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Iran, Iraq review expansion of cooperation, removal of barriers

Tehran, March 14, IRNA -- Visiting President of the Iraq Governing Council Mohammad Bahr al-Uloum conferred in Tehran on Sunday with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to follow up the second round of talks on recent developments in Iraq, exchange views and opinions and review avenues to further consolidate bilateral relations.

photo: ISNA

According to the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the meeting, Bahr al-Uloum referred to Iran's sufferings during Saddam Hussein's reign and said Saddam's wrongdoing was the root cause of all suffers of Iranian nation and its government.

"Hospitality of Iraqi citizens towards Iranian pilgrims indicates the commonalties and ties between the two nations," he said. People of both countries seek restoration of security and stability in Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran, he pointed out.

President of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmad Chalabi who was also present at the meeting said both Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoy ample geographical and economic potentials to bolster mutual cooperation.

There are grounds for expansion of mutual cooperation on tourism, ports cooperation, industries, oil and gas sectors, he pointed out. Expressing satisfaction over the latest trend in expansion of relations between the two countries, he called for further expansion of mutual ties.

At the meeting, Kharrazi outlined the existing capabilities as well as various potentials in economy, commerce, industrial projects, construction of buildings, roads, power stations and dams, transit of goods as well as religious tourism and expressed hope that trips by pilgrims to be facilitated.

The Islamic Republic of Iran calls for exchange of pilgrims between the two countries, he pointed out.

Highlighting technical progress made in exchange of pilgrims, joint investment, oil and gas, transit and exchange of goods and commodities and benefiting from facilities in Iran's southern ports he called on the relative committees to actively help run the projects. Iran attaches importance to security of her pilgrims as well as her borders, Kharrazi said.

To protect the lives of our civilians 'we will deter pilgrims from undertaking trip to Iraq' until facilities are provided and proper organizations are established, he said.

In conclusion, the two sides agreed to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries.

Khatami stresses end to occupation and Iraqi self-rule

Tehran, March 14, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami here Sunday stressed what he deemed to be the Iraqi people's right to govern themselves and decide their own fate as a nation.

photo: ISNA

During a meeting with the president of the Iraq Governing Council, Mohammad Bahr al-Uloum, Khatami said a weakening of the Iraqi nation would mean a weakening of the Shiite, Sunni, Kurd communities living in Iraq.

He further expressed his belief that the continued occupation of Iraq would give rise to greater insecurity in the country, noting that all who are genuinely concerned over the situation in that country demand a popular government with the right to govern in the hands of Iraqis themselves chosen in a popular election free from ethnic, tribal and religious discrimination.

Khatami said the signing of Iraq's interim constitution was a decision made by the people and that it was a move forward in the people's clamor for self-governance and determination of their own fate as well as an end to the occupation.

However, he added, there are "considerations that would have to be reckoned by all who are worried about the country's future." The president also highlighted the importance of defending Iraq's unity, national solidarity and culture as well as its Islamic tradition.

He expressed regret over the disastrous incidents in the country in the recent past which have claimed several lives, particularly the recent bombing of holy sites on Ashura mourning day, saying those who planned and committed such acts intended to cause disunion in a country that desperately seeks unity to survive.

He noted that various ethnic, tribal and religious differences have caused many problems in certain countries, including in Iraq, and expressed appreciation for the Islamic and popular stances of Ayatollah Sistani and other religious jurisprudents as well as the response of Shia and Sunni clerics towards the regretful incidents which have occurred in the country.

Khatami reiterated his country's readiness to participate in the reconstruction efforts in Iraq, saying expansion of economic, scientific and commercial relations between the two countries was important.

Bahr al-Uloum, for his part, commended the sincere efforts of the Iraqi Governing Council in trying to administer the affairs of the country. He also briefed Khatami on the domestic developments in the country.

Meanwhile, the president of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmad Chalabi, who was among those who attended the meeting, said that with the signing of the interim constitution greater injury to the people was avoided from Iraq's occupation.

"Iraq seeks relations with Iran based on mutual respect and non-interference in the country's internal affairs," Chalabi added.

... Payvand News - 3/14/04 ... --

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