UK's Cook presses Iran on Jewish prisoners
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 15 (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Robin
Cook raised the fate of 10 Iranian Jews jailed for alleged spying for Israel
with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Friday, British officials
``On the Shiraz detainees, the foreign secretary pressed for an early
and successful outcome to their appeal,'' an official said, adding that
Kharrazi had ``registered'' the message.
Kharrazi declined comment after the hour-long meeting. President Mohammad
Khatami told reporters in New York last week that the government could
not interfere in the workings of the independent judiciary, dominated by
his conservative rivals.
A revolutionary court in Shiraz sentenced the 10 Jews and two alleged
Moslem collaborators to jail sentences of two to 13 years in July for spying
for Israel after a secret trial condemned by Western governments and human
rights organisations as a travesty of justice.
Three Jews and two Moslems were acquitted and the case remains open
against at least four Moslems.
Cook has twice postponed a planned first visit to Iran this year, officially
because of scheduling problems but unofficially because of Jews' case,
The officials said Cook and Kharrazi also discussed the U.S.-brokered
Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, which Iran outspokenly opposes.
They quoted Kharrazi as saying Tehran would not support the peace process
but would also not block it.
Cook voiced support for Iran's efforts to fight drug trafficking and
offered 500,000 pounds ($700,000) in financial assistance for the effort.