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MEP’s visit to Iran ‘naive’

A planned visit to Iran by a delegation of left-wing MEPs has been attacked by Martin Callanan MEP, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament, as sending mixed signals about our resolve towards the regime.

A planned visit to Iran by a delegation of left-wing MEPs has been attacked by Martin Callanan MEP, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament, as sending mixed signals about our resolve towards the regime.

The delegation will travel to Tehran between April 26th and May 7th.

A previously planned visit was cancelled last October after Iranian authorities refused parliament’s condition that the delegation be permitted to meet with human rights advocates who were awarded the parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

Such a stipulation has not been made by the parliament on this occasion.

The delegation was approved at yesterday’s meeting of the parliament’s group leaders, despite opposition from the centre-right groups. Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt sided with the left in the meeting.

It comes despite the EU’s recent renewal of sanctions for human rights abuses, as well as sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Callanan said:

“The European Parliament is making a profound mistake.

“We cannot send mixed signals to Tehran about our resolve to tackle Iran’s nuclear programme and our disgust at its human rights record. We need to stand united and allow relations to be handled through those with experience.

“This visit will be abused by the Iranian authorities for their own propaganda. We should not hand them opportunities.

“The mostly left-wing MEPs on this visit seem to think they will be able to talk the government around into stopping its nuclear programme and improving human rights. Whilst I do not doubt their commitment, they are being utterly naïve.

“EU foreign ministers rightly imposed and renewed strong sanctions against the Iranian regime. It would be wrong to impose sanctions on the regime one day and then accept their hospitality the next.”

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