September 15, 2008

Iran “Seriously Pursuing” Caucasus Diplomacy

Text of report in English by Iranian conservative news agency Mehr

Tehran, 12 September: Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi on Monday [15 September] said Iran is holding talks with regional and European countries over maintaining stability in the Caucasus region.

Iran is seriously pursuing Caucasus diplomacy Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki's dialogues with Russian and Azeri officials over the issue have been widely welcomed, Qashqavi told reporters during his weekly press briefing.

We believe that these serious talks should continue therefore in the next few hours the foreign minister will discuss the latest developments of the region with German leaders.

Ahmadinezhad may hold talks with 5+1 leaders in New York

Qashqavi did not rule out negotiations between Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad and his counterparts from the UN Security Council member states during his visit to New York.

Ahmadinezhad plans to travel to New York to attend the UN General Assembly next week. This would be the presidents fourth trip to the United States. Ahmadinezhad last addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2007.

IAEA under Western pressure

Qashqavi called on the UN nuclear watchdog not to be swayed by US pressure in its report on Iran's nuclear programme.

The United States is leading efforts to isolate Iran over what it calls Tehran's covert bid to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying it is seeking to generate electricity for a growing population.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the IAEA's report, the spokesman said, we expect the agency ... to perform based on its own regulations and not to be affected by outside pressure, including US pressure.

We are fully expecting the IAEA to remain independent again, to confine its activities to recognized international laws and regulations, he asserted.

Qashqavi said working with the agency has to fall within the parameters of the regulations and also the safeguards and our agreements with the agency.

We are always ready for the continuation of our cooperation within the confines of the modality for agreement, he said.

He stated that Iran would need time to study, to analyse the IAEA report before commenting on its contents.

Iran is has come under three rounds of UN sanctions for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment work.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the UN nuclear watchdog held several rounds of talks in Tehran in August.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana who is representing six world powers in the nuclear negotiations with Tehran held talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Sa'id Jalili in Geneva on 19 July over ending the nuclear standoff between Tehran and the West.

Solana and Jalili also held a telephone conversation in August and vowed to continue nuclear talks.

Iran has repeatedly ruled out suspending uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks with the major powers, insisting that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty it has the right to develop peaceful nuclear technology.

Controversial terms in US-Iraq security pact

Asked about the proposed security pact between Baghdad and Washington, Qashqavi said: we believe there are still important points in the agreement that prevents its final conclusion.

We have repeatedly said that Iraq's national sovereignty and its security is very important for us. We believe the ground should be provided for the Iraqi government to turn the situation of the occupied country to the benefit of its national sovereignty.

Iraq is negotiating with the United States on a new agreement aimed at giving a legal basis for US troops to stay in Iraq after December 31, when their United Nations mandate expires.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari earlier said negotiations over the security agreement are nearly complete and could clear the way for a large-scale withdrawal of troops by 2011.

West promoting anti-Islamic moves

The Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized some Western countries for promoting anti-Islamic movements under the pretext of the freedom of speech.

Certainly today the world needs consensus among different religions and factions. The international community should respect prominent religious figures.

Originally published by Mehr news agency, Tehran, in English 1605 15 Sep 08.

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