Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Iran: Canada 'one-sided' in diplomatic spat.

Why is the reaction completely unjustifiable when Canada has already rejected two Iranian suggested candidates for ambassador? No doubt the Iranian nominees must first be vetted by the US to see if they are acceptable! The Iranian human rights record is not a good one but neither is the US or Israel in some respects for that matter but Harper never criticises either country on that score. Harper's govt. looks more and more as if it is replacing the UK as the chief lapdog of the US.

Canada 'one-sided' in diplomatic spat: Iran
Updated Tue. Dec. 4 2007 11:29 PM ET News Staff

Iran says that Canada has not followed procedure in the current diplomatic spat between the two nations, the country's official news agency reported Tuesday.

"Iran has not yet received the credentials of the Canadian ambassador and what Canada's Foreign Ministry has done so far has not been in line with the usual manner of exchanging ambassadors with a mutual and common will," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is surprised the Canadian side ... has created a gap between statements and actions and has chosen a one-sided approach."

Hosseini's statement didn't mention that Iran had expelled Ambassador John M. Mundy on Monday. Mundy had been accepted by Iran in February and arrived in the country in April.

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has described Iran's actions as "completely unjustifiable."

Canada has also rejected two Iranian candidates for ambassador to Canada.

CTV's Robert Fife reported Monday that the previous two candidates proposed by Iran were believed to be student radicals in the 1970s and may be linked to the U.S. embassy hostage-taking in 1980.

Ken Taylor, a former ambassador to Iran who helped the Americans escape, said he hoped Canada and Iran would be able to repair their diplomatic ties.

"They've got to vent their frustration and I hope that (expelling Munday) is merely that -- that this is not any fundamental friction in the relationship," he said.

Bernier said the expelling of Mundy was clearly linked to Canada's rejection of the Iranian candidates.

NDP Jack Layton said Bernier's comments were only making the situation worse.

"He should be working on a solution rather than inflaming the rhetoric right now," he said.

Gar Pardy, a former Canadian ambassador, told CTV Newsnet that he saw the whole episode as symbolic of the poor relations between Canada and Iran.

"It has been bad since 1980 when we helped seven Americans escape Iran and the relationship has been bad ever since, quite frankly," he said.

The 2003 murder of Iranian-born Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi further chilled relations between the two countries, Pardy said.

However, Iran surprised many when the country's supreme court ordered a new probe into the Kazemi case. Canada's official response was that there would be little movement in relations between the two countries until the Kazemi case is resolved.

Canada has clashed with Iran in other ways.

"Canada was successful two weeks ago in convincing the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning human rights abuses in Iran, which was an unprecedented occurrence," Pardy said.

With no ambassador, the embassy's charge d'affairs will be the ranking officer, he said.

The embassy should still be able to provide services to Canadian in Iran. But if another difficult case arrives, it will be tougher to help that person without an ambassador in the country, he said.

With a report by CTV's Graham Richardson in Ottawa

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