Iran News ...


Khatami backs his minister over Iraqi FM's visit

Tehran, Feb 19, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday reaffirmed his support for embattled Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who is facing an impeachment motion by parliamentarians over Iraqi FM Naji Sabri's visit to the Islamic Republic last week.

On Sunday, at least 100 MPs passed a censure motion against Kharrazi, reprimanding him for his 'untimely and unjustifiable decisions'.

"Now that Iraqi Baath regime's hours are counted, there is no justification for the visit of Naji Sabri to Tehran at this juncture," the deputies said in a part of the motion.

Khatami did not mince his words, saying, "Our friends must know that if our minister of foreign affairs makes a decision, that is a decision made by the state and we support it."

The Iranian president also made a veiled criticism as he said, "Impeachment is the undeniable right of the Majlis (Parliament) and I respect the MPs' questions and their right to impeach. But I expect them not to publicly raise issues which run counter to our interests at the current sensitive juncture."

Government spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, echoed Khatami's statements and said that 'negotiations with Iraqi officials are part of our general plan to confront the crisis which has gripped the region'.

"Our policy is to defend the country's interests and given the prevailing crisis, we feel obliged to have contacts with all the involved groups with which we have diplomatic ties," he said.

Iran, which fought an imposed war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988, is strongly opposed to a probable US attack on Iraq, while making clear that such an objection did not mean support for Baghdad.

The MPs on Sunday outlined Iraq's belligerent approach during war years with the Islamic Republic and afterwards, including its refusal to apologize for invading Iran and pay reparations 'which amount to about 1,000 billion dollars'.

"Saddam has repeatedly played games with our national interests by adopting numerous political tricks and the (Iranian) Foreign Ministry has remained passive towards Baghdad's decisions," they said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri last Sunday paid a 24-hour visit to the Islamic Republic and held talks with Iranian officials, who made clear that Iraq's full compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions was the only remaining alternative to resolve the standoff between Baghdad and Washington.

Sabri also submitted Saddam Hussein's message for Khatami. The contents of the message were not disclosed.

Khatami, who is also the head of the Supreme National Security Council, said there was nothing new in the message.

"We have ties with the whole world and these visits are normal and they must not be seen as an extraordinary issue. This does not imply deviation from principles either," he added.

... Payvand News - 2/19/03 ... --

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