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Iranian Ambassador Accuses Bush Of Interference

Thailand's Iranian Ambassador Accuses Bush Of Interference


by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- U.S. President George Bush is "interfering" in Iran by demanding the release of Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji from prison, Iran's ambassador said in an interview.

Iran meanwhile will not "encourage anyone" to assassinate British author Salman Rusdie despite an Islamic "fatwa" demanding the novelist's death, issued by Iran's late Ayatollah Khomeini.

Asked about Tehran's plans to enrich uranium, Iran's ambassador to Thailand, Mohsen Pakaein, said in an interview on Thursday (July 14): "Now we are waiting for the negotiations with the Europeans, because we see the negotiations are going on, and everything depends on these negotiations.

"We will announce our policy after finalizing our negotiations with the Europeans."

London, Paris and Berlin are pushing Tehran to continue its temporary ban on the enrichment of uranium.

Despite Iran's insistence that its low-level enrichment was to produce only "peaceful" energy so Iran could modernize, enriched uranium can also be used to build nuclear weapons.

"Obviously, Iran's peaceful nuclear program is no threat to any country in the world. But the Zionist regime [Israel] is a center of depot and production of nuclear and mass destruction weapons in the Middle East, and is the most serious threat to the peace and stability in the region," Mr. Pakaein said in a written statement handed out before the interview.

Meanwhile on Tuesday (July 12), President Bush called for Iran to release Ganji, an Iranian journalist who was locked up in 2000 for reporting an alleged connection between Intelligence Ministry officials and the 1998 murder of five dissidents.

"I think this kind of a declaration [by Bush] is interfering in our internal affairs, because the fate of any prisoners in Iran is related to the Iranians, and nobody from the other countries can talk about them," Ambassador Pakaein said in the interview.

Relations between Bush and Iran's President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who won a surprise landslide victory in last month's election -- can be friendly if Washington ends its hostility, the ambassador said.

"The number one block is the hostility of the U.S. against us. If the United States finishes their hostility against Iran, our policy is to have good relations with all countries.

"With all [U.S.] presidents, we always mention that if we see some positive activity from the United States' side, we are ready to consider it positively, but for us there is no difference between the [recent U.S.] presidents.

"So, anytime we see some positive position from them, maybe our position will be positive."

Iran's 1979 seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, and the holding of its staff as hostages, exposed America's sinister motives, he said.

"We cannot say that the place was the embassy, because we had some documents [showing] that there was some spy system" operating within the building, he said.

The ambassador was referring to thousands of U.S. embassy, State Department and CIA cables, and other "confidential" documents, which were shredded by panicky American embassy staff but painstakingly pieced together by Iranians and published in 69 books titled "Documents from the U.S. Espionage Den."

They include communications between American embassies in Tehran, Kabul, Islamabad, New Delhi, Jeddah, London, Moscow, Paris, NATO, Washington and elsewhere, and named diplomats, journalists, Iranian officials, dissidents and others who discussed official, personal and private issues with U.S. embassy staff.

Asked if Iran's new government would ask Muslims to fulfill a deadly fatwa issued by the country's late ayatollah against Mr. Rushdie -- who allegedly blasphemed Islam in a novel titled "The Satanic Verses" -- Mr. Pakaein replied: "No, it is not the policy of the government to encourage anybody, and I don't think that the policy of the new government is that."

The fatwa, however, is apparently a sensitive subject.

"I think, about the fatwa, it is better I do not say anything, because it is something of the past."

*************

Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 27 years, is co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is www.geocities.com/glossograph/


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