Tuesday, November 23, 2004

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Profile: Mehdi Karrubi

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Profile: Mehdi Karrubi: "Profile: Mehdi Karrubi


Karrubi: Possible presidential candidate in 2005
Mehdi Karrubi was elected speaker of Iran's reformist-dominated parliament in May 2000. On leaving office in May 2004, he defended the right of deputies to become involved in political issues. And he urged the new conservative-led parliament to cooperate with the government.
He is a noted reformist and ally of President Khatami. Supporters hoped he would prevail against the conservative faction in parliament and "sell" reforms to the Guardian Council.

But Mr Karrubi is highly regarded and trusted in the conservative camp as well. His personal ties with figures across the political spectrum, going back to the revolution, have given him credibility as a mediator.

He attempted to resolve disputes between parliament and the other branches of power. In August 2001 he proposed a committee to arbitrate in a row between parliament and the judiciary over appointments to the Guardian Council.

In 2003, he intervened in a standoff between the Majlis and the Guardian Council over twin bills proposed by President Khatami.

Mediator

The bills, aimed at boosting presidential power and curbing the role of the Guardian Council, were overwhelmingly approved by parliament in April 2003, but rejected by the Council as unconstitutional in May.

"I believe that this problem must be resolved," he said in May 2003, according to the state-owned news agency. "Our policy and efforts are aimed at resolving this issue through understanding."

Mr Karrubi has been seen as a possible presidential candidate in the 2005 elections.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages."

ABC News: Powell Has Dinner Chat with Iranian Minister

ABC News: Powell Has Dinner Chat with Iranian Minister: "Powell Has Dinner Chat with Iranian Minister
Reuters

Nov 22, 2004 — By Saul Hudson

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell had "polite dinner conversation" seated alongside his Iranian counterpart on Monday in the most extensive, high-level contact between the countries in years.

Iran and the United States, which are locked in a crisis over Tehran's nuclear program, do not have diplomatic relations but occasionally over the past few years their senior envoys have crossed paths at international meetings.

The Bush administration has been under pressure from many in the U.S. foreign policy establishment to begin a dialogue with Tehran but it has been divided over whether and to what degree it might reach out.


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"During the course of dinner the secretary and the Iranian foreign minister engaged in polite dinner conversation," said a senior State Department official, who asked not to be named.

Substantive issues such as the nuclear crisis and Iraq are not considered "polite conversation," he added.

The Egyptians, hosts of the international conference, arranged the seating at a first-night dinner for countries' top representatives, putting Powell between the Iranian, Kamal Kharrazi, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, the official said.

It was not clear if Powell knew before the meal who would be at his elbow for what would his most extensive encounter with an Iranian as the top U.S. diplomat.

In November 2001, Powell took the opportunity of a post-Sept. 11 meeting on Afghanistan to shake hands with Kharrazi at the United Nations in New York.

Powell has since attended two international donor meetings attended by Iranian diplomats, according to U.S. officials.

Any gesture toward Iran at the Iraq meeting would be modest, U.S. officials said before the meeting.

TWO DECADES

The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic since a hostage crisis more than two decades ago. It has had only intermittent contacts since then, despite Tehran's growing ability to thwart some of Washington's major objectives, such as stability in Iraq.

In the days leading up to the conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Powell played down the possibility of a meeting to discuss bilateral issues. He also angered Iran with new accusations that it was seeking to adapt its missiles to carry a nuclear warhead.

But Powell, whose cautious support of European nuclear negotiations with Iran faces opposition from some Bush administration hawks, noted there would be conference social events and that he was "not a discourteous man."

The encounter came on the same day as Iran suspended sensitive nuclear activities that could be used to make a bomb in a move likely to thwart U.S. efforts to report it to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

The United States accuses oil-rich Iran of pursuing a nuclear bomb and has vowed to stop it achieving that goal. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and only to generate power.

On Tuesday, the second and final day of the conference, Powell also plans to hold a bilateral meeting with his counterpart from Syria, another country Washington has strained ties with."

ABC News: Powell Dismisses Dinner Diplomacy with Iran

ABC News: Powell Dismisses Dinner Diplomacy with Iran: "Powell Dismisses Dinner Diplomacy with IranSec. of State Says U.S.-Iran Diplomacy Could Happen 'In Due Course'
U.S. Sec. of State Colin Powell told ABC News about an unexpected seating arrangement during an Iraq summit dinner. (ABC News)

Nov. 23, 2004 — In his first interview with an American television network since announcing his resignation from President Bush's Cabinet last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to ABC News' Jonathan Karl while visiting Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for an international conference on Iraq.

Powell told Karl about an unexpected seating arrangement at a conference dinner, which positioned Powell next to his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharrazi.

"We just happened to be seated next to each other at the instigation, I suspect, of our Egyptian hosts, and we made polite dinner conversation," Powell said.

Last week, Powell told reporters that the United States had intelligence that Iran was working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon.

That topic, said U.S. officials, was not discussed during dinner, which Powell described as "very pleasant."

Powell said he arrived at the dinner a few minutes late, saw his place setting and sat down, previously unaware of the seating plan.

"That was fine by me," said Powell. "We shook hands and enjoyed dinner and exchanged polite conversation."

Powell, who previously dismissed the notion of writing a book about his experiences as secretary of state, now tells ABC News it might be something he would consider, although he hasn't approached any publishers.


Asked if it was time for the United States to renew diplomatic ties with Iran after a near 25-year rift, Powell left open the possibility, saying it could happen "in due course.""