George W. Bush identifies Iran, along with North Korea and Iraq, as an "axis of evil".

- 2003: A US-led invasion of Iraq brings American and British troops to Iran's long border with that country. But it also empowers Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority population, natural allies of Iran.

- 2005: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an anti-Western hardliner, wins a presidential election in Iran, prompting concern in Washington.

- 2006: Ahmadinejad writes to Bush setting out his vision for ending the conflict. The overture is laughed off by the White House.

- 2007: The United States repeatedly accuses Iran of arming groups that are fighting its forces in Iraq. In May, the two countries hold direct talks on the situation in Baghdad.

- 2009:

January: New US President Barack Obama says that "if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us".

- February: Ahmadinejad says his country is prepared for dialogue "in a climate of equality and mutual respect".

- June 20: Amid demonstrations over Iran's disputed presidential election Obama calls for the rights of peaceful protesters to be respected, and urges Tehran to avoid unjust and violent actions towards its people.

- June 21: Ahmadinejad demands the United States and Britain stop meddling in Iran's affairs.

- June 23: In some of his toughest comments yet on the Iran crisis, Obama strongly condemns the crackdown on protests and denies the US is interfering.