US and Iran haven't had official diplomatic relations since 1979 but technically speaking there has been a small US interests section in the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. This Iran expert says that office provides only the most basic services to Americans in Iran and the interest section is staffed by Swiss diplomats, not Americans, unlike the new proposed US interest section. That would be a big change for the US and that Iran expert notes there's an Iranian interest section in the US. the Iran expert says the lack of US interests in Iran makes it much harder for Iranians applying for visas to the US. it's not just bureaucratic hurdles, and there's plenty of diplomatic difficulties in the relationship between Iran and the US, but there are signs that the Bush administration is shifting its tactics. This analyst says it's probably not a coincidence that discussion of a US interest section is happening at the same time that a US negotiator is meeting with Iranians in Geneva. Still some observers suggest the US should proceed with caution when it comes to any kind of agreement with Iran. The State Department hasn't yet confirmed plans to open a US interest section in Iran, but today Iran's Foreign Minister said it would be open to the idea.
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