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Patten urges Iran to help create viable Palestinian state

Tehran, Feb 5, IRNA -- European Union on Wednesday urged Iran and all 'friends of the Palestinians' to rally attempts for creation of a viable Palestinian state, existing peacefully side by side with Israel.

The EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten said here at Foreign Ministry Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) on Wednesday that Iran and Palestinians' friends should use their influence to bear on Palestinian groups to help put the brakes on the cycle of violence.

Patten said in a speech, entitled 'An opportunity to embrace the family of nations', that the EU plays a 'crucial' role, through extensive cooperation, in the Palestinian reform process.

He hoped that Iran would proceed with a balanced consideration of policies in the spheres of human rights, weapons of mass destruction and the Middle East, which are, of course, in its national interest.

He pointed to an invitation to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the central Iranian cities of Arak (Markazi province) and Natanz (Isfahan province), saying transparency is the 'key'.

He said Iran's signature of the international standard in this regard would send a most positive message in that connection, setting a regional lead and underlining serious international commitment.

"While we all accept that Iran has legitimate defense needs in a troubled region, I think that my EU colleagues and I would find it difficult to tolerate any program aimed at stocking missiles of ever increasing range," said Patten.

He said that on human rights, the EU had abstained from tabling a country resolution on Iran at the UNGA in New York last autumn, which was not an easy decision but was done in order to give the EU-Iran emerging dialogue a chance.

He added that the EU would soon face the same issue at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, which he said he couldn't predict there the final EU position.

At any rate, he said, the human rights dialogue which was set in train in Tehran last December managed to start addressing the important issue s of discrimination and prevention of torture.

"This dialogue must not only go on -- but also result in concrete improvements on the ground," he said.

He added that a definitive end to stoning practices, and adoption of an anti-torture bill, would be clear and positive indicators in that respect.

"Iran has extended invitations to thematic human rights rapporteurs from the UN," said Patten.

... Payvand News - 2/6/03 ... --

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