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Kharrazi's visit to London at "sensitive time"

London, Feb 4, IRNA -- Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi is to leave for London on Wednesday for an official visit to discuss bilateral ties and the latest regional and international developments.

Iranian Ambassador to Britain Morteza Sarmadi told IRNA here that Kharrazi's visit will be in response to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's recent visit to Iran.

Latest developments in the region, the Iraqi crisis, key international issues and Tehran-London ties will be the main agenda in Kharrazi's talks with British officials, he added.

Kharrazi is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Great Britain's Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FASC) Chairman and Labor MP Donald Anderson and other senior British officials, Sarmadi said.

Blair has reportedly set aside 30 minutes in his daily schedule on Thursday to meet Kharrazi, who last held a one-on-one meeting with the British premier during his visit to the UK in January 2000.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has since paid three visits to Tehran, the last in October 2002.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, referring to his imminent visit to London, in Tehran Monday said that it will be taking place at a sensitive time when "we are witnessing critical developments in the region."

He said that his British counterpart Jack Straw, during earlier visits, had invited him to visit London.

"Iran is pursuing talks with various countries, both with those who favor the use of force against Iraq and those who are after finding peaceful mechanisms in this respect," he said.

He said Iran is "an important country in the region and can play a pivotal role in respect to the crisis," adding that "of course, it will secure and defend its interests in the face of regional issues."

Unlike the US, Britain has pursued a policy of constructive engagement with Iran in tandem with the European Union.

Members of the British Foreign Affairs Select Committee are due to visit Tehran in March.

... Payvand News - 2/4/03 ... --

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