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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 July, 2003, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Profile: Kamal Kharrazi
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi
Kharrazi: Accused of "friendly behaviour" towards Iraq
Kamal Kharrazi has belonged to the Iranian political establishment since the early days of the Islamic Republic.

He became foreign minister in 1997,and since then he has been associated with President Khatami's policy of improving ties with Iran's neighbours.

In January 2000, he became the first Iranian foreign minister to visit Britain in 20 years.

But in 2003 Mr Kharrazi came under fire from reformers in the country's parliament, the Majlis, over his alleged failure to safeguard national interests.

Born in 1944 in Tehran, he was deputy foreign minister for political affairs from August 1979 to March 1980. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) he was a member of the Supreme Defence Council and head of the War Information Headquarters.

He combined these duties with positions in the media. He was vice-chairman of the state broadcasting company IRIB from March to August 1979, while from 1980 to 1989 he headed the Iranian state news agency Irna.

Summoned to Majlis

From 1989 to 1997 Mr Kharrazi served as ambassador to the United Nations, representing Iran at international conferences.

In February 2003 a group of Majlis deputies submitted a motion calling for his impeachment. ISNA news agency said the motion listed 20 complaints, including "the emergence of friendly behaviour towards Iraq".

Other concerns were Mr Kharrazi's handling of talks on sharing the resources of the Caspian Sea, as well as his "failure to appoint senior diplomats on merit".

In May 2003, media reports said Mr Kharrazi had been summoned to a closed session of the Majlis. This time deputies sought clarification of his policies towards Iraq - and of his management of relations with Washington since the US-led invasion of Iraq.

As Iran's nuclear programme came under renewed international scrutiny in June 2003, it fell to Kharrazi to state Iran's case.

"Iran has not been in breach of anything," he told Iranian radio after a visit by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

And he resisted pressure from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, on a visit to Tehran, to open up Iran's nuclear sites to tougher inspections.

Instead he took the opportunity to hit back at what he called the British prime minister's backing for Iranian student demonstrators.

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.


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