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Iran summons two EU envoys over opposition invite

Written by: Staff

TEHRAN, Oct 25 (Reuters) Iran summoned the Belgian and Finnish ambassadors today to complain about an invitation given to the leader of an exiled Iranian opposition group to speak at the Belgian senate.

It was the second time in a week that the two ambassadors were summoned over the invitation from a group of Belgian senators to Maryam Rajavi, head of the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

NCRI is the political wing of the armed People's Mujahideen, which is banned by the EU as a terrorist organisation.

Iran's official news agency IRNA reported that Ebrahim Rahimpour, a senior Foreign Ministry official, ''strongly criticised Belgium and Europe's double standards towards terrorism''.

Rahimpour was also quoted as telling the Finnish ambassador, whose country holds the rotating European Union's presidency, that the EU should adhere to ''regulations regarding the list of terrorist groups''.

He did not specify to which regulations he was referring.

A Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Rajavi's meeting was ''not at an official level and she was not received by any member of the government, be it federal or regional'', adding that the NCRI is not on the EU list of banned terrorist groups.

Finland's Foreign Ministry also confirmed the summons.

NCRI has some devoted followers in Europe and the United States and was first to expose Iran's covert nuclear programme in 2002. But diplomats and Iranian analysts say the People's Mujahideen has little support in Iran where few can forgive its siding with Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

In an interview with Reuters in Brussels yesterday, Rajavi said the West had failed in a policy of ''appeasement'' with Iran over its nuclear programme and must hit Tehran with tough economic and diplomatic sanctions.

The West says Iran is seeking to develop atomic bombs and now wants to punish Iran with sanctions for not heeding UN demands to halt sensitive atomic work. Iran insists it only wants to make fuel for nuclear power plants.

Reuters PB DB2031

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