|The United States plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by the U.S. President George W. Bush, a British newspaper said on Thursday.
Washington would open a U.S. interests section in the Iranian capital, halfway towards opening an embassy, the Guardian said.
"The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a U.S. interests section - a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see U.S. diplomats stationed in the country," the newspaper wrote.
The news of the shift by Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to Iran throughout his tenure comes at a critical time in US-Iranian relations. After weeks that have seen tensions rise with Israel conducting war games and Tehran carrying out long-range missile tests, a thaw appears to be under way.
Washington said on Wednesday it was sending Senior U.S. diplomat William Burns to join atomic talks with Iran this weekend to signal to Tehran and others that Washington wanted a diplomatic solution to their nuclear impasse.
Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful power generation, and not for the development of nuclear weapons as the West suspects, and has rejected conditions it give up uranium enrichment.
On Sunday, President Amhmoud Ahmadinejad suggested Iran would consider any proposal by the United States for a U.S. interests section in the Islamic Republic, should one be forthcoming.
The United States cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, in which a group of militant Iranian students held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage at the American embassy for 444 days.