EU sidesteps row over Iran envoy's arrest
Financial Times - By Judy Dempsey in Brussels, Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran and Adam Thomson in Buenos Aires
Aug 27, 2003
European Union officials were trying to prevent its relations with Iran becoming embroiled in the latest diplomatic row involving Tehran and Brussels on Wednesday.
The attempt to keep bilateral issues separate from the EU's broader strategy with Iran came after Belgian security forces tried to arrest a senior Iranian diplomat serving in Brussels.
Last week Britain arrested Hadi Soleimanpour, the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, after Argentina had requested his extradition for alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires that killed 84 people.
The Belgians were acting on Interpol instructions to arrest Saeed Baghban, third secretary in the Brussels embassy.
The request was in response to extradition proceedings recently begun by Juan José Galeano, an Argentine judge who has named eight former Iranian diplomats being sought for their alleged participation in the Jewish centre bombing.
Mr Baghban, responsible for consular affairs, was leaving the country when the security services tried to arrest him.
Antoine Eurard, Belgium's chargé d'affaires in Iran, was summoned to the foreign ministry and asked to ensure Mr Baghban's early release. Mr Baghban was questioned and allowed return to the embassy after the Belgian foreign ministry confirmed his diplomatic immunity.
Belgian diplomats said they did not expect any moves by the Iranian authorities to expel any of their embassy staff. Iran has threatened to expel Britain's ambassador to Tehran and downgrade diplomatic relations in protest at Mr Soleimanpour's arrest.
Diplomats are concerned that the poor relations between Britain and Iran - which had markedly improved over the past year - could spill over into broader relations between Tehran and the EU.
The EU, with strong backing from London, had recently started negotiations on a lucrative trade and co-operation agreement (TCA) with Iran.
Progress on the trade issues is linked to progress on political issues, such as human rights, fighting terrorism, Middle East peace and Iran's compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In recent weeks the TCA talks have stalled - but not officially suspended - as the EU awaits next month's report on Iran's nuclear programme by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A Commission official said: "We are waiting to see what the IAEA concludes. We do not want any bilateral issues to impinge on EU relations with Iran."
The Iranian government has cut off economic and cultural ties with Argentina, though not diplomatic relations, over the arrest warrants. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_1988.shtml
Sorry, having now read this article in the thread I can see my question is moot. Too much money to be made dealing with the "democratic" government of Iran to worry about substantive things like murder.