Zapatero tells Larijani: Spain ready to build ‘trust’ between Iran and EU

February 11, 2009

MADRID – The Spanish prime minister declared on Monday that his country is ready to act as a “bridge” in building “confidence” between Iran and the European Union.

“Spain is ready to act as a bridge in building conference in relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the European Union by using all its potential,” Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero told visiting Iranian Majlis speaker Ali Larijani on Monday.
Zapatero also stressed that Madrid is fully prepared to develop constructive cooperation with the Iran in all areas.
The Spanish socialist leader also called for efforts to help stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan and launch an effective campaign against terrorism and drug trafficking.
The two sides also discussed bilateral ties including energy cooperation.
Spain will “welcome” any idea which would lead to “constructive dialogue” between Iran and the 27-nation European bloc, the prime minister noted.
Turning to Palestine, the Spanish prime minister said, “All should make efforts for Palestinian unity.”
For his part, Larijani said, “The return of calm to Palestine is mainly dependent on opening all border crossings into Gaza and involving all Palestinians groups in negotiations.”
“No group should be an exception,” Larijani noted.
Zapatero also insisted on the important role of Iran in helping to promote peace and security in the Middle Eastern region.
Bono: Iran, Spain have great potential for economic cooperation
Larijani also held talks with his Spanish counterpart Jose Bono on economic, political and parliamentary ties and exchanged views on regional issues including the rising insurgency in Afghanistan.
Bono said Iran and Spain have great potential for economic cooperation. However, he said this capacity has not been used properly so far.
Larijani welcomed talks for increasing economic and trade ties between the two sides, the Mehr News Agency reporters from Madrid reported.
He left for Madrid on Wednesday for a two-day visit after attending the Munich Security Conference.
Larijani said Tehran welcomes dialogue with Madrid on regional issues including Afghanistan.
As a NATO member, Spain already has some 750 military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.
The two speakers also discussed the Gaza crisis. Larijani thanked Bono for his country’s position in condemning the Zionist regime’s crimes in the Gaza Strip.
Larijani also invited Bono to visit Tehran.
The Iranian speaker expressed hope that the new U.S. administration would act soon to rectify the legacy left by the Bush administration which led to death and injury of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq.
Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero incurred Washington’s wrath more than four years ago by pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq immediately after coming to power in a surprise election win. To make up for the withdrawal, Zapatero strengthened Spain’s NATO deployment in Afghanistan, which -- unlike the Iraq invasion -- had been sanctioned by the UN’s Security Council.
Tehran waiting for U.S. policy change
Larijani, in a separate meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, said Tehran is waiting for changes in the U.S. policies.
“With a conservative attitude, we are awaiting changes in the U.S. policies. Comments of the U.S. officials on the issue are not enough,” he added.
According to IRNA, he said no definite plan has yet been observed on the U.S. part and “had we had such a plan for settlement of problems, we could have made better comments on the future trend of cooperation between the two countries.”
On Europe’s role in solving the Middle East problems, he said, “Europe can play a positive role in connection with the issue on condition that all parties be officially recognized and taken into consideration in the dialogues. In this respect, role of Hamas elected government should be definitely taken into consideration. And as a requisite for settlement of the Middle East problems, all doors should be opened so that people would live their ordinary life and the ground would be prepared for holding effective talks to get out of the current stalemate.”
On Afghanistan problem, the two sides were of the opinion that the strategies adopted so far to solve the problem have not been effective, so they should be revised and that military option should be avoided.
“If foreign forces present in Afghanistan are ready to present a new solution, the Islamic Republic of Iran too will be ready to contribute to settlement of the problem with a new approach,” Larijani said.
As for Iraq, Larijani said Iraq’s experience has been a one-sided experience.
”Iran is ready to provide necessary assistance for establishment of political stability in Iraq as before,” he added