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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Iran media spotlight Iran-UK spat
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (left) and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Tony Blair's remarks overshadow Jack Straw's Tehran trip

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's trip to Tehran was dominated by the nuclear issue, as he urged Iran's leaders to sign an additional protocol allowing tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities.

But the country's media seemed more interested in the state of Iran-UK relations, after last week's diplomatic row over remarks by British Prime Minister Tony Blair on recent student protests.

The differences between British and Iranian policy over Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East are the focus of an Iranian radio commentary on the visit.

"On the whole, it must be said that the talks between Mr Kharrazi and Mr Jack Straw in Tehran demonstrated that a clear division of opinion remains between the two countries."


Blair has spoilt the game. Straw is expected to mend fences
Tehran Times

The English-language Tehran Times put a more positive slant on the visit.

It believes that, unlike Iran-US ties, Tehran-London relations have improved "despite all their ups and downs".

But the paper is in no doubt that Mr Straw's visit has been "a tough one" following Tony Blair's remarks in which he said the recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran deserved Britain's support. Iranian officials condemned the remarks as interference in the country's internal affairs.

"Blair has spoilt the game. Straw is expected to mend fences," it says.

The conservative Resalat warns Mr Straw that the UK Government's "strong diplomatic stances" could damage ties with Iran.

"If Jack Straw is bearing an intemperate message we remind the British that, from now on, there is a clear link between their stances and their interests in Iran," it says.

US puppet?

London has turned into a political clown that only repeats America's words
Jomhuri-ye Eslami

The extent to which Britain agrees with the US over Iran also interests the press.

Several newspapers are divided over whose interests the British foreign secretary is representing - London's or Washington's.

The hardline Jomhuri-ye Eslami believes Mr Straw's visit illustrates that "London has turned into a political clown that only repeats America's words in order to receive something in return".

This view is disputed in the centre-right Entekhab.

"Straw's visit to Iran does not amount to a step by the US to solve the problems between the two countries, nor is Britain playing the mediator," it says.

He has come to Tehran to "make demands" on behalf of the UK Government, according to the paper.

"This creates an opportunity for Tehran to voice its demands decisively, in exactly the same way that they raise their demands."

The reformist Etemaad believes Mr Straw has Europe's interest at heart.

"If Europe loses Iran as it did Afghanistan and Iraq, it effectively has to give up the Middle East or pin its hope on this strategic region within the limits of America's will."

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.

The BBC's James Robbins
"There have been weeks of student protests"

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