Friday, October 03, 2003

Blame Canada?

Taking a short break from America and Israel bashing, Iran has focused some of its ire on Canada.

Iran's foreign ministry lashed out at Canada Wednesday for what it described at "undiplomatic" behaviour, taking issue with complaints in Ottawa over Tehran's record on human rights and the nuclear issue."With these kinds of uncustomary and undiplomatic statements, the Canadians have put themselves into a position of weakness for political discussions and have damaged the development of trust and understanding between the two countries," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told the state news agency Irna.

Asefi was reacting to comments Monday by Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham, who announced Canada's ambassador to Iran was to return to Tehran after several months of being kept at home in protest over the beating death of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. Graham said two main reasons for the return of Ambassador Philip MacKinnon were the decision by Iranian authorities to put on open trial a suspect in the Kazemi case and the need to maintain pressure on Iran not to develop nuclear weapons.

Graham said MacKinnon will be carrying a letter from Prime Minister Jean Chretien insisting "that in the matter of Madame Kazemi's death, Canada continues to press for the return of Madame Kazemi's body to Canada and to press for a full, open and transparent trial whereby those who are responsible for her death are brought to justice." Asefi hit back by saying "this kind of statement has no effect on the policy of the Islamic republic."

Gosh, those mean Canadians! How dare they criticize Iran for human rights abuses and its nuclear weapons program!


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