Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiThursday, April 15, 2004
<b>Gunmen Kill Iranian Embassy Diplomat in Baghdad</b>
• Unidentified men gunned down first secretary Khalili Naimi, as he drove away from Iran's embassy in Baghdad. The murder complicates the diplomatic mission of a five-man team headed by foreign ministry's director of Persian Gulf affairs Hossein Sadeghi, who arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for talks with Shiite leaders, including radical cleric Moqtada Sadr, in a bid to end a stand-off in Najaf between Sadr's militias and a 2,500-man US force, which is tightening its siege of the city.
• Italy asked Iran for help to obtain the release of four hostages held by Iraqi insurgents, Italian foreign minister said.
• The US had not invited Iran to help negotiate peace with Iraqi insurgents, according to a US official who did not confirm claims made earlier by foreign minister Kharrazi. “The US did not ask Iranian officials to go to Baghdad to do anything,” US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday. However, Washington wants Iraq's neighbors to “play a helpful ... positive role, calm the situation, help Iraq achieve the goal of a stable transition on July 1,” he added. Concerned about the role Iran was playing, the US monitors it very closely. “I don't think I know enough about their purposes and ... what they're going to do yet to be able to describe it one way or the other,” he added.
• Washington unraveled by Iran's “helping” Iraq, London daily the <i>Times</i>'s foreign editor Bronwen Maddox writes.
• Iran's interest in Iraq should not be ignored, former British ambassador to Iraq <b>Sir John Moberly</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The solution to the stand-off in Iraq is negotiations and avoidance of military confrontation, he adds. The elimination of Moqtada Sadr would not end the insurgency, he says. (Shahran Tabari, London)
• As the Iranian diplomatic delegation begins talks with Iraqi insurgents, cleric Moqtada Sadr dropped his conditions for direct talks with the US, Austrian daily <i>Die Presse</i> writes. Moqtada Sadr has offered positive suggestions to end the unrest, Düsseldorf daily. <i>Handelsblatt</i> writes. Iran will begins talks to secure release of abducted foreigners in Iraq, Berlin daily <i>Der Tagesspiegel writes.</i>. (Shahram Mirian)
• More than the US presence in Iraq, Iran is concerned about the rise of Arab nationalism and the spread of Saudi Arabia style Wahabi Islam, Paris daily <i>Liberation</i> writes. Iranian authorities are concerned that a possible civil war in Iraq, may spill over into Iran, it adds, quoting Paris-based commentator Ahmad Salamatian, who says it is almost certain that the US will arrest Moqtada Sadr with the help of Iran.
• Iraqi foreign minister <b>Hoshyar Zebari</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that he has no information about a possible mediating role that Iran's diplomatic delegation may play in Iraq. “You have to ask that from the coalition authorities,” he says. (Peyman Pezhman)
<b>Italian Police Search MKO Houses in Rome</b>
• Several anti-terrorism units of the Italian national law enforcement agency DIGOS searched offices of the political arm of the Iraq-based anti-regime group Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), as well as houses of MKO activists in Rome and other cities. The Rome prosecutor, who ordered the searches, accused the National Resistance Council of acting as a front for the MKO. The police confiscated documents and computers from MKO offices and homes, according to Italian daily <i>La Republica</i>. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
<b>Iran Executed Six Kurdish Activists, KDP Says</b>
• In an interview with <b>Radio Farda</b>, Paris-based spokesman of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDP) <b>Khosrow Abdollahi</b> says six members of the party were executed in Iranian prisons. The six had been arrested in Iraq and transferred to Iran in 1996 by a group called Iraqi Islamic Movement (Harekat-e Elsami-ye Eraq). The KDP learned of their executions in a letter sent to a human rights group by the British ambassador to Tehran, he adds. It is not clear when they six had been executed, he says. The Iranian government, he adds, has said that the six were killed in gun battle, as they were returning from Iraq to Iran. However, this is a common method of the Islamic Republic to deny the executions. “We have information that they were first taken to Paveh and then to Kermanshah,” he adds. So far, at least 1,000 KDP members have been executed by the Islamic Republic, he adds. (Siavash Ardalan)
<b>Hamedan Court Vacated Aghajari's Jail Sentence</b>
• A Hamedan court vacated a standing four-year jail sentence against Tehran teachers' college history professor Hashem Aghajari, but Aghajari's death sentence is still open, head of Hamedan judiciary Zekrollah Ahmadi said yesterday. Aghajari received a death sentence last year for criticizing clerical rule and the Shiite principle of religious emulation in a speech June 2002 about Islamic Protestantism in Hamedan. His death sentence was overturned later by a branch of the supreme court. Aghajari has not asked anyone for a pardon, since he does not believe that he has committed a crime, his lawyer Saleh Nikhbakht said. The jail sentence had legal problems since the start, and a pardon was not required for overturning it, Aghari's wife Zahra Behnoudi said, adding that her jailed husband has spent 400 days in legal limbo. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
<b>Iran Loses Race to Increase Gas Exports</b>
• Iran's plans to export its natural gas, either through pipelines, or as liquefied natural gas (LNG) has not met with the same success as those of Iran's regional competitors, head of the national gas export company Rokneddin Javadi said on Wednesday. Iran's first international conference on gas exports is due to begin next week in a bid to promote international investment in Iran's gas exports. The constitution has limited Iran to offering buy-back deals to foreign investors, which handicaps the country's ability to compete with regional gas exporters, such as Qatar. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
• Iran and Qatar have enough gas to supply the US for 70 years, but Qatar produces more than 15 million tons a year of liquefied natural gas, enough to heat Japan for three months, but Iran, whose population of 70 million dwarfs Qatar's 370,000, exports only one-sixth as much as Qatar, Bloomberg news service reports. Because Iran is under pressure from U.S. sanctions, the country's earliest gas-development project won't be completed until 2009. That puts the brakes on Iran's efforts to restructure its economy and reduce its subsidies on gasoline and food products, Bloomberg writes.
