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Iranian and German Foreign Ministers meet

Ankara, Jan 25, IRNA -- Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharrazi and his German counterpart Joschka Fischer met and conferred here on Friday, on the sidelines of 6 Middle East countries' conference on Iraq Crisis.

Fischer briefed Kharrazi on the joint German-French initiative to avoid the outbreak of a US led war against Iraq, that can spread to the whole region.

He said, "we will continue our intensive efforts aimed at avoiding the outbreak of a war whose consequences are unclear and uncontrollable throughout the Middle East region."

The Iranian foreign minister, too, briefed his German counterpart on the discussions at the Istanbul conference on Iraq crisis, arguing at any unilateral military move against Iraq is totally unacceptable.

Kharrazi added, "the United Nation's pivotal role in solving the Iraq crisis and in monitoring all sensitive developments there should not be ignored or downgraded by any party."

The two countries' top diplomats appreciated the global community's dynamic objection towards a probable US attack against Iraq, emphasizing that it is necessary to maintain international counselling and cooperation to avoid the outbreak of another war in Iraq.

During the meeting it was also agreed that the six countries participating at Istanbul conference should maintain contact also with the EU troika in their efforts aimed at avoiding war in Iraq.

The German foreign minister arrived in Istanbul on Thursday evening unexpectedly and simultaneously with the convening of the Istanbul conference in which six regional countries sought a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.

Fischer's trip to Turkey was interpreted as a step in Germany and France's joint intensified efforts, as two major countries of the European Union, aimed at avoiding a US military attack against Iraq.

Germany will have the rotating chairmanship of the U.N. Security council next month, while discussions on the Iraq crisis would be the most important task of the council at its next session in February.

Fischer is on an unofficial tour of the regional countries to survey the recent developments in Iraq crisis personally and to get first hand information in that regard. His unexpected Istanbul visit was the first stage of that tour.

The German minister of foreign affairs met and conferred with Turkey's Prime Minister Abdullah Gul on Thursday night and with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis on Friday.

On Friday afternoon he also met and conferred with his Jordanian and Syrian counterparts, Marwan Muasher and Farouk al-Shara, who are in Turkey to attend the Istanbul conference on Iraq. Fischer's next leg of the Mideast tour would be Cairo.

Fischer lent Germany's support on Friday to the appeal by six leading Muslim nations to Iraq to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors and avert a US-led war.

Fischer said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis here that Iraq "must understand how serious the situation is."

He reiterated Germany's opposition to a war, saying he "appreciated" the declaration by the six countries, "especially the strong message to the Iraqi government that there must be full compliance with UN resolution 1441."

The joint statement late Thursday by Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, at the end of a day-long conference in Istanbul of their foreign ministers, urged Iraq to comply with UN disarmament resolution and take steps to "unambiguously inspire confidence" in its neighbors.

"It was timely and very important," Fischer said in English.

As well as urging Iraq to comply, the German minister said that "it was also very important that the conference gave a strong signal for a peaceful solution to the crisis."

The chief weapons inspectors are due Monday to give a key report to the UN Security Council. Diplomats believe the United States, which with Britain is massing tens of thousands of troops in the region, might use a negative report as a reason to launch action.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has already ruled out a vote in favour of war at the Security Council, but has not said if Germany would abstain or vote no.

Fischer's final stop is Amman and talks with Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb, before returning Sunday to Berlin.

... Payvand News - 1/25/03 ... --

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