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Iran and Japan resurrect 'very good' ties after passing spat

Iran and Japan described Tuesday their diplomatic ties as "very good", despite taking up a divergent road to their relations with the United States, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, talking to reporters after meeting with his Japanese counterpart Yoriko Kawaguchi here, said that "good political ties between Japan and America have no effect on relations between Tehran and Tokyo.

"Every country is free in pursuing its own policies," said Kharrazi, setting the tone for Kawaguchi to state that "political and economic relations between Iran and Japan are very good".

"We are determined to strengthen these ties and to achieve this goal, we came to good conclusions in our negotiations today," she said, without specifying them.

US, a key ally of Japan with strong economic affiliations, holds no diplomatic relations with Iran in the wake of the 1980 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran by the revolutionary students.

Tokyo fell behind Washington's line with a proposal to report Tehran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions during the November meeting of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors for alleged nuclear energy violations. But, the effort fell flat.

Asked about the position, Kawaguchi said, "Japan is the only victim of nuclear weapons in the world; thus, it seeks the destruction of such arms in all countries."

The Japanese foreign minister was accosted by another reporter, who questioned Tokyo's stance regarding the Israeli atomic arsenal. She said, "The Japanese government has also asked Israel, India and Pakistan to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Kawaguchi arrived here Tuesday on a two-day visit to discuss a host of issues, including bilateral ties, the Iraqi situation and Iran's nuclear plans.

Asked why Tokyo was adamant in dispatching troops to Iraq despite opposition from the Japanese people, she said, "We would rather these troops work under the flag of the United Nations and its supervision and remain in Iraq temporarily in order to establish security and help with its reconstruction."

"The Japanese government and people believe that the fate of Iraq must be decided by its own people," Kawaguchi added.

She offered condolences to the Iranian government and nation on the tragic earthquake in the southeastern city of Bam, which led to the deaths of more than 35,000.

Japan, Kawaguchi said, has been making two-million-dollar worth of relief aid to the victims of the disaster in cash and non-cash. The country sent an emergency rescue team to Bam, followed by two C-130 aircraft with a 40-member relief team as well as blankets and tents and other relief goods.

Another subject in discussions was energy cooperation, including Japan's participation in the development of the Azadegan oil field in southern Iran, on which Tokyo once held preferential rights. "Japan is among major purchasers of our oil and is interested in expanding relations with Iran in the energy sector," Kharrazi said.

Iran had given preferential negotiation rights to the consortium during President Mohammad Khatami's visit to Japan in 2000 to develop the Azadegan field.

The deadline was not met and Tehran had to retract the rights, besides holding limited negotiations with several other foreign entities over the development work.

However, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, Mehdi Mir-Moezzi, told IRNA last month that Tehran was studying a request by Japan to extend the deadline.

... Payvand News - 1/6/04 ... --

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