Oct 18, 2019, 12:23 PM
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Experts at London meeting emphasize the need for dialogue with Iran

London, Oct 18, IRNA - Experts on Iranian affairs stressed at Thursday's meeting in London on the need for dialogue with Tehran to resolve regional issues.

In a meeting at the British Parliament, attended by some prominent MPs, figures and officials, including former British government officials, the lecturers discussed the political and geopolitical situation of the region with Iran in focus.

The program included former US President Bill Clinton's adviser on nuclear issues Jack Crawley, former British deputy foreign secretary Ivan Lewis and Iran's Emma Nawaz, a lawyer and banking and economic expert on Iran which delivered speech on Iranian affairs.

In his remarks, Lewis noted that Iran's interest in international respect and respect for other countries was a legitimate expectation, especially if Iran's history and its people's efforts to achieve democracy were taken into account.

He criticized Iran's role in seizing the British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz without mentioning the illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar, saying one-fifth of the world's oil passes through the waterway and its insecurity means a global crisis.

He slammed British foreign policy for other developments in the region, including Yemen and described the Yemen war as devastating, with over 100,000 dead and more than 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian aid.

The former British diplomat underlined that the London’s government has supported Saudi intervention in Yemen under the pretext of restoring the "legal government" of Yemen, legitimized Saudi intervention, sold weapons to the Saudi-led coalition while the Royal Air Force was training the Saudi Air Force, Special English units were operating in Yemen".

Referring to growing criticism of Britain's role in Yemen, Lewis stressed that the country should adopt a more realistic and critical approach to Saudi Arabia.

He noted that Britain did not condemn the Saudi attack on Yemeni civilian areas, despite condemning the Ansarullah's missile attacks on Riyadh. He reiterated that British behavior on Yemen has damaged its credibility.

The British diplomat stressed that it would be difficult to achieve stability in Yemen, but steps could be taken. He praised Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent efforts in this region as positive steps.

This section questions and answers were raised, including the British debt to Iran on the purchase of the tanks by Iran before the revolution, which former British military official Julian Lewis stated that the money belongs to Iran and should be paid back, “what we love Iran it or not".

This debt relates to the purchase of Chieftain tanks in 1971 between the British Ministry of Defense and the Pahlavi government, which was supposed to hand over 1,500 tanks and armored vehicles to Iran.

After the Islamic Revolution, the contract was canceled, and since Iran had paid all the money for the contract, it had demanded a payback. However, according to Hamid Baeedinejad, Iran's ambassador to the UK, authorities are using all possible means to delay payment of the debt.

In the meeting, Emma Nawaz commented on the banking restrictions on trade with Iran and said the British government would not enforce "blocking Statute" adopted to punish those companies that implement the US’ sanctions. According to him, the French government is doing better in forcing banks to do business with Iran.

Speaking on nuclear issues, Jack Crawley said Donald Trump has focused all his attention on the upcoming US election and his effort to be re-elected.

He said that Trump's decisions, especially in the Middle East, should be interpreted in this context, saying that now, and in light of his recent decision to leave Syria, all the major players in the region, including Russia, are re-calculating the status quo.

He called Iran a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which, in addition to its limitations, should also benefit from it. According to the former US official, the Shah's regime intended to build nearly 25 nuclear power plants in Iran by the end of the 20th century, but the project was halted because of the revolution.

Iran has failed to reap the benefits of these treaties despite adhering to the provisions of the NPT and subsequently, until recently, fully adhering to the provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

At the meeting, analysts generally agreed that due to Iran's historical background and current role in the region, a comprehensive security treaty should be negotiated with Iran and other regional powers, including the Saudi regime. They described Iran's concerns and its expectation of mutual respect as legitimate and acceptable.

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