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11/25/04

British MPs urge UK to resist US pressure on Iran

London, Nov 25, IRNA -- A group of MPs are calling on the British parliament to urge Prime Minister Tony Blair to stand up to US threats against Iran's nuclear programme.

An Early Day Motion, so far signed by 11 Labour MPs in the House of Commons, urges the British government 'to resist any attempts at escalation or departure from dialogue and multilateral diplomacy'.

"This House notes that Iran has stated it is suspending its uranium enrichment programme in line with the agreement negotiated by Britain, France and Germany," the resolution said.

It also welcomed the 'constructive approach' taken by government in co-ordination with its major EU partners and congratulated 'all participants on the outcome'.

The motion, raised by veteran anti-war MP, Alice Mahon, said it further noted that Iran's statement has been welcomed by Mohamed ElBaredei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that the UN watchdog is now checking to confirm.

"The United States Administration continues to press for the matter to be referred to the UN Security Council," it said, adding it believed 'multilateral negotiations like those conducted by the EU trio are the best means to secure a peaceful resolution'.

The motion coincided with Foreign Office Minister Douglas Alexandra confirming to parliament that the UK government had a 'genuine and strong commitment to engaging positively'.

"Our engagement is conditional and depends on progress by Iran in our areas of concern. I believe that this policy carries with it the greatest chance of bringing Iran into the international community and making it a positive influence in the Middle East," he said.

The minister was responding during a debate on Iran raised by former Conservative Minister Sir Teddy Taylor Wednesday, calling on the government to make a clear statement of the UK's position ahead of this week's IAEA board meeting on Iran's nuclear programme.

"I would like the Government to make it abundantly clear that they are satisfied with the latest assurances from the Iranian Government and that they will confirm that, following the worthwhile discussions between Britain, other European countries and Iran, that any problem of alleged nuclear proliferation has been dealt with in a satisfactory manner," Taylor said.

He said he hoped a clear statement would also be made on their assessment of the situation in Iran itself because 'owing to misleading propaganda, people have gained the wrong impression about the country'.

With regard to the nuclear issue, the former minister suggested that the best way forward would be to hold a conference of all countries in the Middle East to prepare for the establishment of a non-nuclear zone as proposed by the UN.

He also believed that the British government should persuade the US to apologise to Iran for supporting Saddam Hussein's during Iraq war against Iran and also for shooting down a civilian Iranian plane, with many women and children on board.

"America has now changed its attitude to Saddam Hussein, but I think there could be merit in the Americans simply saying sorry for the most appalling and mass killings which were inflicted on the Iranian people by Saddam Hussein, who was then America's particular friend in the Middle East," Taylor told MPs.

Alexandra said the UK government wanted 'genuinely to work' with Iran to address such challenges as fighting terrorism, combating drugs, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and building stable democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"That is why, along with our EU partners, we have pursued a policy of engagement. However, I emphasise that this engagement is conditional. Further development of relations with Iran depends on its progress in the areas of concern to us," he said.

With regard to Iran's nuclear programme, the Foreign Office minister said that the dialogue pursued by Britain, together with France and Germany 'has had significant results'.

"I hope that the IAEA inspectors will be able to confirm at the IAEA board of governors' meeting starting tomorrow (Thursday) that the full suspension is in place. I hope also that the board will achieve consensus on a sensible way forward," he said.

Alexandra repeated assurances that if Iran's suspension is sustained and verified, 'we can look forward to discussions with Iran that are aimed at agreeing long-term arrangements'.

"These will provide objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The issues are complex and challenging, and will not be resolved overnight. We will do our utmost to make rapid progress," he told parliament.

... Payvand News - 11/25/04 ... --



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