DUBAI (REUTERS) - Teheran city officials have ordered the removal of some posters featuring anti-American slogans, a sign that Iran is seeking better relations with the United States as the two sides hold talks over its nuclear programme.
A Teheran municipal official said some anti-American billboards had been put up illegally and that the city had taken them down, state news agency IRNA said on Saturday.
"In an arbitrary move, without the knowledge or confirmation of the municipality, one of the cultural institutes installed advertising billboards," said Hadi Ayyazi, spokesman for the municipality, according to IRNA. Mr Ayyazi did not specify which posters had been taken down.
According to IRNA, new anti-American posters questioning U.S. honesty had been put up in busy Teheran thoroughfares since last week, ahead of the Nov. 4 anniversary of the taking of hostages in the U.S. Embassy in 1979.
One such poster depicted an Iranian negotiator sitting at a table with a U.S. official who is wearing a suit jacket but also army trousers and boots, with a caption that reads, "American Honesty".
The banners implied that the real U.S. goal in negotiations is to attack Iran rather than find a diplomatic solution to the dispute over its nuclear programme.
It is unclear who was behind the posters, but hard-liners have expressed scepticism of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to engage with the West and the United States.
Anti-American graffiti and posters in prominent areas of Tehran and other major Iranian cities are common. The site of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, for instance, depicts the Statue of Liberty with a skull for a face.
The city's move sparked protest from some hard-liners, including the influential conservative Kayhan newspaper, which criticised the decision in a Sunday editorial.
"Obviously, the posters only warned of America's dishonesty," the editorial said. "Therefore, their removal is unjustifiable for the people whose blood has been shed and who have suffered the bitter taste of America's hostility for more than 30 years."