Leaders of Iran

Monday, December 27, 2004

Mohammad-Javad Larijani criticises 'weak' foreign policy

IranMania News: "Former deputy FM criticises 'weak' foreign policy

Tuesday, December 03, 2002 - 2002 IranMania.com
TEHRAN, Dec 3 (AFP) - A prominent official in the conservative judiciary has hit out at Tehran's foreign policy and said opportunities had been missed for ties to be restored with Washington, newspapers reported Tuesday.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, deputy chief of the judiciary's international affairs department, also regretted the outcome of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy as well as the sentencing to death of Salman Rushdie.

In comments carried by the press, Larijani said that during a secret 1986 visit to Tehran by former US national security advisor Robert McFarlane, Iran "had a good opportunity to positively respond to this move by the United States, because the US wanted to establish ties with Iran".

However he was quoted as saying the moves, as part of the Iran-Contra affair, were hijacked by Israel.

"We should have plans in our foreign policy and execute our plans bravely. I believe that we should take risks over Iraq and the Persian Gulf," he said, without elaborating.

On the 1979 takeover of the US embassy by radical Islamic students, who held the embassy's staff hostage for 444 days and sparked a severing of Iranian-US relations, the conservative official voiced regret over how the incident panned out.

"Attacks and protests by students against an embassy are a natural act across the world. But when the government joined them, the incidents that followed were hasty decisions which harmed our interests," he said.

"We should be realistic and see the disadvantages."

And on the case of British author Rushdie, the subject of a fatwa, or religious decree, by the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for his death, he also voiced regret over the damage to Iran's image.

"The imam's fatwa was reflected in the world in way which created a bad image of our system.

"Imam Khomeini said that 'as a cleric, I have expressed my opinion about Salman Rushdie and his books, it is up to the government of Iran to follow nation's interest,'" he said.

"My understanding of the Imam's remarks was that we should announce to the world that we have no intention of ordering the killing or harming of Rushdie," he asserted.

Larijani did not single out current Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi in his criticism, saying that policy weaknesses were also present during the tenure of Ali Akbar Velayati, the former long-serving foreign minister.

"The inability to take risks in our foreign policy does not belong only to Kharazi: this has existed since Velayati's time," he said, regretting the failed efforts to the contrary by former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani."

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