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Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 21:48 GMT 22:48 UK
Iran accuses West of double standards
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, right, meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus
Dr Kharrazi (right) first went to Syria and Lebanon
By the BBC's Nick Childs in Cairo

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, has accused the West of double standards in its attitudes to terrorism by ignoring the actions of Israel against the Palestinians.

His remarks came after talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

For Egypt and Iran, the two most populous states in the Middle East, this was a valuable exchange of views on the current crisis, as both prepare for a meeting of the Islamic Conference Organisation in the Gulf in just over a week.

Dr Kharrazi had arrived in Egypt after talks with Iran's more traditional Arab allies, Syria and Lebanon.

'Total agreement'

The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, said the talks in Cairo had been important and useful.

The Iranian foreign minister said the two governments were in total agreement on the phenomenon of terrorism and how to tackle it.

That may be an exaggeration, but clearly both are anxious at the moment to emphasise their points of agreement.

Egyptian-Iranian relations have been strained despite efforts recently to improve them.

Both say they are looking to make strides in this direction.

'Legitimate struggle'

Dr Kharrazi said that it was necessary to distinguish between "real terrorism", as he called it, and what he described as the legitimate rights of people to defend themselves against occupation.

This was a clear reference to the Palestinians and the Lebanese Shia group, Hezbollah, who have been fighting the Israelis.

He added that Islam could not accept the West ignoring what he described as the terrorism of Israel.

These are sentiments that have considerable popular support, not only in Iran, but also in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iran to be shown terror evidence
24 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Analysis: Straw's visit divides Iran
17 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iran condemns attacks on US
19 Sep 01 | Middle East
Middle East: Building the coalition
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