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Iran calls on EU to work for a WMD-free Middle East

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hassan Rowhani on Monday called on Europe to work together to make the Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction, IRNA reported from Brussels.

"We called on Europe to work with us to turn the Middle East into a zone free from weapons of mass destruction," Rowhani told reporters after meeting with the foreign ministers of France Dominique de Villepin and UK Jack Straw and a top German official in Brussels Monday afternoon.

Rowhani said his meeting with the three men was a 'continuation of the dialogue that we had in Iran'.

Asked if Iran was concerned that its nuclear program could be referred to the UN Security Council by the IAEA, he said "There is no justification, no reason to refer Iran's peaceful nuclear program to the UNSC.

"Therefore we have no concerns," he added. "In all my meetings with the European side I have drawn the attention to the danger posed by Israel's weapons of mass destruction," said Rowhani.

EU foreign ministers are holding their regular monthly meeting in Brussels today. However, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is not attending Monday's meeting.

Earlier, Rowhani met Javier Solana, EU high representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, whose country holds the current EU Presidency. "We had an excellent meeting with the foreign minister of Italy," Rowhani told reporters after the one-hour meeting.

"We reviewed the relations between EU and Iran. We also discussed regional issues, Iraq and the potential for cooperation in Iraq," he said.

The two sides also discussed Iran's nuclear program and the agreement that Iran reached in Tehran.

"Iran is committed to the agreement reached in Tehran and the European side also stressed on its commitment," added Rowhani. Iran agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the NPT following the visit of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK to Tehran on 21 October.

He also held talks with Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten and discussed EU-Iran relations.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting he said Iran has reached an agreement with three EU foreign Ministers in Tehran and 'our expectation is that they fulfill those obligations'.

"Whatever I heard today till now from Mr. Patten, Mr. Solana the Italian foreign minister has been constructive and positive," he said. Patten's spokesperson Emma Udwin told IRNA that the two sides held 'very good, constructive and friendly talks'.

"Iran understands our position very well on the nuclear issue. "There is real determination from both sides to move forward. Both sides desire deeper and stronger relations," she added.

... Payvand News - 11/17/03 ... --

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