By Mehdi Sepahvand, Political Editor

Tehran says still can’t understand why Canada unilaterally cut ties

October 21, 2018 - 20:42

TEHRAN - Tehran still cannot understand why Canada unilaterally severed diplomatic ties with Iran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told the Tehran Times on Sunday after a former Canadian diplomat had criticized Ottawa for the current diplomatic blackout.

“This still remains an unanswered question for us,” Qassemi said, adding Tehran has already held several meetings with the current Canadian administration with the hope to resume relations.

Dennis Horak, the former Canadian diplomat, recently criticized the country’s legal system for the current state of affairs between Ottawa and Tehran.

The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to re-establish relations with Iran is due to its adherence to a “stupid” Canadian law allowing the seizure of Iranian assets, Horak said last week.
Qassemi said Tehran considers as “a bizarre precedent” the ruling by the Canadian parliament that forbids the government from pursuing talks with Iran. “Iran has on many occasions decried this law, recognizing it as a flawed innovation in international law, violating governments’ immunity.”

“Notwithstanding that, however, with the coming of the Liberal government and through bilateral consent, we pursued negotiations with the incumbent Canadian government in multiple stages in Tehran and a third country. We announced our readiness for opening the consular sections of the two countries. But it seems the Canadian government, for domestic concerns, is not fully ready and cannot take a firm step to develop relations.”

The Iranian diplomat concluded by saying that Tehran is ready for “any measures and negotiations” that could facilitate services to Iranian nationals in Canada. “The Canadian government is aware of this issue.”

Six years ago, the previous Conservative government of Canada abruptly severed its diplomatic relations with Iran, shuttering its embassy in Tehran and expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada.

The current Liberal government campaigned in 2015 on re-establishing diplomatic relations with Iran but it has been unable to deliver on that foreign policy promise. Canadian media on Saturday pointed the finger at Iran for not following efforts to resume ties.

Among other things, the Canadian law paved the way for last year’s Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that upheld the seizure of USD1.7 billion in private Iranian assets by a group of American plaintiffs whose loved ones were killed in attacks which the court claimed were sponsored by the Iran.

“It was a stupid law. And it’s still a stupid law,” Horak told a meeting of the Canadian International Council in Ottawa.

“But we’re stuck with it.”

Horak, who was the Canadian foreign ministry’s director of Middle East relations in 2012, said the three major federal parties supported the law.


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