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US women's badminton team in Iran

Badminton racket and shuttlecock
Badminton follows wrestling in the latest bid to improve US-Iran relations

The United States is sending a women's badminton team to Tehran as part of an ongoing bid to engage with the Iranian people through cultural exchanges.

It comes as the US considers new approaches to Iran, and is the first such exchange between the two countries since President Obama took office.

Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic ties for nearly 30 years.

But cultural exchanges between the two nations began in 2006, under President George W Bush.

Artists and athletes

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has enforced strict dress codes requiring women to cover their hair and to hide the shape of their bodies in public.

But the eight US players are expected to wear their normal kits, as games will be restricted to female spectators.

"In the past two years, over 250 Iranians, including artists, athletes, and medical professionals, have participated in exchange programmes in the United States," the US state department said.

The state department said it hoped to extend an invitation to Iran's national badminton team to come to the United States in July.

Previously, the Iranian national teams for basketball, water polo, weightlifting, as well as men's and women's national table tennis teams have visited the United States.

Members of USA Wrestling have also travelled to Iran to take part in a competition.



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