HC Deb 09 March 1998 vol 308 c53W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations with Iran; and what initiatives he proposes to improve relations between Iran and the EU during the presidency. [33316]

Mr. Fatchett

At its meeting on 23 February the European Council agreed that, in light of recent developments in Iran, the EU should respond by, as a first step, increasing the level of political contact with Iran including lifting the ban on official bilateral Ministerial visits. The EU is now considering how political contacts between the EU and Iran, covering both areas of EU concern and issues of mutual interest, might develop.

The Council also reviewed progress in the areas of concern to the EU, namely weapons of mass-destruction, terrorism, Iran's attitude to the Middle East Peace Process and human rights including the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. The EU reaffirmed the importance of fully implementing its existing security measures and of its continued vigilance in these matters and agreed that Iran's willingness to address EU concerns would greatly enhance the success of the dialogue and Iran's reintegration into the international community.