Friday, June 09, 2006

Iranian Exile Groups Condemn US Overtures

Guy Dinmore, The Financial Times:
Rival Iranian opposition groups in exile have condemned the Bush administration’s conditional offer to begin negotiations with the Islamic republic if it halts its nuclear programme . Mustafa Hijri, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) told the Financial Times that he believed he had been given access to only low-level US officials during his visit to Washington because the administration did not want to antagonise Iran.

When they are eager to speak to the Iranian regime, they don’t receive you at a high level,” he said.

Mr Hijri said he had only met members of parliament in the UK and not the government for the same reasons. “It is a difficult time for us,” he said.

The offer of talks with Iran was a mistake, Mr Hijri said, because the ruling clerics could not be trusted and would only lie about their nuclear programme and continue with clandestine activities.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last Shah of Iran who was ousted in the 1979 Islamic revolution, has also criticised the US offer. Speaking in Paris this week after meeting French lawmakers, he said the Bush administration was strengthening the hand of hardliners in Tehran.

Mr Hijri, who is based in northern Iraq, leads one of Iran’s oldest political parties. Last year the KDPI formed an association with representatives of other Iranian ethnic minority groups - including Arabs, Azeris and Baluch but not Persian monarchists - calling for a federal system within Iran that would give autonomy to the regions.

Mr Hijri said the US and its European allies were wrong to focus on the nuclear issue to the neglect of human rights, lack of democracy, Iran’s support for terrorist groups and its treatment of the country’s diverse nationalities. READ MORE

The Iranian government has accused the US and UK of stirring up ethnic unrest among its minorities along the border with Iraq.