Written Answers. - Islamic Republic of Iran.

Michael Ring

Question:

68 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Iran. [22064/98]

I have been following closely developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the election of President Khatami last year. Many of these have been positive — for example an increase in the democratic process, greater transparency in government and a marked emphasis on the importance of the rule of law. The recent announcement by the Government of the Islamic Republic regarding the case of Salman Rushdie is very welcome. However, I still remain concerned at certain aspects of the human rights situation in that country, especially in the case of the Bahai community, and will be pursuing this matter, in conjunction with our EU partners, at the current session of the UN General Assembly.

These internal developments have been matched by a growth of a more pragmatic approach to issues in the foreign policy field. These include a resumption of the dialogue with the EU, the beginning of reconciliation with the US and the ending of the diplomatic isolation of the Islamic Republicvis-a -vis its neighbours in the Gulf region.
Ireland maintains close and friendly diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic. I met with Foreign Minister Kharrazzi in New York in September and propose to visit that country in the near future to discuss the further strengthening of our bilateral relations.