Iran announced today that its newly elected parliament, which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has said would decide the fate of the 53 American hostages, will convene on May 28.
Ayatollah Mohammed Reza Mahdavi-Kani, the acting interior minister, said members of the new Islamic parliament would hold an inaugural session May 25, and then begin its business three days later. There was no indication when it would take up the issue of the U.S. hostages, held since Nov. 4.
Meanwhile, Khomeini said a coup d'etat against Iran's revolutionary regime was highly unlikely because the Iranian people were united. His remarks to the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards marked the first time he had publicly mentioned rumors of a coup.
His comments seemed intended to deflate alarmist talk about a coup that has fueled an increasingly bitter argument between President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr and his right-wing clerical rivals.
Khomeini said, "You cannot make a coup with a tiny number of opponents."
Several Iranian figures spoke out today as part of an apparent campaign to focus public attention on the new parliament's responsibility to find a solution to the hostage crisis.
Mansour Farhang, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations who is here to organize a conference in early June that will denounce U.S. interference in Iran, said, "Prolonging the hostage-taking will not work in Iran's favor."
Former foreign minister Ibrahim Yazdi suggested that "the United States must pay compensation" for the return of the hostages, "whether the shah is alive, or not, or extradited to Iran or not."
He said the United States had set the precedent itself by freezing I Iranian assets and allowing hostages' families to file damage suits against the Iranian government in American courts.
Meanwhile, Central Bank Governor Ali Reza Nobari announced that as of Thursday Iran will cut the link between its currency, the rial, and the dollar and tie it instead to the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights, a basket of 16 major currencies.
In Kurdistan, heavy fighting was reported in the town of Baneh near the Iraqi border between Kurdish guerrillas and Iranian soldiers in a beleaguered Army garrison.
Various reports said that Kurdish rebels had killed six soldiers with nighttime mortar fire at the airport at Sanandaj, the provincial capital evacuated by the guerrillas last week.
The newspaper Islamic Revolution reported that 31 women guerrillas -- including a senior leader of the Marxist Fedayan group -- had been arrested in Sanandaj and were to be transported to Tehran.