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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 16:07 GMT
Iranian media cautiously optimistic

Kamal Kharrazi Dr Kharrazi: First foreign minister to visit in 20 years


The Iranian media has expressed its hope that the talks between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi will mark a turning point in relations between Tehran and London.

Iranian radio welcomed remarks by Mr Blair, in which he reportedly said the UK would refrain from taking any action that would undermine bilateral relations.

"The British prime minister's remarks seem to be a response to the sensitivities of the people of our country about relations with Britain and Britain's past policies towards Iran.

"The remarks made by the most senior British official about the beginning of a new era of co-operation with Iran represent a transformation in the perspective of British officials."

Media bias

However, the radio said there still existed a sense of "concern and pessimism" about relations among some Iranian political circles and people.

"It is necessary for fundamental changes to be made in Britain's behaviour towards and propaganda about Islamic Iran while transparent negotiations between the officials of the two countries are going on,'' the commentator said.

"British media organisations, which are dependent on governmental circles and the major parties of that country, must report on Iranian developments with a sense of realism."

The radio commentator added that past relations between the two countries "cannot be a model for perpetuating bilateral co-operation between Tehran and London.

"It is essential that Britain should observe international principles and regulations, including the principles of non-interference, equity and mutual respect, in order to co-operate with Tehran on a long-term basis."

Improved relations

Iranian television described Dr Kharrazi's visit - the first by an Iranian foreign minister since the Islamic revolution in 1979 - as an "unprecedented event".

It said the trip would "reduce the chances of tensions arising in future and also strengthen the spirit of co-operation among Iran, Britain and the European Union.

"In terms of improving Iran's ties with the EU, the visit to Britain represents the completion of the plan to enhance Iran's ties with the EU. It moves forward the process of eliminating tensions in Iran's foreign relations," the television commentator added.

The commentator said the visit was a step forward but added that relations between the two countries would not be "normalised".

"That is because, over the last 20 years, London has proved that it is committed to following America's policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran."

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), 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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