Brussels, Feb 2, IRNA -- The EU Commissioner for external relations, Chris Patten, Sunday said Europe has a huge interest in Iran and stressed that it would be a big mistake not to involve Iran in shaping the world's future.
''We have a huge interest in Europe in what is happening in Iran in the debate of modernization and reform. We recognize that this is a debate for Iran. We don't seek to intervene or interfere in this debate. But, everyone must recognize, I am sure, that reform opens the way for Iran playing a much more significant role in international stage, regionally and globally. That is something which we would much welcome,'' said Patten in an exclusive interview with IRNA on the even of his visit to Iran.
''Iran is a great pre-Islamic civilisation. Much of history began in Iran and for Iran not to be involved globally in shaping our future would be in my judgment a terrible mistake, a terrible lack for the rest of the world.''
Patten Monday begins his first bilateral visit to Iran, though he said he went ''on a very successful'' visit with the then President of the (EU) Council in the immediate aftermath of 11 September.
''I have been looking forward to this visit for sometime. Of course this happens at a particularly crucial moment in much of the history of the region, perhaps the history of the world,'' he said.
Chris Patten is an internationally-respected diplomat, politician and author.
He is the former Chairman of the British Conservative Party and UK's last Governor of Hong Kong.
''We follow the debate in Iran about political and economic reforms with interest and it would be obviously a value to me to hear and see what is happening at first hand,'' he told IRNA.
Referring to the launching of EU-Iran negotiations on a trade and cooperation agreement along with a political dialogue and a discussion on human rights in December, Patten said, ''We have differences of views on the subject but we hope that we can resolve those differences through dialogue rather than angry debate.''
''So I would want to go and put a seal on that process. This is a very important moment as we have seen from the debates in the UN and it would be interesting to hear the views of Iran on the situation not only in Iran, the Persian Gulf, but in Afghanistan and other countries as well.''
''We have a great amount to discuss with Iran on for instance the impact on ballooning drugs production in Afghanistan,''said the EU Commissioner who is expected to hold crucial talks with President Khatami, foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi and other top officials during his 3-day visit to Iran.
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