NATIONAL

Iran favours India, Pak. direct talks

HYDERABAD JAN. 28. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazzi, has stressed the need for India and Pakistan to talk directly to resolve their outstanding problems over Kashmir.

Addressing a press conference here at the conclusion of a successful five-day visit by the Iranian delegation to India, Mr. Kharrazzi said: "It is true that there are important U.N. resolutions regarding Kashmir, but basically the issue has to be resolved through direct talks and negotiations.'' He also added that "concerns of the Kashmiris'' must be taken into account in any solution to the problem.

Reiterating Iran's commitment to a multi-pronged relation with India, he said the agreements reached on issues of energy, trade, infrastructure and security would go a long way in cementing these ties. He was also hopeful that the vexed "oil pipeline" issue would be resolved soon.

Mr. Kharrazzi expressed grave concern over the insistence of the U.S. to initiate "unilateral action'' in Iraq and said such "military muscle-flexing'' would have disastrous consequences. He accused the U.S. of pursuing a "hidden agenda'' in the oil-rich Persian Gulf and added "Iraq is merely an excuse.''

He agreed that with U.S. forces already in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, their entry and consolidation in Iraq would be of concern to Iran's security, but added that he did not see Iran being "next on the list'' of U.S. military action.

Responding to a question whether Iran would openly support Iraq if U.S. forces attacked that country, he said "Iran will not participate in the war, but will also not remain indifferent to the situation. We shall take all measures to protect our national interests.''

Mr. Kharrazzi stressed the need to build a "coalition of peace'' to counter the U.S. attempts to build a "coalition of war'' and said that war in the Persian Gulf would lead to rise in oil prices which would adversely affect every country, including India.

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