Settling Up

Iran pays a $420 million claim

When it comes to haggling about old debts, Iranian officials give no quarter. Not many dollars either. For two years they hobbled efforts of U.S. bankers and lawyers to settle claims arising from Iran's seizure of U.S. hostages in 1979. So last week, when Iran paid $420 million owed to the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the announcement prompted speculation that the country may be seeking warmer business relationships in the West. State Department officials, though, warned against expecting any improvement.

With its latest decision, Iran has agreed to payments of $896 million to U.S. banks from a $1.42...

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