Khatami Calls for “Logical” Solution to Karabakh

TEHRAN (AFP–IRNA)–Iranian President Mohammed Khatami warned Saturday that the great powers were trying to get a foothold in the young nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia–the official IRNA news agency reported.

Khatami did not name the powers he had in mind but Iranian officials have repeatedly complained that the United States and its NATO ally Turkey were seeking to dominate the region.

Khatami in a meeting with the new ambassador of Armenia to Tehran expressed hope that the Karabakh problem would be resolved in a logical manner and said Iran is ready to be active in this regard.

During the visit in which the new ambassador Gharibjanian presented his credentials–the Iranian president also referred to the important position of the Caucasus and central Asia and said the big powers are trying to impose their control over the countries of these region before the Newly Independent States could stand on their own feet.

Iran has several times expressed concern in the past that the dispute could lead to intervention by outside powers.

Pointing to historical ties between the Iranian and Armenian nations–the president called for strengthening of bilateral relations and also the follow-up of the already signed agreemen’s between the two countries notably in the field of construction of dams and power plants.

Pointing out the importance of the Caucasus and Central Asia–he told the ambassador that the big powers "are trying to impose their control over the countries of these regions before the newly independent states could stand on their own feet."

Earlier this month–Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi made a similar mediation offer to the visiting Azeri Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov–saying the dispute "only offered the United States an excuse for justifying the presence of their forces in the region."

Iran was angered in January when an aide to Azeri President Heydar Aliyev suggested NATO–Turkey or the United States base troops in Azerbaijan to counter Russian support for Armenia.

On the Kosovo crisis–the president said that the Balkan region is engulfed in flames of wrath–mischief–and corruption–adding that Iran as a Muslim country who cares for the destiny of other Muslim nations and also as the current president of organization of Islamic countries–would not tolerate any encroachment on the rights of Muslims in Kosovo and Balkan.

Hojatoleslam Khatami said that the pretext for intervention of foreign forces (in Kosovo) was that the Belgrade government does not recognize the Muslim’s rights–while this onroad itself would lead to even broader crisis in that region.

The head of the organization of Islamic countries said that recognition of the people’s rights in that region is among main prerequisites for removal of the current crisis and the Belgrade government bears a great responsibility in this regard.

The president also called the current NATO’s attack as an illegal action and noted that similar illegal measures without international coordination had already been taken against Iraqi government in which only Iraqi people have sustained loss and disadvantage.

President Khatami said the current actions do not benefit the oppressed Muslim people of Kosovo and only the big powers willing to dominate Balkan gain advantage.

The Armenia’s new ambassador to Tehran in the meeting referred to historical ties between the two countries and voiced the political will of his government to expand relations with Iran. He also thanked Iran’s efforts in helping resolve the Karabakh issue.

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