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The spokesman also said Israel is solely responsible for the conflict in Gaza and should be tried for ‘war crimes’. “Neither Iran nor Hamas seek conflict or war, or aim to endanger the lives of innocent people,” Mehmanparast said. The guilty party is ‘the criminal Zionist (Israeli) regime, which should be tried for war crimes’, he said.
He made the remarks in response to comments by Israeli President Shimon Peres, who accused Iran of encouraging the Palestinians to continue rocket attacks on Israel rather than negotiate a ceasefire.
Mehmanparast meanwhile praised ‘the firm response from Gaza’ and stressed that the Palestinians must be armed against Israel. He neither denied nor confirmed that Iran is supplying Hamas with rockets.
“Who produces the Fajr 5 missiles is a question for military experts ... and how these missiles are being delivered to the Palestinians should be answered by intelligence officials in the Zionist regime,” he said in an ambiguous formulation.
“But what is important is that the Palestinians should be armed to defend themselves,” he added.
The Fajr 5 rocket can hit targets up to 75 kilometers (46 miles) away, a far greater range than the home-produced Qassam rockets normally used by Palestinian militants in Gaza to target Israel.
A top Iranian lawmaker, Alaeddin Borujerdi, had earlier denied Iran is sending missiles to Hamas.
Mehmanparast added that helping the people of Palestine and Gaza is the duty of all countries particularly Islamic nations. “When the Zionist regime commits crimes against these defenseless people, it is required that all countries take necessary measures to defend the people of Palestine.”
No Division With Hamas
Mehmanparast also denied any rift with Hamas, saying Iran has ‘always supported and will support the people of Palestine and Palestinian fighters, in particular Hamas and the Islamic Jihad’.
He said supporting the Palestinians is ‘one of the fundamental cornerstones of Iran’s foreign policy’ since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran’s top diplomat is hoping to travel to Gaza this coming weekend or early next week.
Deputy Foreign Minster Hassan Qashqavi said Salehi is waiting for the final approval of Egyptian authorities, who control the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza.
Commenting on US President Barack Obama’s recent remarks about diplomacy with Iran, Mehmanparast said, “Any country or president that announces its readiness for negotiations with Iran within the P5+1 [group of world powers] must prove his respect for our nation’s rights in practice.”
In his first press conference after being re-elected US president on November 14, Obama said, “I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialog between Iran and not just us, but the international community, to see if we can get this thing resolved.” Mehmanparast said, “We have repeatedly announced that we neither pursue anything more than our rights nor allow our nation’s right to peaceful nuclear activities be limited or blocked.”
The official said Iran is committed to its obligations and wants to use its rights ‘within the framework of peaceful objectives’.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran says its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for civilian purposes.
Mehmanparast further shrugged off comments by the UN atomic watchdog chief that Tehran’s nuclear drive is ‘worrying’, insisting that such concerns can be resolved in ‘technical-legal’ talks.
“If the Agency takes a rational approach in the talks an agreement is reachable ... (even) quickly,” he said.
“If there are worries they can be resolved in technical-legal talks,” he added.
IAEA chief Yukio Amano’s comments came after the agency said last Friday it remained ‘unable’ to say all Iranian activities were peaceful and that Tehran had completed installation at its Fordow site, allowing it to significantly ramp up production.
“The situation is worrying but it is important to continue to seek a diplomatic solution,” Amano told reporters after talks with French President Francois Hollande on Monday.
The IAEA and Iran have agreed to hold another round of talks on December 13 in Tehran.
Mehmanparast also repeated Iran’s denial it is sanitizing a military base where the UN atomic agency wants to probe evidence of possible weapons research. Amano said in Baghdad earlier this month that efforts to dismantle traces of possible weapons research at the Parchin site near Tehran were ‘ongoing’.
“It is not possible to clean up nuclear activities and (nuclear) traces will remain,” Mehmanparast said. “It is not appropriate for the director of the Agency to make remarks which the experts consider non-technical and not legal.”
The IAEA wants Iran to grant it access to Parchin, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants to examine again.
Syrians Decide on Crisis Resolution
Commenting on the Syrian crisis, Mehmanparast said, “There are two views and approaches regarding the Syrian issue. According to the first view, various countries believe in a peaceful and political solution to the Syrian crisis, an end to violence and a halt in arms dispatch [to Syria] in order to prepare the ground for national dialog so that with a comprehensive approach a necessary decision would be taken for basic steps toward reforms and elections.”
The supporters of the second approach believe in the continuation of violence, sending arms to Syria and paving the way for foreign intervention in the country, Mehmanparast said, expressing regret that some western countries support this approach.
He reiterated that it is up to the Syrian people to choose between the two approaches.
Syria has been experiencing a deadly unrest since March 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil.
In response to a question by Iran Daily about Syria’s National Dialog meeting recently hosted by Iran, Mehmanparast said representatives of many Syrian political and religious groups inside Syria attended the event though some refused to take part in the session.
He said more Syrian opposition groups should be involved in talks as this requires the opposition come to this conclusion that insurgency will be of no use.
Nearly 200 participants, including Syrian scholars, tribal and religious leaders, the representatives of different ethnicities, minorities and the opposition participated in the meeting hosted by Iran.
