Magazine article UN Chronicle

Secretary-General Has Wide-Ranging Discussions in Teheran and Baghdad

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Secretary-General Has Wide-Ranging Discussions in Teheran and Baghdad

Article excerpt

Secretary-General has wide-ranging discussions in Tehran and Baghdad

After a two-day visit to Iran and Iraq in April, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar reported he had been given "cause for encouragement" in his discussions with both sides, adding it would be "unrealistic to ignore the profound distrust that unfortunately still exists between the two parties."

Although both countries' positions "remain wide apart", he said, "there exists a real basis for pursuing efforts to bring closer the prospect of peace". As a first step, the Security Council should invite both countries to "take part in a renewed examination of all aspects of the conflict", he suggested.

In his report (S/17097), Mr. Perez de Cuellar said both countries had reaffirmed their desire for peace and their confidence in the Secretary-General and his efforts towards that end.

Mr. Perez de Cuellar visited Teheran from 7 to 8 April, meeting with President Sayed Ali Khamenei; Hashemi Rafsanjani, Speaker of the Majlis; Prime Minister Hosein Mousavi; Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati; and Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Kazempour-Ardebili.

On 8-9 April, while in Baghdad, he met with President Saddam Hussein, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ismat Kittani.

Wide-ranging discussions on all aspects of the conflict were held with both sides, Mr. Perez de Cuellar reported. Both had agreed that his eight-point proposals, presented to the two parties in New York in March, could serve as a basis for further discussion and that, for the time being, the United Nations inspection teams would remain at Baghdad and Teheran.

The "underlying premise" of his proposals, the Secretary-General went on, was that his "overriding constitutional responsibility" under the Charter was to seek to end the conflict. Until that goal was achieved, he was "legally obliged" to try to mitigate the effects of the war in areas such as attacks on civilian population centres, use of chemical weapons, treatment of prisoners of war, and safety of navigation and civil aviation. His proposals, he added, envisaged that both parties would enter into "sustained discussion" in all those respects with the Secretary-General.

Iran's position was that the application of specific conventions and protocols could not be conditional on a cease-fire; they had been adopted precisely to mitigate the effects of war. Iran stated it was prepared to accept a comprehensive cessation of hostilities provided the aggressor was condemned and reparations were paid.

Iraq's position was that any specific measures to mitigate the effects of war had to be clearly linked to a comprehensive cease-fire within a time-table; otherwise, they would have the effect of prolonging the war. In addition, such measures should include a mutual withdrawal of troops, a comprehensive exchange of prisoners of war and the reactivation of all ports. All issues, IRaq said, had to be dealt with in an integrated framework.

Also during his April visit, Mr. Perez de Cuellar said, Iranian officials had conveyed to him their "sense that since the beginning of the conflict the actions of the Security Council had not been impartial and just". Iran resented, he said, that the Council had "failed in its duty to condemn the aggressor" and had not "taken appropriate action to counter violations of international humanitarian law of which Iran has been victim." He cited the use of chemical weapons in particular in this connection. Iran felt that the "perceived attitude" of the Security Council constituted a serious obstacle, and that the Council must "rectify its past actions" if any process towards peace were to be started.

Mr. Perez de Cuellar said he had replied that Iran should explain its position to the Council directly, adding that he also had informed Iraqi authorities of those views.

Secretary-General's statement: The Secretary-General's visit to Iran and Iraq had been preceded by intensive discussions in late March with representatives of the two countries in New York. …

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