Solana: EU determined to better relations with Iran
European nations' attempts to improve relations with Iran are hampered by Tehran's intent to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a senior European Union envoy said Monday.
Javier Solana, the EU high representative for foreign and security policy, addressed reporters following talks with President Mohammad Khatami and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi. The European Union (EU) was "determined to improve ties" with Iran, he said, adding that dialogue would encourage reform in the Islamic republic.
Solana said that EU calls for expansion of diplomatic, parliamentary and trade ties with Iran. He also said that EU and Iran can forge closer cooperation on international issues. EU is ready to share its experiences and points of views on the reform drive in Iran, he added.
But, Solana identified two issues as "serious obstacles" to better Iran-EU relations that Iran must address - - "One is the issue of acquiring weapons of mass destruction and the other is Iran's approach to the Middle East," Solana made clear.
Meanwhile, state-run Tehran radio reported that Khatami had told Solana his government was serious in pursuing "Islamic democracy." "What has begun in Iran is an attempt to show the true image of Islam -- that is to say a religion which is compatible with democracy and meets the basic freedoms of the people as well as scientific and economic progress," the radio quoted Khatami as saying.
IRNA said Monday that Solana's visit was aimed at familiarizing him with Iran's internal developments. Solana said the European Union has been following those developments, and he called for Iranian press freedom.
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)