Iran-EU talks beyond nuclear issue: Musavian
Dec. 14 - Irans nuclear spokesman Hossein Musavian said on Tuesday that the Brussels talks were beyond the issue of Irans nuclear program, saying, The negotiations were mainly aimed at the expansion of all-out relations between Iran and Europe.
During the three-month period of the joint working groups activities, Europe has the opportunity to prove its seriousness, good-will and commitment to Iran, Musavian told the Mehr News Agency correspondent in Brussels.
The spokesman said that so far the negotiating sides have agreed on the working groups agenda.
He announced that the working groups were to start their work officially on December 14 and that the initial results of their activities should be tangible by March 14.
Musavian stressed that there would be no reason for Iran to continue with the working groups activities if it sees no progress in negotiations.
But if the working groups produce practical results and accomplishments, we can be hopeful over the continuation of talks, he added.
Referring to the agenda of the joint working groups, Musavian stated that peaceful nuclear cooperation and confidence-building guarantees are two official issues that will be discussed in the nuclear working group.
The political-security committee will study issues related to the national security of both sides as well as the issue of weapons of mass destruction and regional security, he added./MNA-
Iran may sway Iraq elections, some fear
The New York Times
December 15, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- On a list of 228 candidates submitted by a powerful Shiite-led political alliance to Iraq's electoral commission last week, Abdulaziz al-Hakim's name was entered as No. 1. It was the clearest indication yet that in the upcoming January elections, with Iraq's Shiite majority likely to heavily outnumber Sunni voters, al-Hakim may emerge as the country's most powerful political figure.
Al-Hakim is a preeminent example of a class of Iraqi Shiite leaders with close ties to Iran's ruling ayatollahs. His political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was founded in Tehran.
The question of Iranian influence will weigh heavily as election campaigning formally begins today among more than 230 parties and political groups that have entered lists of candidates.
Ghazi al-Yawer, the Sunni Arab sheik who was named Iraq's interim president, and King Abdullah of Jordan have both sounded warnings over the past week.
In a BBC interview Monday in London, al-Yawer cited reports that Iran had pushed up to a million people across the 900-mile border with Iraq in a bid to influence the elections, and that Iranian money was flowing covertly to Shiite religious groups competing in the election.
"There are some elements in Iran playing a role in trying to influence the elections," he said.
For the United States, and for Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which have Sunni Muslim majorities, the prospect of al-Hakim and his associates coming to power raises in stark form the brooding issue of Iran's future influence in Iraq.
And among Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, the fear of a Shiite-led government heavily influenced by Iran has helped drive a powerful insurgency.