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Iran protests to NATO over damage to mission residence in Belgrade

TEHRAN, May 23 (AFP) - Iran filed an official protest with NATO on Sunday over damage to the residence of the Iranian mission in Belgrade in a NATO air raid, the official IRNA news agency said.

IRNA said foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi had "vehemently protested" about the "air raid over the residence of the Iranian mission located at the diplomatic compound in Belgrade."

"The NATO air raid on the diplomatic compound in central Belgrade has caused damage to the building of the residence of the Iranian mission with no casualty due to absence of the staff at the moment," IRNA quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

IRNA did not specify when the residence was damaged.

But the Iranian mission in Belgrade told AFP that a number of windows in the ambassador's residence had been blown out during a NATO raid on the night of May 19 which also damaged a nearby hospital, the Swedish embassy and the residences of the Norwegian and Spanish ambassadors.

The foreign ministry spokesman also said Iran is "concerned about the continued crisis in the Balkans and escalation of violence in Yugoslavia."

"Unfortunately, the extent of crisis in the Balkans has grown complicatedly and the necessity of resolving the crisis is now felt more than ever," Asefi said.

Three people were killed in a NATO missile attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 8 in what the alliance described as a "tragic mistake" caused by "faulty information."

In a reference to the presence of US military forces in Gulf states, Khatami also reiterated that the Gulf countries did not need the presence of foreign forces to ensure their security.

He also said that a dispute with the United Arab Emirates over three islands in the Gulf could only be settled through dialogue and called on the UAE to "show its good intentions."

The UAE disputes Iran's claims to the three small Gulf islands, and has demanded that the issue be submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.


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