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UK grateful for Iran's constructive role in Iraq, says Straw

London, April 23, IRNA -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair thanked Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi Thursday for Iran's continuing cooperation with regard to Iraq.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Kharrazi following his talks with Blair, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that "progress" was also made over the agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

The Iranian foreign minister stopped over in London to met the British prime minister and hold discussions with Straw as part of his tour of European capitals, that started in Rome on Monday. He has since been to Brussels, Dublin and Paris.

He said that he held "very good discussions on difficult issues," including the situation in Iraq and the Palestinian issue. Other bilateral issues were also raised.

Straw said that he thanked Kharrazi for the "cooperation and continuing cooperation we receive in respect of Iraq." The British government was "grateful for the cooperation and constructive role played by Iran," he said.

"There has to be a major role for all six neighboring countries and that of the Arab and Islamic world" in helping to stabilize the difficult situation in Iraq, he said.

Kharrazi criticized the military role of the US in Iraq, saying that it could not achieve its goals by only using force. "Recent developments have proved that the wrong policies have been exercised in Iraq," he said.

Straw added that force had to be used in "certain circumstances," but warned that it had to be "proportionate" and used along side the political process.

On the wider issue of the Middle East, the Iranian foreign minister emphasized the importance of the Palestinian issue, saying that it would be a central issue as long as injustices remained.

Regarding Iran's nuclear program, he said that his country was working "very hard" with the European Union (EU) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that "big steps" had been taken.

He said that further discussions would continue and expressed hope that the issue could be finalized very soon.

... Payvand News - 4/23/04 ... --

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