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Thursday, September 27, 2001, updated at 08:29(GMT+8)

Iran, EU Ready to Promote All-Around Ties

European Union (EU) officials said Wednesday that the 15-nation bloc is ready to work with Iran in combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and promoting trade ties.

The EU delegation, grouping Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, arrived here Tuesday evening from Pakistan on the second leg of a regional tour.

The tour is aimed at rallying support for fighting global terrorism following the devastating terror attacks against the United States on September 11.

During a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, Michel, whose country is holding EU's rotating presidency, said that the EU member states are determined to promote ties with Tehran, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.

Michel spoke highly of Iran's stances against the terror attacks on the U.S., saying that the European countries attach great importance to the strategic role Iran plays in the region.

He also termed Iran as an "important and influential" country in the region and in the entire world of Islam.

Michel expressed gratitude to Iran for accommodating a large number of refugees over the past few years and for its great efforts in the battle against drugs.

He also voiced readiness of the European countries to sign a trade and commercial accord with Iran.

Meanwhile, Solana expressed EU's readiness to further boost ties with Iran, saying that the European states pay great attention to their cooperation with Iran.

He reiterated that international coalition for the struggle against terrorism is against neither Islam nor any Islamic state, claiming that the move is against all kinds of violence.

Solana also called for all-out efforts by all countries to uproot terrorism.

On his part, Kharazi said that Iran condemns the airborne attacks on the U.S., which has left nearly 7,000 people dead or missing.

He also expressed concern over collateral casualties in neighboring Afghanistan following any possible U.S. retaliatory strikes.

"It will be faced with opposition of the public opinion throughout the world of Islam," Kharazi was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying.

Underlining the need to uproot terrorism in the world, the Iranian minister said that any reaction to the terrorist operations in the U.S. should be within the framework of the United Nations principles.

Iran itself has been victim of terrorism, he said, criticizing the double-standard policy of the West towards terrorism for sheltering members of the Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), Iran's main armed opposition based in Iraq.

Regarding the refugee issue, he called on all states, particularly the European countries, to provide homeless Afghans with appropriate assistance.

Kharazi also voiced Iran's readiness to expand ties with the EU, especially in the technology transfer and industrial cooperation areas.

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European Union (EU) officials said Wednesday that the 15-nation bloc is ready to work with Iran in combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and promoting trade ties.

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