Thursday, November 25, 2004

Iran Vows Not to Interfere in Iraqi Elections

Iran Vows Not to Interfere in Iraqi Elections: "Iran Vows Not to Interfere in Iraqi Elections

Hala Boncompagni
Agence France Presse, Arab News
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, 24 November 2004 — Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi pledged yesterday his country would not meddle in Iraq’s US-backed elections but was adamant that did not signal any warmer ties with Washington.

Kharrazi also dismissed the “ridiculous” accusation by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that his country was trying to adapt missiles to carry nuclear warheads.

The minister and Powell had sat next to each other at a dinner Monday on the sidelines of the international conference on Iraq which closed yesterday, but Kharrazi said this was not a sign of a thaw.

“It is true that last night we were on the same table but we did not discuss Iraq or other political matters. We did not discuss anything,” Kharrazi told a press conference.

“We do not believe the Americans are ready to engage with us in a sincere dialogue because a dialogue between nations has to be based on mutual respect and this is not the case,” he said. A State Department official said earlier that Powell and Kharrazi engaged in “polite dinner conversation,” which Kharazi described as “diplomatic niceties”, when pressed by reporters to say what went on when they broke bread together.

Kharrazi also dismissed fears by Arab Sunni Muslim governments that elections in Iraq could empower the Shi'i majority at the expense of its Sunni minority, bolstering the influence of Shi'i Iran.

“Iran will not interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs . It is up to the Iraqis themselves to choose their political system,” he said.

Iran, he insisted, wants the polls to be held on time on Jan. 30."

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