In its draft annual report on human rights in the world in 2002, the EP noted that in December 2002, the EU initiated its human rights dialogue with Iran, in parallel to the negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
''We learned that the discussions under the human rights dialogue, held on 16-17 December 2002 and 14-15 March 2003, were conducted in a constructive atmosphere on subjects such as discrimination (women's rights and rights of minorities, racial discrimination and xenophobia), the prevention of torture, fair trials and the rule of law,'' said the report prepared by the EP's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights.
The Iranian Government agreed to receive a number of UN Special Rapporteurs later this year, including the Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and on Violence against Women.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited Iran in February 2003. A visit by the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has been arranged for June 2003.
''This development is certainly an important step forward,'' stressed the report.
The EP said it also took note of the de facto moratorium on the imposition of sentences to death by stoning in Iran and urged the Iranian Government definitively to abolish this practice.
It called on the Council and the Commission to cooperate closely with human rights organisations in Iran.
For the EU, all areas of deepened cooperation with Iran ''are interdependent and indissociable,'' the report pointed out.
EU foreign ministers are to discuss the 15-member European bloc's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in their meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, IRNA reported from Brussels.
The ministers are expected to issue conclusions on EU-Iran ties and on Iran's nuclear programme, EU sources told journalists in Brussels.
''Member states have slightly different ideas. Some are concerned about Iran's nuclear programme,'' said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The EU ministers are expected to urge Iran to sign an additional protocol to the NPT Treaty.
Referring to the recently-concluded fourth round of EU-Iran Trade and Cooperation Agreement negotiation, the sources said ''they are going very well.''
Progress is also being made in the political negotiations between Iran and the EU, noted the sources. Three rounds of political negotiations have been held so far.
The sources stressed that the trade and political negotiations ''began together, are inter-linked and will end together.''
The EU and Iran launched Trade and Cooperation Agreement negotiations in December to bind their bilateral ties on a contractual basis.
Simultaneously they also began political negotiations linked with issues like fight against terrorism, WMDs, human rights, the Middle East.
... Payvand News - 6/14/03 ... --