Khatami Condemns Israeli Interference in Caspian Region

TEHRAN (Combined Sources)–Iranian president Mohammad Khatami told an Azeri parliament delegation headed by chairman Murtuz Alesqerov that Iran is determined to expand its ties with regional states. He also condemned Israel’s "interference" in the Caspian Sea region. Tehran has often criticized Baku’s ties with the Jewish state.

The Azeri delegation in Tehran on an official visit held talks last week with Iranian parliament chairman Ali Akper Nateq Nouri and former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani–Turan News Agency reported. The talks focused on improving bilateral relations–regional conflicts and the status of the Caspian Sea.

The Azeri delegation then traveled to Meshed–where the possibility of beginning regular flights between that city and Baku was discussed. On Wednesday the delegation visited Tabriz–the second largest city in Iran and the cultural center of that country’s large Azeri minority. It was the first visit to Tabriz by a delegation from the Azeri Republic.

Nouri in statemen’s after talks with his Azeri counterpart said–"all Iranian officials believe in expansion of the relations with the friendly and brotherly country of Azerbaijan in all dimensions."

He said the commonalities shared by Iran and Azerbaijan will serve as a suitable ground for mutual cooperation and closer relations between the two countries–the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

However–Nouri warned that certain people and some segmen’s of the press are doing mischief to mar the amicable relations between Tehran and Baku. He called on Azeri and Iranian officials to be vigilant and deal toughly with such conspiracies.

He also underlined the need for further cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan at the international level with an aim to attain common objectives. Iran’s policy is based on tension-easing and establishment of peace and stability in the region and the world–the speaker said–adding that Iran is interested in peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Meanwhile–Nouri said the Caspian Sea belongs to its five littoral states–which should unanimously work out a fair legal regime for exploitation of the sea’s reserves. He stressed that any agreement between two littoral states will create problems rather than solve anything. Among the five littoral states–Russia and Iran favor a common share of the resources of the Caspian.


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