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EU-Iran human rights dialogue creates better awareness on both sides

According to reports by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the second round of a human rights dialogue between the EU and the Islamic Republic of Iran ended in Brussels Saturday evening on a very promising note, participants said.

"The meeting was very positive and constructive. The atmosphere was very friendly. We believe that the dialogue has gone very well," Danesh Yazdi, director-general of the International Legal Affairs Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry told IRNA.

Danesh, who headed the 25-member Iranian delegation which attended the meeting, said two main issues were discussed extensively--rule of law and fair trial.

The Iranian side was represented by foreign ministry and judiciary officials, Majlis, academics and NGOs.

The EU side was led by representatives of the current Greek EU presidency with the participation of European Commission and Council officials, NGOs, academics, professors from several EU member states and a representative from the London-based Amnesty International.

Danesh said he believes the dialogue will continue as it is a mechanism that encourages understanding between Iran and the EU on human rights issues.

"If there are concerns from both sides, those concerns can be addressed in a friendly atmosphere. This mechanism can bring fruits," he said.

Danesh said he hoped that the EU will not table a resolution on Iran in the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Commission.

"We expect that while we are cooperating with the EU on the question of human rights, I think there is no legitimate ground for the EU to present any resolution to the Commission on Human Rights," he said.

One Italian professor told IRNA that such meetings were useful in promoting understanding between the two sides.

A Greek participant said the two-day dialogue was "useful and interesting."

Mohammad Dadfar, MP and member of Article 90 Commission of the Iranian Parliament, said: "In general, the meeting was good." The commission deals with public complaints against judicial decisions.

"It was an opportunity to inform the European side about the real situation in Iran," he told IRNA.

Reza Youssefian, member of the Majlis' (Parliament) National Security and Foreign Relations Committee, described the meeting as constructive and fruitful.

"I think this dialogue helps the sides to understand each other. In the EU the most important thing is to know what is really going on inside Iran. We don't say that everything is OK in Iran and we have no defects.

"But we want to say that the problems are not so big as being portrayed in the West.

"We have our problems, our culture, our challenges, but at the same time we have some strong points that should be understood," Youssefian told IRNA.

The MP said he thinks the human rights situation is improving in Iran.

Zarir Merat, of the Paris-based Penal Reform International, said the dialogue was very fruitful and interesting.

"It is very important for the EU to see that many discussion are going on in Iran. We can see this in the Iranian delegation, the diversity of ideas and thoughts and this is very fruitful," Merat said.

The first round of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue was held in Tehran last December.

... Payvand News - 3/16/03 ... --

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