Australian Foreign Minister Arrives in Tehran
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer arrived in Tehran early Sunday for a two-day official visit, the Australian embassy in Tehran told AFP.
According to the embassy, Downer, who is heading a three-man political and economic delegation, is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi on Sunday for discussions on a wide range of bilateral and international issues.
Last week, the embassy announced that Downer is looking to "expand considerably" the "well-established and growing trade and investment links between Australia and Iran in the economic area."
"Constructive high-level discussions on issues of regional and global importance including arms control, the Middle East, human rights, and efforts to combat organized people-smuggling," will be high on the minister's agenda, the embassy said.
According to Australian ambassador Stuart Hume quoted by the English-language Iran Daily on Sunday, Downer "wants to familiarize himself with the current political, economic and social situation in Iran, because we are clearly witnessing a process of change and transition."
"Iran has been an extremely important trading partner for Australia for many years in the Middle East. In fact, the country is our largest trading partner ... so we attach much importance to ties with Iran at a commercial level," the daily quoted Hume as saying.
Downer, who is the second Australian FM to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, will meet President Mohammad Khatami and a wide range of other senior officials on Monday.
Iran and Australia enjoy good relations, notably in the commercial sector.
In 1998, trade between the two countries reached 300 million dollars, of which 275 million dollars represented Iranian imports of Australian goods, in particular agricultural produce and coal - TEHRAN (AFP)
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