Iran Calls for Arrangement of Summit of Iraq’s Neighbors in Baghdad

Tehran believes that the summit of the foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighboring states should be held in Baghdad, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.

Speaking to reporters during his weekly press conference here in Tehran on Sunday, Hosseini said that talks still continue among Iran, Iraq and other neighboring states about the date, venue and nature of the summit.

He pointed to the nature of the summit and reminded that security and stability of Iraq constitute the raison detre for the arrangement of the ministerial summit of Iraq’s neighboring states, adding that Iraq and its neighbors hold different views about the date and location of the meeting.

Asked why Iraqi Prime Minister’s plane was barred from Iran’s airspace, the spokesman stressed that the issue should be viewed from a technical aspect, and said the plane had not taken the required permissions before using Iran’s airspace.

Elsewhere, he pointed to the Arab Union’s first time invitation to Iranian foreign minister for attending the 19th Arab Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and said, “Although Iran is neither a member state nor holds an observer status in the Union, it was invited to the summit and the Iranian foreign minister could meet with 20 Arab and Muslim heads of state, foreign ministers, UN Secretary General and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on the sidelines of the summit.”

Hosseini further voiced pleasure in the positive result of the summit and meetings of the Iranian foreign minister with the participant officials, which he said mainly focused on bilateral ties, expansion of political and economic relations, issues of the world of Islam, Muslim unity, development of regional cooperation and avenues for enhanced ties and cooperation between Iran and the Arab Union.

He also voiced pleasure in the approval of Iran’s observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which granted the permission to Iran to attend the next SAARC summit scheduled to be held in the Maldives in 2008.

Hosseini said that approval of Iran’s observer status serves enhanced regional solidarity and consolidated regional relations, describing it as an opportunity for Iran to make use of the potentials of other SAARC members.

SAARC, which groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and recently Afghanistan, approved Iran’s observer status despite intense objections from the side of the western powers.

Pointing to Iran’s plans for enhancing Muslim solidarity, the spokesman said that expansion of ties with Islamic states is among Tehran’s main principles.

He said enemies seek to foment strives and conflict among Muslims and Iran is, thus, decisive to draw comprehensive plans to promote relations with Islamic countries.

Asked to comment on a letter from London to Tehran on the issue of the 15 British troops who trespassed on Iran’s territorial waters and were subsequently arrested by Iranian forces in Arvand River in the northern part of the Persian Gulf on March 23, Hosseini said in a letter submitted to the Iranian embassy Britain mentioned that its marines did not pursue any hostile intentions when trespassing Iran’s waters and pledged to avoid repetition of such measures in future.

He said, “A letter was delivered to us through the two countries’ embassies, which mentioned that they did not pursue hostile intentions and would avoid such measures in future.”

He further dismissed reports about a letter addressed by the world Catholic Church leader, Pope Benedict XVI, to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, about the 15 British marines.

The spokesman also stressed that no British delegation visited Tehran for the release of the 15 British troops.

He also denied any possible link between the issue of the 15 British troops with such other issues as the freedom of Iranian diplomat Jalal Sharafi.

The spokesman said that the Red Cross envoys have met the 5 Iranian consulate staffers in detention in Iraq for a second time, but meantime he dismissed reports about a meeting between a member of the Iranian embassy in Baghdad with the said 5 missioners.
Asked to comment on the recent statements by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voicing her preparedness to attend direct talks with her Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the summit of the foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighboring states, Hosseini said the issue is not on the working agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Regarding Iran’s nuclear issue, he confirmed recent talks between Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and EU Foreign policy Chief Javier Solana, stressing that nuclear negotiations should be goal-oriented.

“Iran’s absolute and indispensable right cannot be put to negotiation,” the foreign ministry spokesman underlined, adding, “Suspension of uranium enrichment is in no way on Iran’s agenda because we believe it runs counter to regulations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). We find no logic in doing so,” he said.

He underscored that Tehran would negotiate without any preconditions just to remove ambiguities and concerns and in order to prove that there is no diversion in it’s nuclear activities.

Elsewhere, he described reports about a possible raid by Israel and the US on Iran’s nuclear facilities and installations as media stories, reminding that the US officials have stressed both in their words and stances that they do not have any program for military operations.

“Our military troops are fully vigilant and they have already foreseen all the required measures of deterrence and defense and thus, they are not worried at all,” Hosseini continued.

In response to another question about financial disputes between Iran and Russia over the completion of Bushehr nuclear power plant, Hosseini underscored that there exists no problem or dispute between Tehran and Moscow.

He stressed, “We have no debt to Russia. Bushehr power plant is ready for fueling.”

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