|Iran delivers formal complaint to Austria over Ashton’s meeting with activists||
TEHRAN – Iran has delivered a formal complaint to the Austrian Embassy in Tehran for arranging an “unsanctioned” meeting between visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton and a number of Iranian female rights activists.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said such acts could increase the Iranian people’s suspicions about the West.
Ashton, who is coordinating talks between the six world powers and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear program, arrived in Tehran on Saturday for an official visit. It was the first visit to Tehran by an EU foreign policy chief in nearly 6 years.
“Such acts will not help improve relations between Iran and the European Union,” Afkham said.
“Contact with (civil) society is recognized in diplomatic protocol as long as it does not constitute interference in internal affairs and respects customs,” she added.
Ashton held a meeting with seven Iranian human rights activists, including opposition figure Narges Mohammadi, on March 8, which is International Women’s Day.
Also, the deputy chief of the general staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Massoud Jazayeri, said such a meeting “violated diplomatic principles” and is a harbinger of future interference in Iran’s internal affairs.
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