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Iraq issue drawing London closer to Tehran

Tehran, Feb 9, IRNA -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi had two days of talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Minister Jack Straw in London last week.

"Tehran-London ties and the Iraqi crisis made up the agenda of his (Kharrazi's) talks with the British officials, `Tehran Times' said in its Opinion column on Sunday.

Ties between the two countries have been on a rollercoaster over the past decade, but have generally improved in the past two years.

With another Persian Gulf war looming in the horizon, Blair has called for constant consultations between Tehran and London in the next few weeks.

Of course, the reason is obvious. Iran is one of the countries that border Iraq and, if anything, would have a sway in the outcome of any war against that country.

But what may be bothering London now is that Tehran does not buy its arguments for a war against Iraq.

"Despite the fact that Iran has been the chief victim of Iraqi aggressive policies, Tehran believes that no power should deprive other countries of the opportunity to determine their own fate" even if such intervention is under the pretext of fighting terrorism or destroying weapons of mass destruction, pointed out the daily.

In other words, Saddam may have weapons of mass destruction, may have tortured and used chemical weapons against his own people, or may have links with the Al-Qaeda, etc., still it is for the Iraqi people to decided whether they want him or not.

Any change in the Iraqi regime "through the use of force would set a (dangerous) precedent that could threaten world peace" and marginalize the United Nations, the daily said.

Although both countries are eager to enhance bilateral ties, these ties can only progress for as long as they are based on mutual respect, it suggested.

And, mutual respect means London must "agree to disagree" with Tehran's stance on the Iraqi crisis.

"Iran maintains that the issue could still be resolved through diplomatic channels and UN inspectors ought to be given more time to carry out their mission."

As Kofi Annan has said, a war on Iraq would have more legitimacy and would be more effective if it had the support of the international community.

... Payvand News - 2/9/03 ... --

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