Dow Jones Newswires: European Union foreign ministers called on Iran Monday to show greater respect for human rights, saying the situation in Iran was deteriorating and damaging E.U.-Iran ties. The E.U. ministers said they regretted that Iran has failed to hold talks on human rights this year, “despite the E.U.’s strong and repeated requests.” Dow Jones Newswires
BRUSSELS — European Union foreign ministers called on Iran Monday to show greater respect for human rights, saying the situation in Iran was deteriorating and damaging E.U.-Iran ties. The E.U. ministers said they regretted that Iran has failed to hold talks on human rights this year, “despite the E.U.’s strong and repeated requests.”
“Greater respect for human rights in Iran is essential for progress in E.U.- Iran relations,” said an annual E.U. review of human rights, adopted by the foreign ministers.
Human rights talks with Tehran were to be held alongside negotiations to draft a free trade pact. However, both have been frozen in the wake of European and U.S. fears that Iran is setting up a nuclear weapons program.
“The deteriorating human rights situation and the absence of action by the Iranian authorities to reform laws and official practices, which allow human rights violations to occur, cast serious doubt” on Iran’s intentions to respect fundamental freedoms of their citizens, it said.
The E.U. called on Iran to “demonstrate its commitment to human rights and to the (E.U.) dialogue.” It said the E.U. remains open to discussing human rights with Iran, adding that otherwise it would back plans for a U.N. resolution on human rights in Iran.
The 25-nation bloc and Tehran are deadlocked over Iran’s nuclear program and recent comments made by Iran’s president.
The E.U. last week condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for suggesting Israel be moved to Europe so the continent can make amends for the Holocaust. In late October, he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” comments which also drew swift condemnation by countries around the world.
Iran has vowed to press ahead with enriching uranium and producing nuclear fuel in defiance of E.U. and U.S.-led efforts to stop such moves.
France, Germany and the U.K., negotiating for the E.U., broke off talks with Tehran originally meant to ease tensions over its nuclear activities. Last month the U.K. offered new negotiations to persuade Tehran to give up its insistence on running its own domestic program of uranium enrichment – a possible pathway to nuclear arms.
Iran continues to insist that its program is aimed at generating electricity.
The U.N.’s nuclear energy agency has warned Tehran that its nuclear program could be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions against Iran.