Asefi says Iran opposes US attack on Iraq


 Tehran, July 1, IRNA -- Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi   
said here on Monday that Iran, like all Muslim and many non-Muslim    
states, is firmly against US attack on Iraq or other countries to     
change or determine their governments and takes this move as cause of 
instability and insecurity.                                           
    Asefi told a press conference that Iraqi Culture Minister's visit 
is in line with Tehran-Baghdad cultural cooperation.                  
    He said Iran and Iraq need cultural cooperation due to sharing    
common borders and Iranian pilgrims' willingness to visit holy sites  
in Iraq. He added that the two countries share common religious       
background.                                                           
    Iran and Iraq share common concerns, which should be removed, said
Asefi, adding that the most important issue which is on agenda of     
Tehran-Baghdad cooperation is settlement of dispute on the remaining  
Prisoners of War (PoWs), exchange of PoWs, solving the                
Missing-in-Action (MiAs) issue and exchange of the dead bodies of     
Iranian martyrs and Iraqis.                                           
    The relations of Iraqi groups with Iran is fully defined and      
Iran's policy on non-dictation of stances to the groups has not       
changed, said Asefi, adding that Iran will not impose its views and   
they decide independently.                                            
    Asked on the outcome of talks between Iranian and Azeri working   
groups, Asefi said talks with Azerbaijan were held in a positive      
atmosphere under mutual understanding.                                
    He said the two countries had called for continuation of talks in 
Tehran to find solutions in favor of both sides and preventing        
unilateral actions and biased interpretations.                        
    He termed as 'baseless pretexts' the charges against Iran that it 
attempts to develop nuclear weapons. "Peaceful cooperation between    
Iran and Russia in Bushehr power plant is under supervision of the    
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and after each inspection it
has been confirmed that Iran's measures follow peaceful intentions,"  
said Asefi.                                                           
    Iran is not after nuclear weapons, Asefi reiterated.              
    He said the world public opinion expect the US to prevent shipment
of destructive arms and weapons of mass destruction to Israel and do  
not turn a blind eye to Israel's actions.                             
    A bright prospect is ahead for Tehran-Moscow ties and they possess
many potential for mutual cooperation, said Asefi, adding that Iranian
and Russian leaders' are determined to utilize the capacities.        
    Asked how the chance for relations with the European Union would  
be used, Asefi said Iran and Europe have constant contacts and it is  
natural to see due measures are adopted by Iran in conformity with the
willingness of Europeans to cooperate with Iran.                      
    He also called as 'contrary to international norms' the claims of 
the US President George W. Bush that the Palestinian Authority Leader 
Yasser Arafat needed to be removed from leadership of the Palestinian 
Authority. "One should speak in a literature that would be welcomed by
the world," said Asefi.                                               
    On the point that who should assume responsibility in Palestine,  
he said, Palestinians should decide and in Iran's view the illogical  
claims that do not go with realities in the Middle East have made the 
situation in the region complicated, said Asefi.                      
    Elsewhere in the interview, Asefi ruled out the claim of certain  
US media that two staffers of Iranian representative office in New    
York had been dismissed on charges of photography.                    
    He said that in the age of Internet and satellite, the points     
certain US officials raise on photography are very interesting. He    
added that it is not clear how a camera can be a threat against a     
country in the age of photography through satellites.                 
    He added that due to the restrictions at Iran's representative    
office in New York for dispatch of experts and other forces, Iran uses
temporary employees. He said the two employees had been temporary     
employees, whose mission had expired and were due to return the       
country.                                                              
    Asefi welcomed the easing of tension in the Indian subcontinent   
and said fortunately crisis between India and Pakistan has been eased 
to a large extent.                                                    
    Iran had since the beginning of the conflict been raising its     
concern which represented Tehran's sense of responsibility, said      
Asefi, stressing that in case of need, Iran is ready to help reduce   
tension between the two neighboring states.                           
    Commenting on the last week visit of Iran's Secretary of the      
Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hojatoleslam Hassan Rohani to
India and Pakistan, Asefi said Iran has cordial relations with India  
and Pakistan.                                                         
    He said both Pakistan and India are important countries in the    
region.                                                               
    He added that in the course of Rohani's visit, the need had been  
stressed for preventing clashes between the two countries and talks   
were held on security and stability in Afghanistan.                   
    He then touched on recent talks between Kuwait and Iraq and said  
Iran is pleased with the understanding reportedly reached between the 
Kuwaiti and Iraqi negotiators and their stress on continuation of     
dialogue to attain a solution.                                        
    He added that Iran hopes Iraq would implement the UN resolutions  
and the two countries would come to the belief to have friendly       
relations without any ambition because eruption of two wars in the    
region have proved that the region can not tolerate any more clashes. 
    He then commented on presence of the US and Israeli forces in     
Turkey to prepare attack on Iraq and said no official and confirmed   
report existed in that respect.                                       
    He stressed that presence of foreign forces, especially the       
Israelis in the region, would not offer any help and it is clear      
that regional issues should be settled through consensus among        
regional states.                                                      
    He said Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi is to pay a two-day       
visit to Cyprus from July 2-3 at an invitation by his Cypriot         
counterpart                                                           
    Asefi said political, cultural and economic cooperation would be  
on agenda of talks between Iranian and Cypriot foreign ministers.     
    Iranian Minister would in meetings with different Cypriot         
officials exchange views on prospect of mutual cooperation and        
relations, according to Asefi.                                        
    Asked on the visit of the US New York Times correspondent Thomas  
Freedman's visit to Tehran, Asefi said Freedman's visit was at his own
request like visits by other foreign correspondents and follows all   
legal process.                                                        
    He stressed that Freedman had been invited by no wing or special  
political faction.                                                    
BG/AH                                                                 
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