TORONTO -- Canada resumed normal diplomatic relations with Iran but refused to meet Iranian demands that it apologize for smuggling six Americans to freedom in the so-called 'Canadian Caper' of 1980.
Canadian officials, in announcing the moveMonday, did not indicate the development was related to Iran's surprise acceptance of a U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Persian Gulf war.
External Affairs Minister Joe Clark announced in Ottawa his Conservative government and the government of Iran agreed to resume relations as of Monday and the two countries will exchange ambassadors within a year.
Canada never officially cut diplomatic relations with Iran, but pulled its staff out of Tehran and shut down its embassy after helping the six Americans escape in late January 1980.
Iranian revolutionaries seized the U.S. Embassy Nov. 4, 1979, and took 66 hostages, not including the Americans who were hidden for more than two months by Kenneth Taylor, then Canada's ambassador to Iran, and a colleague. The six Americans then fled Iran using Canadian passports.
The hostages held at the embassy eventually were released, with the last 52 freed Jan. 20, 1981, in Tehran after 444 days in captivity.
Canadian officials said the countries sought normal ties for years, but restoration of relations was delayed by Iran's demand that Canada apologize for the 1980 caper.
There was no apology in the agreement negotiated over the past two months in Ottawa between officials in Clark's department and Iran's charge d'affaires.
'They had indicated to us on those occasions that, yes, they wanted a more normal relationship but first Canada must apologize for its involvement in the departure of some of the Americans,' said an official with Clark's department. 'There were no conditions. There was no apology. That was not an action that we felt the least bit apologetic.'
Officials said Canada hoped to have a charge d'affaires in Tehran by Oct. 15 and appoint an ambassador within a year. Iran pulled its ambassador from Ottawa in 1980 but left a charge d'affaires in the Canadian capital.
In efforts to reduce its international isolation, Iran this year restored diplomatic ties with France and agreed to mutual compensation for embassy claims with Britain.