House Speaker Jim Wright urged the Reagan administration Tuesday to apologize directly to Iran and pay reparations for shooting down a passenger jet carrying 290 people. An Iranian official said world condemnation of the United States might ease talk of military retaliation.
Wright, speaking less than 24 hours after President Reagan vowed to keep U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf despite Iran's threats of reprisals, predicted that Capitol Hill would authorize money for reparations."If that would assuage the grief of the other aggrieved party, surely we could do that," he said in London. "Congress would support that if it were requested."
The senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner of Virginia, also said the United States should
In Geneva, meanwhile, Sirous Nasseri, the Iranian ambassador to the U.N. mission there, said, "So far as the avenge is concerned, at this stage we really hope there will be public opinion, we will let the public opinion and the political activities to run its course.
"And we hope that the matter can ease itself down through a proper approach to the matter, that is, the condemnation of the act by the United States," Nasseri said in an interview on the NBC-TV "Today" show.
Iran's revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said Monday that "we must all be prepared for a real war and go to the war fronts and fight against America and its lackeys."
And Tuesday in Tehran, Iranian President Ali Khamenei said that the Islamic Republic has the "right to avenge" those who died when Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down Sunday by missiles fired from the U.S. Navy cruiser Vincennes, whose crew thought it was shooting at an F-14 fighter about to attack the ship.
Tehran radio, monitored in Nicosia, said that Khamenei told world leaders in messages that the disaster "has roused a wave of rage" in Iran "and aversion to the U.S. gov-ernment."
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Tuesday he could not say whether the United States had apologized directly to Iran through private communications or other means.
Wright, interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corp., noted that Reagan had expressed regret for the loss of innocent lives but "is not given to profuse apologies in any event." Asked if he ought to be, the Texas Democrat replied, "Yes, he should be."
"We close ranks, so please don't ask me to try to correct the language of the president," he said. "I'm just stating as a matter of fact that Mr. Reagan is not given to acknowledging error. It's a personal trait, he's gone as far as I've ever heard him go, and he has expressed his deep regret as president of the United States."