Iran News ...


5/9/03

Iran rules out US dialogue in the face of American pressures

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in Rome on Thursday that dialogue between between Tehran and Washington, which have held no diplomatic ties under the Islamic Republic, was out of the question as long as US kept up its pressures on Iran, IRNA reported.

"Although it is not hard to start a dialogue, we must first be assured about whether America wants to have equal relations, based on mutual respect, since it is impossible to hold dialogue while one side is under pressure," he said when asked about chances of any dialogue.

Kharrazi said "America intends to pressure its opponents under many pretexts". Washington accuses Tehran of seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a charge Iran strongly rejects.

"Iran respects treaties on controlling arms of mass destruction and all of our activities in the nuclear sector are under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," he said.

"It is rather other countries which do not respect global treaties and do not want Iran to work in this sector and now the international agency (IAEA) must judge on whether our nuclear programs are illegal or we have the right to make peaceful use of atomic energy," Kharrazi added.

The minister also criticized US for classifying the world to either "friends" or "foes" of America.

Iran, he added, is happy with the ouster of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as well as hardline Taliban in Afghanistan, but the country is further worried about US interests in the region.

"We do not want America to maintain its presence in the region since we believe American objectives transcends that of eliminating Taliban and Saddam Hussein," Kharrazi said.

He reiterated Iran's earlier assertions that UN must take up the key role in the formation of the future government in Iraq.

Iran was among the staunchest opponents of the US-led invasion of Iraq, despite adopting a position of "active neutrality" and refraining from backing one side or the other in the conflict.

Kharrazi arrived in Rome from Luxembourg Thursday on a two-day official visit to hold talks with high ranking Italian officials on bilateral, regional and international issues.

Earlier, he called on Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and speaker of the lower house of parliament, Pierferdinando Casini, as well as chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Policy Committee, Gustavo Selva.

Berlusconi: Improved Iran-EU ties will promote global peace

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in Rome on Thursday night that close ties between Iran and EU were in line with the interests of the two sides as well as global peace and stability, IRNA reported.

In a meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Berlusconi also pledged that Rome would make utmost efforts to strengthen ties between Tehran and EU once it takes over the presidency of the 15-nation bloc from Greece on July 1.

The prime minister announced his country's interest in boosting cooperation with Iran in the industrial and economic sectors, especially the small- and medium-size industries as well as Italian investment in the Islamic Republic.

Berlusconi also hailed Tehran's "very transparent and balanced stance regarding various issues, especially on Iraq".

Iran was among the staunch opponents of the US-led invasion of

Iraq, despite adopting a position of "active neutrality" and refraining from backing one side or the other in the conflict.

Kharrazi, who arrived here from Luxembourg Thursday for a two-day visit, described ties between Tehran and Rome "very close", saying there existed "large grounds for cooperation".

Touching on the international role of EU, the Iranian foreign minister said, "A united and strong European Union, capable of playing a role in crises, is in line with global peace and security and Iran supports it."

Kharrazi outlined Iran's views regarding developments in Iraq and said, "The future government in Baghdad must forge friendly relations with its neighbors on the basis of coexistence and respect of existing accords."

Commenting on Iran's nuclear energy programs, he said, "These programs are totally transparent and one must not be deceived by certain biased circles which are opposed to Iran's capabilities."

"Instead of such antagonistic and negative propaganda, the international commitments towards Iran and necessary cooperation with Tehran must be fulfilled," Kharrazi said.

Iran says that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had failed to fulfill its commitments to the country according to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty agreement, by denying Iran to have access to nuclear technology.

Washington claims that Iran's nuclear program, including for a complete nuclear fuel cycle, was intended to produce weapons of mass destruction, a charge which Tehran has strongly rejected.

Iran says the programs are intended to generate 7,000 megawatts of power in the next 20 years to cope with rising demand for energy in the country while its hydrocarbon reserves become overstretched.

Kharrazi also outlined the Islamic Republic's economic and industrial development plans and welcomed Italian cooperation in this regard.

The two sides further intimated their support for the participation of the private sector in bolstering industrial and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Kharrazi and Berlusconi also called for increased efforts to hold the sixth meeting of the two countries' joint economic commission in Rome in the near future as much successful as possible.

The Iranian foreign minister arrived in Rome Thursday on a two-day official visit to hold talks with high ranking Italian officials on bilateral, regional and international issues.

Earlier, he called on Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and speaker of the lower house of parliament, Pierferdinando Casini, as well as chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Policy Committee, Gustavo Selva.

Italy is a major Iranian trade partner in Europe. The two countries have held very close relations over recent years, especially during President Mohammad Khatami's tenure.

Trade volume between Tehran and Rome stood at over dlrs 3.676 billion in 2002, showing a growth of more than four percent compared to the previous year.

... Payvand News - 5/9/03 ... --



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