European lawmaker: There's support for EU embassy in Iran

Dec. 27, 2013 at 10:04 AM
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BRUSSELS, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- European diplomats say an EU embassy in Iran would lead to better relations with the country, the head of the European Parliament's Iran delegation says.

Tarja Cronberg of Finland, who represents the Green Party, said she discussed the possibility with ambassadors from member states of the European Union during a recent visit to Tehran, the EUobserver reported Friday. She said the Europeans hope for more "open exchange" with Tehran.

"They said the best tool for this would be an EU embassy or maybe the creation of an EU special representative as a first step," she said.

Cronberg said she also discussed the possibility with Iran's foreign minister and the president's chief of staff and found them "open to the idea."

But she said EU officials in Brussels are concerned about the cost of establishing a mission in Tehran.

Iranian officials also said they would welcome a visit from Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU's special representative for human rights, Cronberg said. The EU has concerns about human rights in Iran, including the imprisonment of journalists and dissidents and the country's large number of executions, including hundreds of people hanged every year for drug offenses.

Iranian officials also suggested they are considering changing the law to reduce the number of executions for drug-related crimes, Cronberg said. But she said officials still support the death penalty for other crimes, including sodomy.

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