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Iran threatens to expel UK ambassador

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran and Christopher Adams in London

Published: August 27 2003 0:38

Iran is threatening to expel Britain's ambassador to Tehran and downgrade diplomatic relations over the arrest in the UK of a former Iranian diplomat.

An expulsion and a downgrading of ties, possibly to chargé d'affaires level, would be a setback for Britain's strategy of "constructive engagement" with Iran. Jack Straw, foreign secretary, has visited Tehran several times and claims a good working relationship with his Iranian counterpart.

Iran's response could lead to European Union retaliatory action, western diplomats have warned. The threat comes days before EU foreign ministers are due to meet to discuss Iran's progress in complying with international demands to open its nuclear programme to tougher inspections.

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday said Iran had improved its co-operation with inspectors, but "a number of important outstanding issues" were unresolved. Iran has said it is ready to discuss an agreement that would permit intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Diplomats in Tehran on Tuesday voiced fears that Iran was on the verge of expelling Richard Dalton, who arrived in December but is now on leave in the UK.

The threat, which diplomats said the Iranian leadership had made explicit within the last few days, follows the arrest in Britain of a former Iranian ambassador over the bombing in 1994 of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.

An Argentine judge is seeking the extradition of eight Iranians, including Hadi Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador to Argentina when the bomb explosion killed 85 people. Mr Soleimanpour was arrested last week in Durham.

Britain maintains the arrest is a judicial matter and the government cannot interfere.
39 posted on 08/26/2003 9:43:03 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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Don't put troops under US control, Iran tells India

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | August 26, 2003 18:23 IST

Iraq must have a multinational force under the overall supervision of the United Nations instead of the occupational forces led by the United States, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told Indian leaders during his meetings on Sunday.

While asserting that his country wants to see a peaceful and progressive Iraq, Kharrazi cautioned India against sending troops under American command.

During his brief visit - described by Indian officials as a transit halt en route to China, Japan and Malaysia - Kharrazi called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.

"During the discussions, there was a review of the progress in bilateral co-operation since the visit of President [Mohammed] Khatami," an external affairs ministry spokesman said.

The two sides expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far and hoped to convene a meeting of the Indo-Iran Joint Commission co-chaired by the foreign ministers of both countries, in December.

They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and 'both sides expressed full support to the government of President [Hamid] Karzai and looked forward to the constitutional Loya Jirga (council of tribal leaders) scheduled for later this year and elections next year', the spokesman said.

India and Iran expressed concern at the support that remnants of the Taliban are receiving from outside.

While Kharrazi reiterated Tehran's commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the two sides chose to ignore a recent report in a Pakistani paper claiming that India is helping Iran's suspected nuclear and chemical weapons programmes.

Describing the allegation as silly, the spokesman said it did not even figure in the talks with Kharrazi. "It is not difficult to imagine why such a report has appeared in the Pakistani press at this particular point of time. It is better not to take cognizance of such rubbish," he said on Monday.

An Iranian official in New Delhi said the report in the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times was 'imaginative'. India and Iran had 'strong bilateral relations, but there is no cooperation in nuclear and chemical weapons programmes'.

Kharrazi also raised the issue of a gas pipeline from Iran to India through Pakistan, but was told the security situation was not conducive for such a project.
40 posted on 08/26/2003 9:44:43 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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