Iran’s Khatami to visit Spain
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is expected to arrive on a three-day visit Monday to Spain that Madrid views as critical both to strengthen EU-Tehran relations, revived this year under Spain's EU presidency, and to offset Washington's view of Tehran as part of an "axis of evil".
The international crisis with Baghdad, the Middle East situation, and bilateral as well as EU-Iranian ties will top Khatami's discussions with Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a diplomatic source said.
The Iranian leader will be joined by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi and Economy Minister Tashmasb Mazaheri in a visit that responds to one Aznar made to Tehran back in October 2000.
The source added that the trip was essential for "the overall political and economic dialogue the EU maintains with Iran, in a perspective that differs with that of the United States."
With regards to bilateral issues, Madrid hopes Khatami's visit will help move along efforts by several big Spanish companies to establish energy projects in the Islamic republic, notably the oil group Repsol-YPF's bid to move into Iran's natural gas sector, AFP said.
When he arrives Monday afternoon, the Iranian leader will be welcomed at the royal palace by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, though they will forego the usual gala evening banquet for a private dinner to head off any protocol gaffes, given Khatami's adherence to Islamic law.
Khatami and Aznar are to meet Tuesday, followed by talks between both country's delegations and a joint press conference.
Three bilateral accords on customs formalities, tourism and investment protection are expected to be signed.
On Wednesday, Khatami is scheduled to take part in the inauguration of a new forum for business chiefs from both countries, then meet with public officials before concluding his visit on Thursday.(Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)