Iran News ...


2/3/03

EU commissioner arrives in Tehran for trade and political talks

Tehran, Feb 3, IRNA -- EU Commissioner for external relations, Chris Patten, arrived here Monday on a three-day visit for the second round of negotiations between Iran and the European Union on mutual trade and cooperation agreement.

"There are several reasons for my visit. One of them is to hold the second round of talks for trade and cooperation agreement between (the) European Union and Iran," he told reporters upon arrival on the first leg of his three-nation tour which will also take him to Turkey and Lebanon.

"The second issue is the progress in our dialogue on related matters involving politics, terrorism, human rights. Thirdly, we will discuss with the (Iranian) government officials the situation in the region particularly the crisis involving Iraq," Patten said.

"These are very powerful reasons to be here at the moment," the EU official added.

Asked about EU stance on the Iraqi crisis, Patten said: "The Security Council resolutions should be implemented in full and that in particular (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein should work with arms inspectors to secure the disarmament which the international community wants to see.

"I think there is broad support in the European Union for trying to ensure that as far as possible the inspectors are able to disarm Iraq and that there is, once and for all, compliance with the authority for the UN."

Patten's visit to Iran is his second after last year's trip of EU troika delegation. The first round of talks was held in Brussels last December.

The EU commissioner is expected to hold crucial talks with Iran's top officials, including President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the head of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mohsen Mirdamadi.

Political experts believe that the Iraqi crisis and Iran's cooperation in the event of a US attack will be on Patten's agenda. He is also expected to seek Tehran's assistance regarding a probable influx of Iraqi refugees towards Iran's borders.

Iran has repeatedly announced that it would assist probable refugees inside the Iraqi territory and turn away anyone wanting to enter the country.

"The Islamic Republic's policy is to help Iraqi officials settle refugees inside the Iraqi territory and Iran will refrain from accepting refugees in its soil," Ahmad Hosseini, head of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Agency, said recently.

A widely leaked UN report predicts that more than three million people will be in pressing need of proper food as a result of a US-led invasion to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein. It also suggested that 900,000 refugees will be in need of help.

Since President Khatami's victory in May 1997, the EU has been holding a 'comprehensive dialogue' with the Islamic Republic in the form of biannual troika meetings on political and economic issues.

The political part of the dialogue covers issues regarding conflicts, including in the Middle East, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights and terrorism.

On the economic front, the European Union is exploring possibilities for cooperation with Iran in the areas of energy, trade and investment as well as refugees and drugs control.

... Payvand News - 2/3/03 ... --



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