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Iran, Qatar warn against Shia-Sunni schism

TEHRAN, Jan. 21 (Mehr News Agency) - On Sunday, the foreign ministers of Iran and Qatar stressed that the sectarian strife between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq must come to an end.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said he discussed the roots of insecurity in Iraq with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani.

"The important issue, which I called a plot in the negotiations, is the plan to sow discord and ethnic violence through raising the Shia and Sunni issue," Mottaki told reporters at a joint press conference with the Qatari foreign minister.

"Iran and Qatar are determined to hold joint meetings with the participation of Shia and Sunni scholars to crush this plot," Mottaki added.

The Qatari foreign minister called his talks with Mottaki "very positive and serious" and said he had brought a written message from the Qatari emir for the Iranian president.

"Qatar's most important message is that the Iraq issue is an important matter and... regional countries should not allow schisms and the ignition of a fire between Shias and Sunnis because there is no telling what the repercussions of such a fire would be," he said.

"Everyone should try to thwart this plot," al-Thani suggested.

The nuclear issue

The Qatari official also stressed that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue.

"We should realize that that the stability of the region is very important and instead of using force, a solution should be found through talks."

The minister dismissed a report that the Arabs would cooperate with the United States to counter Iran's regional influence.

"We have already said that we will not take part in any threatening operation in the Persian Gulf."

He warned that any attack on Iran would "destabilize" the Persian Gulf, adding that the standoff over the nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue and confidence-building measures.

Asked if he made the trip to inform Iran about the results of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to the region, he replied, "I have no mission to report in this regard. I have come just for consultations."

On the new movements of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, al-Thani said that U.S. forces have been in the Persian Gulf for years but their deployments have now been reinforced, which will "hopefully not cause insecurity in the region."

Bilateral ties

The leaders of Iran and Qatar favor holding bilateral talks to find ways to promote their ties, Mottaki said.

In addition, the two countries' senior economic officials discussed the implementation of bilateral agreements, especially in the area of energy cooperation, he added.

Crises in Palestine and Lebanon

Iran's top diplomat said they also discussed the resolution of differences between Palestinian groups and the need to stand up for the rights of the Palestinian people and their elected government.

On developments in Lebanon, he stated, "Lebanese groups themselves should take the final decision on resolving the issues."

The Qatari chief diplomat announced that his country shares views with Tehran on the need for an agreement between all Lebanese factions and said that no group has the right to impose its will on others.

He called the ongoing conflict between rival Palestinian groups "fratricide".

"Palestinians should understand that through unity they can get their rights from Israel," al-Thani maintained.

... Payvand News - 1/22/07 ... --

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