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Iran FM spokesman: Closure of NCRI offices in US "positive step"

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi termed Monday the US measure in closing down offices of terrorist National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as a positive step, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Speaking to foreign and domestic reporters at his weekly press briefing, Asefi said the US action in connection with the Mujahedeen group is in the framework of the responsibilities of Washington government.

"This measure is a positive step which should apply to other countries where the United States and the Mujahedeen group are present including Iraq," he said.

The United States had recognized Mujahedeen as a terrorist group in the past, said the spokesman, adding "It is natural that the US adopt such a measure."

"The US should treat Mujahedeen very harshly in Iraq to complete its measures in this respect," he said.

Asked about Iran-US relations in light of the US action on the NCRI, Asefi said, "The condition of relations is dependent on whether the Americans reach a new approach and consensus inside their country to work with Iran."

"If such consensus exists in the United States and we see positive and serious signs towards the relations, conditions inside the country will also change," he added.

The United States on Friday shut down the offices of the terrorist National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), after US Secretary of State Colin Powell clarified that the terrorist People's Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO) was to be banned under all its aliases.

The order also freezes the group's US assets and bars US citizens from making contributions to it, US officials said.

Pointing to the Zionist regime's threats against Iran's nuclear activities, Asefi said, "We hope the Zionist regime would avoid adventurism."

"This regime has showed that it is an adventurist regime and is committed to no legitimate principle," he said.

"The Zionist regime will pay a heavy cost if it commits such a mistake," the spokesman stressed.

Asefi says Argentine court's ruling against Iranians is invalid

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said in Tehran on Monday that that a ruling issued by an Argentine court against Iranians is null and void as it is politically motivated and not based on judicial procedures.

Asefi said at his weekly press conference that Tehran is following up through diplomatic channels the ruling that had been dictated by Zionist regime in line with its interests.

He said an Israeli daily had written on Monday that Israeli officials were in touch with Argentine officials urging a series of measures against Iran.

He, however, declined to name the Israeli daily.

He added that the unskilled move by an Israeli daily fully confirms Iran's claims that Zionist regime is behind the events.

"The rulings are null, void and unacceptable; principally, issuance of such verdicts by district courts would result in international anarchy; any court anywhere on the world willing to issue such verdicts would disrupt the state of judicial proceedings and international relations," he added.

Asked to comment on reports that an Iranian had been tried in Germany on espionage charges, Asefi said Iranian Embassy is following up the issue to get the details.

He said Iran is also following the case of Soheil Karimi and Saeed Aboutaleb, the two documentary makers of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Broadcasting (IRIB) who were arrested by the US while filming in southern Iraq on July 1.

He added that the success in corresponding and meeting with the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a step forward but is not sufficient and they should be released soon.

The official said Tehran would continue following the issue and exerting pressure through diplomatic channels, hoping that the US would relinquish obstinacy and seeking excuses and release the dear ones soon.

Asefi also commented on sluggish pace of Afghans' repatriation and it would be natural to seen falling rate of Afghans' repatriation due to security problems and their country's reconstruction drive.

He hoped for higher repatriation rate for Afghans.

Asked whether Iran would call on the US and Britain to apologize for the August 1953 coup, Asefi said the coup, of which Iranians have a bitter memory, indicates that some states, including the US, allow themselves to interfere in other states' destiny.

He said that however, it was the people who eventually decided their fate and it is hoped to be an eye-opener for big states so as not to interfere in other countries' destiny and internal affairs.

Concluding his statements, Asefi cautioned the public to refrain from visiting the holy sites in Iraq unless officially notified.

Asefi: Foreign presence will not guarantee Caspian Sea's security

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said in Tehran on Monday foreign presence would not guarantee the security of the Caspian Sea region and of littoral states but, rather, would only further complicate the situation.

"We believe that regional security and interests can be guaranteed by increased understanding, conference and collaboration," said Asefi at his weekly press conference when asked to comment on the Azerbaijan-US joint military exercises on the coast of the Caspian Sea.

Asefi said Iran has asked Azerbaijan through official channels to explain its moves in the region considering the contradictory views on the issue.

As for Sunday's statement of the Secretary General of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rowhani that Iran had managed to crack down on Al-Qaeda terror plots, Asefi said that Iran was fortunate enough to identify such plots and the groups behind them against Iran. He, however, declined to unveil the true of the conspiracies due to what he called "security reasons."

Obviously, those who commit offenses in Iran should be tried in Iranian territory, the foreign minister spokesman further said.

Asked whether the arrested members of the group would be extradited to their countries of origin considering Rowhani's stance on the issue, Asefi said: "They are are different categories. Some have committed offenses in Iran and should naturally be tried but some have not."

He stressed that just as countries differ in their response to responsibilities and Iran has always come up to its responsibilities in the past, "not all people are in the same position. Their status also differ," he said.

Asked whether additional Al-Qaeda group members have been arrested in Iran over recent days, Asefi said he has no information, adding that he did not imagine anything could have happened in recent days either.

Asefi said the arrests took place a long time ago and has attracted the foreign media considerably. He said more information would be unveiled on the issue when necessary.

As for the discovery of enriched uranium in Iran, Asefi said the media had carried the news quoting diplomats. He said these diplomats did not have the right to comment on the highly technical and expert-level issue without information on the details.

"It is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that should judge and render its decision; we are waiting until September to know what are the IAEA's views are," he added.

Asefi said the Islamic Republic of Iran is serious and transparent in its cooperation with the agency.

The arrival of two IAEA delegations in Iran and the cooperation given by Tehran reveals the Iranian government's sincerity and honesty with respect to the claims.

He expressed hope that in the light of that cooperation the IAEA and its governing council would arrive at a clear-cut and sound judgment.

... Payvand News - 8/18/03 ... --

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