<b>Tabriz Court Sentences Hedayat to 18 Months in Jail</b>
• The Tabriz Islamic revolutionary court today sentenced independent journalist Ensafali Hedayat to 18 months in jail. Hedayat, who was arrested three months ago after returning from Berlin where he attended the first convention of the secular republican coalition (Etehad Jumhurikhahan-e Iran), had been charged with spying and inciting revolt, among other things. But the court yesterday dropped most charges, and arraigned him on two counts: anti-regime propaganda and insulting the Supreme Leader. The earlier charges were too heavy, Hedayat's lawyer <b>Abbas Jamali</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. However, we believe Hedayat has done nothing wrong and we will appeal the sentence, he adds. (Siavash Ardalan)
<b>Singaporean Businessmen Cautious on Iran Investment</b>
• “Some Singapore businessmen, on an exploratory trip to Iran, are wary about getting their fingers caught in Iran's moody loom, even though they recognize the market's huge potential. Some have found hidden costs such as high government certification fees and strict labor laws in the fine print of tax-and-tariff-free deals. Others have doubts about the promised ease of repatriating funds due to some clauses in the foreign investment law. One clause, for example, says that businesses moving funds out of Iran should go through a government approval process,” Singapore's daily the <i>Strait Times</i> writes.
<b>Town Resident Clash With Intelligence Ministry Agents</b>
• Residents of a development near Tehran clashed with officials of the intelligence ministry, a resident of the Omid town tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The people protested against the intelligence ministry's take over of a land parcel that belonged to the town and the natural resources organization, and where the town's only source of drinking water was located. The officials of the Omid real estate development project have filed complaints, the news of which has been aired on TV, he adds. (Leyli Arman)
سياوش اردلان (راديو فردا): بحث سفر هيئت ميانجيگر ايراني به عراق از ديروز آغاز شد. زماني كه كمال خرازي، وزير خارجه ايران با لحني مبهم ولي كلي به سفرهيئت ايراني اشاره كرد و گفت كه اين سفر با درخواست آمريكا هم بوده است.
صداي كمال خرازي : ما مكاتبات زيادي با آمريكايي ها داريم، در مورد عراق هم مكاتبات زيادي هست و طبعا چنين درخواستهايي هم از آمريكا هست كه ما كمك بكنيم به بهبود اوضاع در عراق، ما هم تلاش هايمان را انجام مي دهيم.
س . ا: اما ساعاتي پس از اين اظهارات، سخنگوي وزارت امورخارجه آمريكا گفت كه آمريكا از مسئولان ايران دعوت نكرده بود كه به عراق بروند.
ريچارد باوچر: پيش از هر چيز آمريكا از مسئولاني ايراني براي چنين منظورهايي دعوت نكرد به بغداد بيايند.
س.ا.: با اين حال سخنگوي وزارت امورخارجه آمريكا، سفر هيات ميانجيگري ايراني را به زير سئوال نبرد و تنها گفت كه اميدوار است هر تلاشي كه ايران مي كند، تلاشي سازنده باشد.
ريچارد باوچر: نظر بخصوصي در مورد هيئت ندارم. آنچه در كل مي خواهم بگويم اين است كه ما اقدامات و نقشي را كه ايران بازي مي كند، زير نظر داريم و پيگيري مي كنيم و ما همچنان كه به ايران و ديگر همسايگان عراق گفته ايم، خواستار كمك دهنده بودن اين نقش هستيم.
س . ا : افزون بر اين سخنگوي وزارت امور خارجه آمريكا راه را براي ايفاي نقش هيات ميانجيگر ايراني در عراق براي آينده باز گذاشت.
ريچارد باوچر: پاسخ خود هيات نيست، پاسخ كاري است كه آنها مي كنند و اگر به تثبيت اوضاع كمك كنند، مطلوب خواهد بود. اگر چنين كمكي نكنند، خوب نخواهد بود. ديروز وزير امور خارجه جمهوري اسلامي با لحني مبهم ولي كلي به سفر هيات وزارت امورخارجه جمهوري اسلامي به عراق اشاره كرد و گفت كه اين سفر با درخواست آمريكا بوده است. ساعاتي پس از اين اظهارات، ريچارد باوچر، سخنگوي وزارت امور خارجه آمريكا گفت كه آمريكا از مسئولان ايران دعوت نكرده بود كه به عراق بروند. وي افزود نظر بخصوصي در مورد هيات ندارم. اما اگر ايران و همسايگان ديگر عراق به تثبيت اوضاع كمك كنند، مطلوب خواهد بود. اگر چنين كمكي نكنند، خوب نخواهد بود.