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Iran and EU discuss ways of boosting ties

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten met in Paris on Thursday and discussed ways of boosting ties between the Islamic Republic and the European Union, IRNA reported.

Patten stressed Iran's vital role in the Middle East region as well as the world and said, "No constructive step in the region will bear fruit without Iran's participation and presence and no one can ignore Iran's role."

The EU commissioner also hailed Tehran's role in Iraq and Afghanistan and expressed satisfaction over the ongoing dialogue between the Islamic Republic and the European Union.

Patten said the two sides' negotiations were on the friendship track. He also described the Islamic Republic as an example of democracy in the region.

"Relations between Iran and the European Union are in line with the two sides' interests and Iran is ready to expand this cooperation according to mutual respect," Kharrazi said.

The Iranian foreign minister outlined the Islamic Republic's peaceful nuclear energy activities and said, "Iran's intentions and deeds are the same and transparent.

"The West is expected to follow suit and pave the ground for further cooperation by adopting a transparent and indiscriminate stance," Kharrazi added.

The Islamic Republic has criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for failing to fulfill its commitments to the country according to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty agreement, by denying Iran to have access to nuclear technology.

Kharrazi also hit out at US for implementing double standards in fighting terrorism and said, "America is dealing with this ominous phenomenon with profit-seeking policies."

The European Union has defied US approach of demonizing Iran and taken a policy of engagement with Tehran.

Since President Khatami's victory in May 1997, the EU has been holding a 'comprehensive dialogue' with the Islamic Republic in the form of biannual troika meetings on political and economic issues.

The political part of the dialogue covers issues regarding conflicts, including in the Middle East, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights and terrorism.

On the economic front, the European Union is exploring possibilities for cooperation with Iran in the areas of energy, trade and investment as well as refugees and drugs control.

The EU is Iran's biggest trading partner, with oil accounting for over 80 percent of Teheran's exports to the EU. Iran also sells agricultural products -- mainly pistachios -- as well as textiles and carpets to the EU.

Kharrazi is here to participate at a two-day "Ministerial Conference on Drug Routes". The conference, attended by 55 countries, is focusing on how to coordinate expertise and channel resources in the international campaign against drug trafficking.

Secretary General of the Headquarters in charge of anti-drug campaign, Ali Hashemi, and several officials and senior experts are accompanying Kharrazi in the conference.

... Payvand News - 5/23/03 ... --

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