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Sunday, February 8, 2009
Larijani meets top European diplomats in Munich
Tehran Times Political Desk
MUNICH – Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani held separate meetings with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Britain and the European Union foreign policy chief on the sidelines of the Munich Conference on Security Policy.
Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East crisis, including the Gaza war, cooperation on Afghanistan, and the removal of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from European Union’s terrorist list were some of the issues discussed.
During his meeting with the European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Larijani said, “Iran will consider new and constructive proposals” about its nuclear program.
Larijani stated that the EU is capable of playing a more constructive role in the international arena, adding, “Iran wishes to continue to hold constructive talks on its nuclear program.”
The senior lawmaker pointed out that the world has entered a new era and that the major powers can no longer follow the same old approaches toward Iran’s nuclear issue.
The EU foreign policy chief pointed to Iran’s significant role in the world and stressed that Iran and the EU should increase their interactions.
The EU wants to cooperate with Iran to address regional issues such as the security situation in Afghanistan.
World must receive Larijani’s ‘constructive message’
German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier on Saturday stated that the international community should receive the Iranian parliament speaker’s “constructive message” delivered at the Munich security conference.
“We hope other members of the global community have also received your constructive message,” Steinmeier said during his meeting with Larijani.
Some media outlets have called the comments made by the Majlis speaker on Friday as the most detailed outline yet of Tehran's expectations of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Larijani said that Germany must play its full part in resolving various issues in the world.
In his speech on Friday, Larijani made proposals for the policy change sought by the new U.S. administration.
Larijani said Obama’s decision to send an envoy to the Middle East to sound out countries in the region is a “positive signal”.
“The U.S. president has announced he will send someone to the Middle East to listen to people and not to dictate,” Larijani told participants at the security meeting.
“This approach is a positive signal,” Reuters quoted Larijani as saying.
Larijani criticizes EU’s double standards
Larijani criticized the West’s double standard approach toward the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) and its response to the launch of satellite by Iran on Monday.
In his meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, he said the European Union’s decision to remove the MKO from the bloc’s terrorist list was a “clear example of its double-standard” approach toward the scourge of terrorism.
The EU removed the group from its terrorist list in January.
Larijani said this policy will undermine the EU’s position toward Iran.
France, Britain, and the U.S. reacted badly to Iran’s recent launch of a satellite.
However, Larijani pointed out that Iran will press ahead with its “scientific and research work”.
Iran successfully launched its first domestically-produced satellite into orbit on Monday. The satellite, called Omid, or hope in Farsi, will conduct telecommunications and research activities.
Apparently some European states wrongly expect that Iran should stop holding “physics classes” at its universities, Iran’s senior lawmaker noted.
The Majlis speaker also noted that the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program is not technical, but rather political, adding, “Iran has no problem cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Kouchner said that dialogue is “the only way to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue.”
The French foreign minister also pointed to Iran’s significant role in the region, saying that without Iran’s cooperation it would not be possible to establish peace in Afghanistan.
During the meeting the two sides exchanged views on Afghanistan and the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.
Kouchner thanked Iran for its cooperation on the Afghanistan and Palestine issues.
The top French diplomat also invited Larijani to visit France to pursue bilateral talks and efforts to help resolve regional problems, especially the rising insecurity in Afghanistan.
Obama must adopt ‘pragmatic strategy’ based on justice
Iran’s parliament speaker said on Friday that the new U.S. administration could repair the damage left by the Bush administration by adopting a “pragmatic strategy based on fair play.”
In contrast to George W. Bush, President Barack Obama has vowed to adopt a new approach to dealing with Iran over its nuclear program.
Larijani said it should become clear whether Obama’s change of tone really means Washington is prepared to work toward a diplomatic solution with Iran.
The United States and its Western allies have been pressing Tehran to renounce its nuclear enrichment program despite the fact that Iran is legally entitled to produce nuclear fuel for civilian uses.
They have put forward a plan according to which Iran will be rewarded if it gives up its enrichment program. However, they have threatened to introduce more sanctions against Iran if it insists on its nuclear work.
“The old carrot and stick cliche must be discarded,” Larijani told participants at the 45th Munich Security Conference