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Asharq Al-Awsat Interviews Iran's Deputy FM Ali Reza Sheikh Attar - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Bagdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar stated that the current top-level discussions between Tehran and Baghdad with a view to amending some provisions of the Algiers Agreement cannot lead to anything new, and no provision of the agreement can be amended. He stated that his country intends to sign 10 agreements with Iraq and is considering a loan to Iraq worth $1 billion to implement projects connected with the infrastructure in Iraq. He added that the relations between his country and the Gulf States are special and that Iran supports Hezbollah with ideas, but does not supply it with weapons.

Attar held intensive discussions with Iraqi officials to coordinate, prepare, and organize the documents for the agreements to be signed during the visit to Iraq of Iranian President Ahmadinejad. He continued in his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that: “The Algiers Agreement is a clear, international, and registered document; it does not need any amendments, and no amendment can be made to it. The two parties have undertaken to implement its provisions when they signed it. Moreover, the provisions of this agreement are being studied by experts from both countries currently, in order that it is implemented in accordance with its provisions at the time.”

The Iranian deputy foreign minister explained that, during the visit to Iraq of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, he will discuss with Iraqi officials the political, economic, and cultural relations between the two countries and other issues that will help to establish peaceful and stable borders between the two countries. This is in addition to his intention to sign 10 agreements with Iraq and the issue of a loan to Iraq worth $1 billion.

On the demand by some parties in Iraq to reconsider the Algiers Agreement concluded between Iraq and Iran in 1975, according to which the border between the two countries was drawn, Attar stated: “These groups that are calling for the amendment of the agreement have no knowledge of international law, which was the basis for signing the agreement. According to international law, any agreement ratified by the United Nations cannot be changed by [individual] states.”

The Iranian official expressed the readiness of his country to do anything within its power in order to see an Iraq that is stable, developing, and free from terrorism. He added: “There are Iranian experts studying in depth the issue of helping the Iraqi Government in combating terrorism and assassination, their causes, and the parties who stand behind such things and other criminal operations, where intensive efforts still are continuing in order to deal with them and find solutions for them.”

The Iranian official made a connection between stability in the region and the implementation of joint economic projects, stating: “One of the main pillars of reconciliation and stability in the region is to create joint economic projects. History has proven that the more developed economic relations are between two countries, the more this will contribute to consolidating other matters.” He continued: “The stability and security of Iraq are of primary importance to Iran. It is one of the objectives that we are trying to help the Iraqis to achieve, because it reflects on Iran positively, and any terrorist tension in Iraq reflects on Iran negatively.” He stressed the necessity for exploiting this opportunity to consolidate what he described as “the fundamentals of establishing peaceful and friendly borders between the two countries.” He explained that the visit of the Iranian president to Iraq aims to achieve this objective, and he expected a successful outcome for this visit. This is in view of the results of his discussions over the last three days with Iraqi officials in preparation for the visit, and in view of the proximity of their points of view.

The Iranian official explained that the joint oil fields between the two countries will be exploited according to the relevant rules of international law, and that the issues of oil and energy will be the subject of detailed discussions between the Iranian delegation and Iraqi officials. This is especially because both countries are OPEC members, and both are bound by agreements regulating the work of the international organization. The two parties also will exchange modern technical and technological expertise in the field of oil.

The Iranian deputy foreign minister launched a fierce attack on what he called “the axis of hypocrisy” of the United States, Western countries, and some of Washington’s allies. This is because of the incorrect policies of the United States and its attempt to implicate other states in the region to follow its policies, in an attempt to distort the image of Iran in the international community.

Regarding the accusations leveled against Iran by several parties that are accusing Iran of sheltering Al-Qaeda leaders and its support of extremist groups throughout the world, the Iranian official replied: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the states that suffered a lot from terrorist attacks and was one of the victims when the previous Iraqi regime used to shelter and support the terrorists, together with the knowledge and facilitation of some countries in the region.” He stressed that Iran is engaged in fighting terrorism by all means at present.

The Iranian official accused the United States and some Western countries of sheltering terrorist groups and offering them facilities and other support, as well as of using the terrorist groups in creating violence and chaos in many parts of the world. He denied that the issue of the groups that oppose Iran and are present in Iraq will be discussed by Iraqi and Iranian Presidents Talabani and Ahmadinejad. He stated that the position of the two countries with regard to these groups is the same, and it is clear that there are more important matters than these groups.

Attar criticized some regional states for their role in repeating the slogans and statements that were made by President Bush in his verbal attacks on Iran, but which Attar regarded as false. “The allegations made by George Bush and his entourage have no substance and lack credibility; we give no value to such allegations.”

On the relations between Iran and the Arab states, Attar described these relations as distinguished. “Our relations with the Gulf States are at their best, and the strongest evidence regarding this is the exchange of visits between the heads of these states and President Ahmadinejad, in addition to our strong ties with Syria and the sizable economic relationship with Egypt.”

In his interview, Attar also talked about the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran by stating: “We support Hezbollah ideologically, and the leaders of Hezbollah are inspired by the values of the Iranian revolution, but there is no Iranian role or Iranian weapons supporting Hezbollah.”

With regard to the economic sanctions that Washington is waving in Iran’s face, Attar revealed that Iran now is much more powerful than it has been at any time previously, that it can resist the pressure that the United States and other Western countries are trying to impose on it, and that these states will not produce any results from this pressure. He stated: “US and European threats and pressure have been continuing for the past two years, especially the economic sanctions; however, over the past two years, the Iranian economy has developed by 5.5 percent per year. This indicates the presence of a strong and active economy. The threats will not achieve anything, and the states of the world, particularly the European states, are continuing to deal with us.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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