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Patten calls for long-term constructive EU-Iran ties

European Commissioner for external relations Chris Patten has described Iran as an "enormously important regional player" without whose participation there can be no credible policy for the Wider Middle East, IRNA reported from Brussels.

"I think the whole parliament would agree, or at least most members of the Parliament, that it is crucial to develop a long-term constructive relationship between the EU and Iran," Patten told the uropean Parliament in Strasbourg Thursday afternoon during a debate on the elections in the Islamic Republic.

The British Commissioner recalled several reasons for developing the European bloc's relations with Iran.

"Iran is a great pre-Islamic civilization ... a civilization in which we in the West have occasionally meddled in ways which were not very well judged," he said.

"Secondly, Iran is an enormously important regional player. You just have to look at its neighborhood to see how important it is."

Patten further underscored the need to involved Iran in any policy regarding the Middle East.

"If we are serious about a creative and constructive policy for the Wider Middle East it has to involve Iran. It is no good condemning Iran out of hand. It's no good regarding Iran as being led by anarchy and forces of wickedness and darkness," he said.

Patten hoped that in the course of the next months and years Iran would be able to play a constructive leadership role in the Middle East affairs.

He said the EU was concerned by the IAEA's report on Iran's nuclear program last year, but added that "we are pleased that progress has been made following the visit of the three EU foreign ministers to Tehran."

Patten said the EU is now waiting for the next IAEA report on Iran and for a clear commitment by Iran to meet the undetakings it gave in Tehran before the two sides can resume negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement which is under an "informal pause" since June last year.

The human rights dialogue with Iran was "an extremely important aspect of our relationship with Iran," he noted.

EU commissioner: We support Iran's membership in WTO

EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy Thursday reiterated the European bloc's support for Iran's membership in the WTO, a day after the US blocked again the Islamic Republic's efforts to join the world trade body.

"We supported Iraq's membership as we support Iran's membership," Lamy told IRNA in Brussels today.

Iraq was granted observer status at the WTO Wednesday, but Americans blocked Iran's application for political reasons.

Lamy said the 'good news' is that the WTO has agreed on a process to examine Iran's request for observer status in the Geneva-based 146-member World Trade Organisation.

The WTO General Council will begin consultations with the members on Iran's request most probably in May for observership, a first milestone on the road to joining WTO.

"We will work with the General Council," said Lamy, adding that it is "a little move in the right direction."

The WTO General Council elected on Wednesday Shotaro Oshima of Japan as its new Chairman.

... Payvand News - 2/13/04 ... --

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