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Iran should participate in Sharm el-Sheikh conference: former FM

TEHRAN, April 28 (Mehr News Agency) - For the benefit of Iraq, Iran should participate in the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, former foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said in Tehran on Friday.

The Iraq security conference, which is to gather the country's neighbors and world powers, is scheduled to be held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from May 3 to 4.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari arrived in Iran on Wednesday for a two-day trip to try to convince the country to participate in the conference, but Tehran has not yet announced its decision.

"We should not be deceived by a change in the tone of the U.S. rhetoric. In political talks, a person's tone may change for various reasons," he added.

The change in the tone of certain U.S. officials may be due to the fact that the date of the Iraq conference is approaching, he stated.

The conference will fail if Iran does not participate, and all countries, including the U.S., want to see security and stability established in Iraq, he said.

On Saturday, the Mehr News Agency also sought the views of three MPs on the issue.

MP Abbas-Ali Akhtari stated that Iran's participation in the Sharm el-Sheikh conference would weaken the stances of the countries that favor compromising with Israel.

Iran must resolutely participate in the conference, he opined.

"Those who oppose participation are not aware of the sensitivity and the importance of the situation in the Middle East, especially Iraq," he added.

However, MP Heshmatollah Falahat-Pisheh of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said, "It seems that the objective behind holding the conference is not really solving Iraq's problems."

Through the conference, the U.S. is trying to insert new players into the Iraq equation and to reduce the role of certain current players, he observed.

Iran should adopt a discreet and comprehensive policy toward the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, he said, adding that the Islamic Republic should "demand the immediate release of its diplomats and ask for a direct and clear sign of goodwill."

U.S. troops stormed the Iranian consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on January 11 and arrested five diplomats under the pretext that they were fomenting violence in Iraq.

MP Omidvar Rezaii said it would be better for Tehran to seriously and actively participate in regional and international conferences, in light of the special situation that the U.S. has created for Iran, seeking to isolate the country in every possible way.

Various reasons, such as defending national interests and increasing the country's regional and international bargaining power, necessitate Iran's participation in the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, he noted.

... Payvand News - 4/28/07 ... --

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