Iran says visit by Britain's Cook still on cards
TEHRAN, Nov 20 (AFP) - An Iran visit by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook,
to be the first by a member of the British government since the 1979 Islamic
revolution but postponed three times, is still on the cards, the foreign
ministry said Monday.
"The trip has not been cancelled but the date has not yet been
fixed," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said, cited by
the official IRNA news agency.
The third postponement was reported Saturday in the Qods newspaper,
which said the visit would not now take place this year.
Cook called off a May visit as the date fell near the second round of
Iran's parliamentary elections, while a re-scheduled trip in June had to
be put off because of Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi's overloaded schedule.
Kharazi visited London in January, with the two nations having restored
full diplomatic relations that had been strained by the Salman Rushdie
Tehran said in 1998 that it would not seek to carry out the death sentence
on the British author, which had been called for by Islamic Iran's late
founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Khomeini called for Rushdie's death in 1989 over his satirical portrayal
of the Islamic prophet Mohamed in his novel, "The Satanic Verses,"
which infuriated Muslims worldwide.