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FM spokesman welcomes Europe's offer of nuclear fuel to Iran

Tehran, Oct 31, IRNA -- Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi welcomed Europe's offer of nuclear fuel supplies but said it would not nonetheless deter Tehran from pursuing its legitimate right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

At his weekly press briefing, Asefi told reporters that the proposal was in itself regarded by Iran as a positive measure but that it would not make it abandon its legal right to produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

In response to a reporter's question regarding Europe's proposal that Iran suspend its enrichment activities for 10 years, he said no proposal of the kind had been extended to Iran, adding that there was never a mention of the number of years.

He said that the Europeans had indeed focused on the issue of uranium enrichment suspension, but that their proposal was that Iran suspend uranium enrichment "for as long as nuclear talks are continuing."

Asefi said that the phrase "as long as talks are continuing" should be defined clearly and precisely.

On the impact of the Iranian Parliament's double-urgency bill annulling a previous bill suspending uranium enrichment, he said he believed the two bills did not necessarily contradict each other because the Islamic Republic of Iran has every right to pass laws or legislation as called for by the exigencies of the time.

Meanwhile, Asefi said Iran's negotiations with Europe were on track.

Turning to the subject of the imminent US presidential elections and in response to a question on which of the two parties (Democrat or Republican) Iran favored, Asefi said that it did not really make any real difference to Iran.

Responding to another question regarding the date of the Iraqi president's planned visit to Tehran, the spokesman replied that the no date has yet been fixed for the visit and pointed out that Iran considered such visits as beneficial for the convergence of regional states as well as in the interest of stability and peace in the region.

Asefi also assessed the result of talks held in Moscow toward resolving the Caspian Sea as "positive," saying the talks focused on determining the contents of the pertinent convention, the agreements reached in the 16th meeting in Ashkhabad, shipping in the Caspian Sea, laying of pipelines underneath the sea and resolving differences on some points,

As to the holding of the next summit of Caspian Sea littoral states in Tehran, he said there has been a final agreement on the issue but no date as yet.

Another reporter referred to some US newspaper reports claiming Osama bin Laden is in Iran to which Asefi replied that American papers always manage to come up with such juicy news when an important event such as the presidential election is near.

He stressed that neither Bin Laden nor any other extremist person from Al-Qaeda is in Iran.

However, he acknowledged that a number of members of the group from lower ranks are in Iranian prisons.

He believed the spread of such news was an attempt to cover up the US failure in the fight against terrorism.

On the result of the US presidential election and its probable impact on the Iran nuclear case, he said past experiences have taught us that the two parties are not really any different and that both favor the imposition of pressures on Iran.

Asefi said he was not going to make predictions on the results of the presidential elections, but expressed his hope that the American parties have learned a lesson from the past, that is, that interaction and dialogue, and not pressure or threats, were the only ways to talk to Iran.

... Payvand News - 10/31/04 ... --

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