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Mon 18 Aug 2008 12:15 AM

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Iran says no permit for Chris de Burgh concert

Culture ministry says no request made following Irish crooner's private May visit.

Iran said it has not authorised a concert by Irish crooner Chris de Burgh, in what would have been a first in the Islamic republic, the official news agency IRNA reported on Sunday.

"No request has been made for a Chris de Burgh concert and, as a result, no authorisation has been granted," the culture ministry's music department said in a statement carried by IRNA.

In May, de Burgh visited Iran and expressed hope he would become the first Western pop star to perform in the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution.

The 59-year-old, known for his soft rock ballads such as "Lady in Red," had been hoping to stage a series of concerts this autumn for Iranian fans.

De Burgh has been invited by the Taraneh Sharghi music production company, whose leading pop band, Arian, has recorded a song called "The Words I Love You" with de Burgh in a mix of English and Persian.

Arian in 1999 was the first Iranian pop band after the revolution to receive a permit to perform in public. All recordings and concerts in Iran require a permit from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to be legal.

Taraneh Sharghi manager Mohsen Rajabpour said at the time that he had obtained oral permission for the planned concerts.

Western pop music has been frowned upon by Iranian cultural officials who apply tough vetting on music, films and books.

And there has been a tougher screening since the conservative government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, vowing to revive Iran's anti-Western revolutionary ideals.

Tensions are high between Iran and the West over Tehran's refusal to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment operations - which some countries fear could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

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