Ahmadinejad to Join Syria Talks in D8
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to join a tripartite meeting among Iran, Turkey and Egypt on the Syrian crisis during his upcoming visit to Pakistan where he is due to attend a summit meeting of the group of eight Muslim developing countries (D8).
Iranian, Turkish and Egyptian presidents are to explore ways of easing the crisis in Syria on the sidelines of the D8 summit meeting in Islamabad, Director General of the Presidential Office for international affairs Mohammad Reza Forqani told Fars News Agency on Tuesday.
The Iranian president is due to leave Tehran for Islamabad on Wednesday evening to take part in the D8 summit meeting scheduled for November 22.
Iranian officials have frequently stressed the need for finding a political solution to Syria without foreign interference and expressed their readiness to assist with a peaceful settlement of unrests in Syria.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.
Thousands of people, including members of the security forces, were killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes.
The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.
China Urges Dialog on N-Issue
China also has called for negotiations and diplomacy as the ‘only right way’ to resolve the western standoff over Iran’s nuclear energy program.
“China has always considered that dialog and cooperation is the only right way to properly resolve the Iranian nuclear issue,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.
The Chinese official made the remarks following the release of the latest report issued by the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Hua said the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US plus Germany) must pursue talks with Iran. She further urged the IAEA to enhance cooperation with the Islamic Republic to achieve a comprehensive, long-term and appropriate solution.
Iran and the P5+1 have held several rounds of multifaceted talks mainly over the Iranian nuclear energy program.
Following a meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on November 14 in Tehran, Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili expressed Tehran’s readiness to continue negotiations and urged the P5+1 to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
Iran says electricity generation is the main motivation for nuclear work but its adversaries claim Tehran’s underlying goal is atomic weapons capability, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations.
Iran denies the charges and stresses that as a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Hamas Will Decide End To Gaza War
An Iranian deputy foreign minister said that although Israel began the ongoing deadly war on Gaza, but the Islamic Resistance will make the decision on how and when it would end.
“The Zionist regime [of Israel] wanted to target the arsenals and headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance movements in a lightening attack,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday, Press TV reported.
As many as 112 Palestinians have been killed and about 1,000 others injured in intensified Israeli attacks against the coastal sliver since November 14.
The Israeli military said on Monday that it had conducted more than 1,350 aerial and sea attacks against Gaza since the beginning of the escalated aggression.
Amir-Abdollahian stated that Israelis thought they could request a cease-fire after launching missile attacks against Gaza, targeting Hamas’ arsenals, and killing the Islamic Jihad’s leaders.
On November 14, Ahmed Al-Ja’abari, the commander of Hamas’ military wing Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed in an Israeli attack on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Iranian official added that later developments, however, proved Israel’s calculations and strategy wrong.
“The war might have been started by the Zionist regime, but ending it will not be decided by them and the resistance in Gaza and Palestine will decide how and when to end the conflict,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
The Iranian official stated that the Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil’s visit to Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing airstrikes was a courageous act which sent a strong message to the international community.
Qandil arrived in Gaza on November 16 to express Egypt’s solidarity with the Palestinians.
Iran Keen on Helping Syria Restore Stability
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the Islamic Republic will continue its efforts to help resolve the ongoing crisis in Syria and restore peace and stability in the Arab country.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has used and will use all of its political capacity and capability to help the Syrian people move beyond the current sensitive conditions and restore stability and security in the country,” Salehi said in a meeting with Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Syria’s Aleppo, on the sidelines of the second day of the Syria National Dialog meeting in Tehran on Monday.
The Syrians themselves must determine their destiny and any political reform in their country must be undertaken by the Syrian nation, Salehi stressed, ISNA reported.
The top diplomat lashed out at certain foreign countries that seek to create a political vacuum in the Arab country and warned of the dire consequences of continued insecurity in Syria particularly for its neighboring countries.
“It is only the Zionist regime (Israel) that benefits from a weak and insecure Syria,” Salehi added.
Yohanna Ibrahim, for his part, described the Syria National Dialog meeting as very important and hailed Iran’s role in settling the Syrian unrest as crucial and influential. The archbishop also called for the continuation of the talks between all Syrian parties to bring an end to the crisis in the Arab country.
The two-day meeting on Syria with the main theme of ‘No to Violence, Yes to Democracy’ wrapped up in Tehran on Monday with the participants unanimously opposing foreign interference and calling for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. Salehi had earlier said that representatives from nearly 40 active Syrian political parties, including 130 figures from inside Syria and 40 Syrian and non-Syrian figures from other countries, had taken part in the meeting.
Those attending the meeting agreed to form a committee to follow through national dialog in Syria and to extend the talks to other Syrian groups to prepare the ground for national reconciliation and political reforms.
Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011 and tens of thousands of people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil.
The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country. Damascus blames western countries and some of their regional allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming the opposition and fueling the crisis in the country, as reports indicate that a large number of insurgents fighting the Syrian government are foreign nationals.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said in August that the country is engaged in a ‘crucial and heroic’ battle that will determine the destiny of the nation. Iran has repeatedly rejected foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs, calling for national dialog as the only way out of the country’s prolonged impasse.
First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi on Tuesday congratulated Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Saeed on the country’s National Day.