TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran will send the United States 20 million barrels of crude oil to help it overcome the devastation of Hurricane Katrina if Washington waives trade sanctions, a senior Iranian oil official said.

In a gesture that mirrors American aid offers after a devastating 2003 earthquake in Iran, Tehran’s envoy to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said his government would ship up to 20 million barrels of oil to the United States, state radio reported late Tuesday.

“If U.S. sanctions are lifted, Iran is prepared to send that quantity of oil to America,” the radio quoted Hossein Kazempour as saying.

When asked about that report in Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “No, we haven’t received any direct contact from the Iranian government with an offer.

There were no signs that the U.S. policy toward Iran was about to change. Last week the Iranian Foreign Ministry offered to send relief supplies to the American Red Cross; Iranian newspapers reported that no response had been received.

Iran’s offers reciprocates the goodwill that the United States displayed after an earthquake flattened the southeastern Iranian city of Bam in 2003, killing more than 26,000 people.

The United States flew in emergency supplies, which were gratefully unloaded at an Iranian airport.

The Bam gesture did not, however, lead to an improvement in relations.

The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held its occupants hostage in 1979. Washington then imposed a range of sanctions on Iran.

The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism and secretly trying to build nuclear bombs – charges that Iran denies.

Hurricane Katrina has severely disrupted U.S. oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and reduced the country’s refining capacity by more than 10 percent.

McCormack said the United States has received offers of general assistance from more than 90 countries and organizations, including a Cuban offer of medical personnel.

Washington and Havana do not have diplomatic relations, and the United States has had trade sanctions on Cuba since 1963.

“In terms of Cuba, I understand that there has been an offer of medical personnel,” McCormack said. “I think it is an offer, along with some other offers of medical personnel, that we will continue to take a look at.”


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