The Slovenia Times

Iranian FM Visiting Slovenia


Zbogar and Salehi underlined at a joint press conference that trade between the countries was growing rapidly, but that there were many more opportunities to seize.

Zbogar told the press after the lunch that there was a very positive trend in trade between the two countries. Last year, trade rose by 25% to EUR 45m, while in the first quarter of 2011, it expanded by a further 50%.

A mixed bilateral commission for economic cooperation is scheduled to meet in September, according to Zbogar, who said that Salehi had made several concrete suggestions as to how to strengthen bilateral cooperation also on the regional level.

Salehi said that there was great potential for cooperation in the fields of economy, science and industry. He expressed hope that the mixed commission will come up with good programmes to boost economic cooperation.

He said that Slovenia's industry had great potential and could benefit from the opportunities provided by Iran's market of 75 million and also by the wider region with a population of some 300 million.

The countries could also work together in multilateral cooperation by setting up joint-ventures, according to Salehi.

The ministers moreover exchanged their views on the situation in the Middle East. "Iran is an important power in this region and we are of course interested in Tehran's position on a number of issues," said Zbogar.

The pair also touched on what Zbogar labelled a delicate issue: relations between Iran and the EU and efforts to revive the dialogue on Iran's nuclear programme.

Zbogar noted that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed the willingness to relaunch dialogue with Iran. "I am glad that the Iranian side views the relaunch of dialogue in the same way and I am confident that such starting points could help find a way to revive the dialogue," said Zbogar.

He reiterated the view shared by Slovenia and the EU that Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but there must not be any suspicion that the energy is being used for other purposes.

Salehi said that Iran was ready to relaunch the talks, saying that it had very good relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that its inspectors were constantly present in the country.

He noted that Iran was a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and respected all obligations stemming from that document, but added that the country also had the right to use nuclear energy.

The Iranian foreign minister said that the country's religion prohibited Iran from building or using nuclear weapons.

When asked to comment on the accusations made by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta that Iran was providing arms for Iraqi rebels, Salehi responded that the US had been claiming that for the past 30 years.

Iran does not find the US to be well suited for setting the standards of what is wrong or right.

Zbogar told the press that he had also touched on the issue of capital punishment in Iran, expressing a wish for Iran to curb the number of executions it carries out.

Salehi was scheduled to inaugurate the new Iranian embassy in Ljubljana in the afternoon.


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