MAJLES TO QUESTION KHARRAZI ON HIS IRAQI POLICY

TEHRAN 16 Feb. (IPS) Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister escaped Sunday a motion of censor after Mr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the deputy vice Speaker rejected the decision of more than hundred of lawmakers questioning Mr. Kamal Kharrazi on his invitation to his Iraqi counterpart Naji Sabri, stating that the motion would weaken the position of the Iranian diplomacy at this particular international conjecture.

In the motion, the deputies, among them both reformists and independents, criticised Mr. Kharrazi for the visit that they considered as was both "untimely and interpreted as Iran defending the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hoseyn".

But analysts said the move would cause no problem for Mr. Kharrazi, as the younger brother of the lamed President, who is also the leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), the country’s largest political organisation that also has the greatest number of deputies in the Majles, has opposed the move.

In a press conference on the same day, Mr. Kharrazi, responding to reporter’s question on the visit, explained that in order to prevent a war in the region, Tehran was in consultations with all the parties involved in the Iraqi crisis, including the Iraqis, but did not meant Iran’s support for Mr. Hoseyn.

But he did not explain why Iran always denies categorically reports about Iran-US talks and cooperation on Iraq.

"No one in Iran is happy with the Saddam regime, but we are talking about defending principles, opposing United States and Israel’s hegemony", he said, without naming Britain, Washington’s staunchest and most active ally in its plans to attack Baghdad and remove Saddam Hoseyn.

Mr. Sabri was due in Tehran on January, but following strong opposition from both the public and the Majles, President Mohammad Khatami cancelled the visit, observing that Baghdad had not responded to Iranian conditions concerning the 1975 Algiers Agreement and payment of war damages to Iran.

However, he did come to Tehran last week, unexpectedly and unannounced and a time that the Majles was in vacation for the end of the great Haj pilgrimage of the Muslims to Mecca, Sauid Arabia, angering even more the people.

Observers said since the leader, and not the president, decides on the major lines of Iranian foreign policy, therefore, the visit of Sabri could not have taken place without the prior authorisation from Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i.

"We told Mr. Sabri that Iraq should fully cooperate with the United Nations and also urged him to be positive on our legitimate demands", Kharrazi told journalists

Lawmaker criticises the Foreign Affairs Minister on its "weak and unjustifiable" performances concerning safeguarding national interests, "untimely" diplomatic decisions that, in their view, harms image of the nation and refusal of the Iraqi regime in responding to Iran claims.

"Inviting Mr. Sabri at a time that the life of Saddam and his regime are numbered is absolutely inexcusable. The public cannot understand why we should support a man who, not only has imposed war on our nation, killed and wounded millions of Iranians, destroyed thousands of towns and villages, refused to pay compensations and used deadly chemical weapons against his own people, particularly the Kurds", one deputy told Iran Press service on condition not being named.

Mr. Baha’eddin Adab, a deputy from the Kurdish town of Sanandaj expressed the same view when he told the Persian service of the BBC that the regime’s so-called "positive neutrality" was "inadequate".

"Not only our foreign policy is not up to the complexity of the situation in the region, but also one does not understand why we should oppose democratisation of Iraq", he said.

"From the outset, the line adopted by the Foreign Affairs Ministry was under question in the Majles and the answers the deputies heard from the officials were not convincing, chiefly about our policy concerning Iraq. In this respect, we could not understand the last visit of the Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister, one of the men responsible for the massacre of our people", he asked.

Mr. Kharrazi has few day to come to the parliament and answer to questions from angry deputies, but observers say even if he fails to satisfy, he would not be impeached, since the majority of the lawmakers, from both the reformists majority and conservative minority would oppose his resignation. ENDS KHARRAZI INTERPELLED 16203

 

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