Iran Reiterates Attendance in Iraq Talks with US

A01368421.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency) Iran believes in the need for talks with the US over Iraq in principle, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said, assuring that Tehran and Washington would attend a fourth round of talks on Iraq’s security at ambassadorial level.

Speaking to reporters during his weekly press conference here on Monday, Hosseini said Tehran has informed Iraq of its views about talks with the US, and added, “We agree with the principle of holding talks.”

Meantime, he reminded that Tehran would not attend such talks with the US at any level higher than ambassadors, saying, “Iran-US talks would be held at an ambassadorial level at most.”

Hosseini stressed that the date of the talks “would be fixed during consultations.”

Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi, his US counterpart Ryan Crocker and representatives of the Iraqi government have so far attended three rounds of talks on May 28, July 24 and August 6, respectively.

Elsewhere, Hosseini strongly condemned Israeli excavations in the Muslim holy al-Aqsa Mosque, an effort by the Zionist regime to divide the mosque and change its religious and historical structure.

The so-called excavation efforts by the Israelis have sparked widespread protests by not only the Palestinians and Muslim nations, but also the international, archaeological and cultural bodies which have warned that continuation of the excavations would undermine the foundation of the holy mosque.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman warned international bodies as well as Arab and Islamic countries to take the required measures to deter the Israeli regime from continuing such a provocative action.

In another part of the conference, Hosseini noted recent efforts by Tehran and Cairo to resume long severed ties, and stressed that the two countries’ issues and problems could be solved through mutual efforts.

“Iran-Egypt issues can be solved through the serious resolve and strong will of the two sides’ senior officials,” he said, underlining the two countries’ determination to continue talks at various levels.

Also in response to questions about a current visit to Cairo by Iran’s former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, the spokesman said, “Mr. Larijani’s visit was personal but due to the Egyptian officials’ familiarity with his personality, several meetings were held between Larijani and Egyptian officials.”

He also dismissed speculations that an upcoming visit to Egypt by Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel is in any way related to Larijani’s current trip to the country, reminding that while Larijani is on a personal trip, Haddad Adel’s visit would be aimed at a bolstering of parliamentary cooperation between the two sides.

Elsewhere, the spokesman stressed Tehran’s resolve to expand ties with the Persian Gulf littoral states, saying that development of relations and bolstering of cooperation with the Arab states on the rim of the Persian Gulf sets a priority for Iran’s foreign policy.

“The Islamic Republic believes in the significance of this region and it underlines the need for the reinvigoration of peace, stability and security in this region,” he said, adding, “We believe that there reside abundant potentials for the expansion of and consolidation of Iran’s ties with each of these countries, which must be utilized.”

“We believe strong ties among the Persian Gulf regional states would increase and strengthen stability, security, tranquility and peace in this region,” Hosseini continued.

Regarding ties with other neighboring nations, the spokesman reiterated Tehran’s stance on the possession of a minimum 20 percent share in the Caspian Sea, and viewed efforts to make Iran concede to an 11.3 percent share of the Sea as fruitless.

“We have frankly announced that the Islamic Republic is not opposed to the division of the Sea provided that the given division plan produces fair results,” he added.

“And all the technical and legal consultations, meetings and talks among the Caspian Sea littoral states are led on the same basis,” Hosseini reiterated.

“The Caspian Sea legal regime will be determined on the basis of the principle of fairness which has its own technical and legal definition in the international law. And on the basis of the same principle, the Islamic Republic’s share will be 20 percent. We have always attended meetings and striven to gain such a share and we may not come short of this (volume of) share” he underscored.

The spokesman further dismissed earlier reports alleging that Iran’s borders with Pakistan have been closed.

Different sources on Sunday said that Iran had closed its border with Pakistan on Saturday in view of the uncertainty in Pakistan.

According to sources, the Iranian authorities informed Pakistani border officials about the closure of the border with Pakistan for an indefinite period.

Sources said the Iranian government had taken the decision after unrest in Panjgur, Turbat, Gwadar, Mand and Taftan areas of Balochistan.

But Hosseini underlined that the two countries’ “borders have not been closed and are open”.

Asked why Iran did not attend the funeral procession of the assassinated Pakistani opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, he said, “Iran voiced its preparedness to take part in the funeral but Pakistani officials did not agree with it due to special conditions prevailing in that country.”

Hosseini termed Bhutto’s assassination “a tragic event”, and further expressed the hope that efforts made by the government and different parties of Pakistan would restore peace and clam in that country as soon as possible.

Also in response to questions about recent expansion of Iran’s military ties and defensive cooperation with another neighboring country, Russia, the spokesman stressed the defensive nature of Iran’s arms deals with Moscow, reiterating that such ties and contracts are held within the boundaries of the international rules and regulations.

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