Hollywood Group Visits Iran for 'Creative Exchange'

With the world still wary of Iran's plans for its nuclear program, the country is welcoming a band of unofficial cultural ambassadors from the U.S.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed to AFP on Friday that it had sent a group from Hollywood to Iran — emphasizing they are on a strictly cultural mission of creative exchange.

"I can confirm that a group of Academy members... are currently in Iran" on a "completely private initiative for educational and creative exchange and with no political agenda," AMPAS director for communications Leslie Unger told AFP.

Iranian media had reported that the delegation included the Academy's president, as well as actress Annette Bening, saying the group would hold meetings Saturday and Sunday in Tehran.

Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran have remained strained since Iran's Islamic revolution 30 years ago, in which the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed, setting off a prolonged hostage crisis.

Since then, the tension has focused increasingly on Iran's nuclear program, though President Obama has signaled he intends to form a new strategy for dealing with the country.