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Belgian-Iranian women's association in the making

Brussels, May 5, IRNA -- A 9-member group of Belgian women is traveling to Tehran this weekend to discuss the establishment of a Belgian-Iranian women's friendship association.

The head of the group is Simone Susskind, President of the Brussels-based organization 'Actions in the Mediterranean' and also an advisor to Belgian deputy prime minister and justice minister Laurette Onkelinx.

In an interview with IRNA, Susskind said the idea to form the association came from Onkelinx herself when she visited Iran two years ago as the then minister for employment and equal opportunity.

"The minister was very amazed and excited by the Iranian women she met in Tehran," noted Susskind.

On her return from Iran, Onkelinx suggested that contacts between the civil societies of the two countries have to be promoted.

"The main goal of the association will be to remove misconception and misunderstanding in order to be able to develop ties between women in Belgium and Iran," said Susskind.

The Belgian group is made up of a lawyer, a university professor and representatives of civil society and NGOs.

The group visited Tehran in December to make initial contacts with Iranian women's groups and organizations.

"I discovered in Iran a living society, a vibrant society. You can see that on the streets, in the university, in schools," Susskind told IRNA.

She met in Tehran women professors, artists, singers, film directors, representatives of civil society, and a group of nine Iranian women was formed.

"We have many points of common understanding and a lot of possibilities for cooperation," she said.

During their one-week stay in Iran, the group will open an exhibition of Belgian artists and hold meetings with Iranian women from different fields of the society and also visit the Iranian president's advisor for women affairs, Mrs. Zahra Shojaee.

Later this year, the Iranian women's group is expeted to visit Brussels when the Belgian-Iranian women's friendship association will formally be launched.

"I am very excited and looking forward to this visit,'' said a happy Susskind. Just before the interview with IRNA Tuesday evening she was informed by the Iranian embassy that the group's visa has been issued.

The Belgian women's group will fly to Tehran on Saturday.

... Payvand News - 5/5/04 ... --

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