Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiSaturday, April 17, 2004
<b>Foreign Ministry Ends Delegation's Mission in Iraq</b>
• A foreign ministry delegation ended its mission in Iraq after the cancellation of a planned visit to Najaf to meet Shiite religious leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani. “We met all the parties, Sunni as well as Shiite,” an aide to delegation head Hossein Sadeghi told AFP before they returned home. “We have had a brief assessment of the situation,” said the unnamed official, adding that Tehran would hold future consultations with the various Iraqi parties.
• “We believe that there is no role for the Iranians to play as middlemen” to end the standoff between US-led coalition forces and the Mehdi Army militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in Najaf, a US coalition spokesman said in Baghdad. In a meeting with the foreign ministry delegation who arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday, a US coalition official informed them that their mediation was unwelcome, Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said. “In fact we believe that the issue with Sadr and his militia should be resolved by Iraqis, not Iranians,” he added. Foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi, who on Wednesday had said the US had asked Iran for help to improve security in Iraq, said on Friday that the delegation headed by foreign ministry's director of Persian Gulf affairs Hossein Sadeghi was on “a fact finding mission. “How can one mediate between occupiers and the Iraqi people,” Kharrazi said.
• Moqtada Sadr had not asked Iran for political asylum and did not plan to travel to Iran, and Iran would not admit him, according to Charge d'Affairs of the Baghdad embassy Hasan Kazemi-Qomi in an interview with state-run “students” news agency ISNA. He said there has been no evidence of terrorists crossing into Iraq from Iran. He also denied news of his expulsion from Iraq, and said Iran had good relation with the Iraqi governing council. The assassination of diplomat Khalil Na'imi in Iraq was most probably carried out by terrorists who want to prevent the establishment of stability and security in Iraq, Kazmi-Qomi said.
<b>Kharrazi To Discuss Nuclear Program and Iraq In Rome</b>
• In a visit to Italy on Sunday, foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi will discuss Iran's nuclear program and the “critical situation in Iraq,” according to IRNA.
• An envoy from the office of the Italian Prime Minister has been sent to Iran to ask Iran's help in freeing the Italian hostages held by Iraqi insurgents.
• Foreign relations spokesman of the Italian communist revival party's parliamentary bloc Raol Montovani criticized the Rome prosecutor for ordering searches of the offices and homes of the anti-regime group the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) and its political arm the national resistant movement. Human rights activist and founder of the anti-capital punishment organization Hands Off Cain <b>Sergio Delia</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the prosecutors' order may have been issued under pressure from the Italian government, which is hoping to use Iranian authorities' help in obtaining the release of Italian hostages in Iraq. Italy may get those hostages released with the help of Iran, but would pay a heavy price for it, he says. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
<b>RSF Warns About Veteran Journalist Pourzand's Health in Jail</b>
• Reporters Sans Frontiers today voiced concern about the state of health of jailed 75-year-old journalist Siamak Pourzand, it deplored the 18-month prison sentence just passed on freelance journalist Ensafali Hedayat, and it voiced outrage at the UN Human Rights Commission's failure to condemn the Islamic Republic during its 60th session. The organization warned that Pourzand's life could be in great danger if he is not released immediately and given appropriate treatment. He has been paralyzed for months and suffered a heart attack on 31 March that left him in a coma for 36 hours.
<b>Iraqi Pirates Attack Iranian Cargo Ship</b>
• An Iranian cargo ship came under fire from Iraqi pirates, as it was nearing its destination Khoramshahr on its way from Dubai. The pirates wounded a crewmember and damaged the ship, but could not stop it. Head of the Islamic Republic shipping company said the attacks have made shipping in the Persian Gulf insecure. The Iraqi pirates, seeking to extort money or merchandise from ships, use light weapons and speedboats. In an attack last month pirates killed two Iranian crewmen and wounded 16.
<b>Court Sentences Nationalist-Religious Activist To Suspended Jail Term</b>
• The Islamic Revolutionary Court reduced the three-year jail sentence of nationalist-religious coalition activist <b>Marzieh Mortazi-Langaroudi</b> to one-year suspended sentence. Mortazi, who is wife of Islamic leftist activist and coalition member Habibollah Peyman, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the courts usually suspend jail sentences for the women they convict for political crimes. Mortazi was charged with spreading anti-regime propaganda, which, she says, was based on her signing an appeal for the release of fellow nationalist-religious activists from jail. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
هيات اعزامي وزارت امورخارجه جمهوري اسلامي كه كار خود را حقيقت يابي و رايزني با مقامات گوناگون در عراق اعلام كرده بود، امروز بي آنكه به شهر نجف، مقر مقتدي صدر، رهبر تندروي شيعه، برود، به ديدار خود از عراق پايان داد. حسين صادقي، رئيس بخش خليج فارس وزارت امور خارجه جمهوري اسلامي و سرپرست اين گروه گفت كه هيات با رهبران شيعي و سني ملاقاتهايي داشته است، اما توضيحي درباره علت لغو شدن سفر هيات به نجف نداد. مقامات نيروهاي ائتلاف گفته بودند كه تمايلي به ميانجيگري ايران ندارند. هيات اعزامي جمهوري اسلامي همچنين با اخضر ابراهيمي، نماينده ويژه سازمان ملل در عراق و نيز با نمايندگان نيروهاي ائتلاف و اعضاي مهم شوراي حكومتي عراق ديدار كرد.