French Minister Dumas Leaves Iran; Mitterrand-Rafsanjani to Meet Soon
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas left Iran on Sunday, saying progress had been made on settling a billion-dollar dispute that has strained relations between the two countries for over a decade.
Speaking at the same airport press conference as Dumas, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said a solution was expected to be announced within two weeks, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. He earlier predicted a settlement would be reached before Dumas ended his visit.
Dumas said he hoped a proper plan could be formulated to end the dispute, which involves a $1-billion loan made to Eurodif, a French-based uranium enrichment consortium, before the ouster of the pro-Western Iranian monarchy in 1979.
Tehran has demanded that France repay the loan, plus another $1 billion in interest. France has paid $630 million of the loan in two installments.
The agency quoted Mahmoud Vaezi, deputy foreign minister for Europe and America, as saying France needed to show ″greater flexibility″ toward a quick settlement of the dispute.
Velayati was quoted as saying President Hashemi Rafsanjani of Iran will soon meet his French counterpart Francois Mitterrand.
Officials have said Rafsanjani planned to visit France in the summer, the first trip to a European Community nation by an Iranian president since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Mitterrand sent Rafsanjani a letter through Dumas, but its contents were not disclosed.
Dumas, who arrived Friday on the visit, also spoke about a regional security plan discussed in the wake of the Gulf War. Iran is eager to see all Western forces depart and its Arab neighbors accept an Iranian role in the region.
″It is difficult at the moment to find a definite plan for the region, but all must have a share in the plan and the U.N. must participate in it,″ the agency quoted him as saying.
The news agency earlier quoted Rafsanjani as telling Dumas that the United States was trying to ″monopolize power in the region through its aggressive policies.″
Rafsanjani, leader of the pragmatist camp in the Iranian hierarchy, has been seeking to bridge relations with the West, but radicals seek to maintain Iran’s isolation.
On the issue of Iraqi refugees, Dumas pledged more aid for Shiite Muslim refugees who fled to Iran following a failed rebellion in Iraq. He visited refugee camps during his stay.
Rafsanjani told Dumas that problems rising from the influx of the more than 1 million Iraqi refugees were ″disastrous″ for Iran. He said Iran was spending $15 million a day on the refugees.
German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher was expected in Tehran on Monday.