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Iran, Other Nations Press Interests in U.S.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images
The government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spent $12,000 in the first half of 2010 for public relations help in the U.S.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decidedly frosty relations with the U.S. government, but he apparently still wants the scoop on hot policy issues here.

Iran paid Mark Edmond Clark of New York $12,000 in the first half of last year for public relations work that entailed providing “semi-monthly oral reports on U.S.-Iran relations,” according to filings with the Justice Department.

The filings also reveal that Clark was responsible for the “formulation of policy options and met with U.S. policy experts to discuss issues concerning U.S. policy on Iraq and Iran.”

The details about Clark, who reported to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations New York, were tucked into the recently released semiannual report by the Justice Department of filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The report documents lobbying, legal and public relations activities of 545 foreign entities for the first six months of 2010.

Predictably, the list is filled with lobbying efforts by high-profile governments in the world’s trouble spots, such as Africa and the Middle East, which have snapped up Washington, D.C.’s blue-chip firms to make their case on Capitol Hill and with the White House.

But the document also includes activities of smaller entities ranging from Caribbean resorts to foreign cultural offices and political activists seeking influence either in Washington or elsewhere in the country.

While weighty issues such as war and trade dominate international diplomacy, the French are endeavoring to woo Americans with movies.

The French Film Office spent more than $235,000 over the six-month period ending Jan. 31, 2010, promoting its pictures around the U.S., underwriting a flurry of viewings and receptions.

The office, part of uniFrance USA, described its activities in its Justice Department filings as “the promotion of French films in the United States and the gathering of commercial information concerning general interest in the market for French films in the United States.”

Last year the office supported films at venues across the country including the Rendez-Vous With French Cinema in New York, the Richmond (Va.) French Film Festival and French Cinema Now in San Francisco.

Officials in the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands want lobbyists to do more than just vacation there. The island government has retained public relations and law firms to improve its image with Members of Congress who have been critical of the islands’ reputation as an offshore tax haven.

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