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    U.S. LOOKS ASKANCE AT IRANIAN-EUROPEAN CONTACTS

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    TEHERAN, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Hamid Reza Asefi, official spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said that the European tour of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Harrazi has left the United States dissatisfied.

    The press service of the Iranian foreign policy establishment said on Friday that, in the opinion of Assefi, "this week's visits of Harrazi to Italy, Belgium, Ireland, France and Britain and his high-level talks there have obviously disgruntled the United States".

    "It is the only explanation for the obvious lie uttered by President George Bush about Iran's intention to create nuclear weapons, as well as the publication carried by The New York Times saying that the talks between French President Jacques Chirac and Harrazi passed in an unfriendly atmosphere".

    The Iranian diplomat rejected Bush's allegations, the fabricated conclusions of the American newspaper and said that "the meeting between the French president and the Iranian foreign minister was held in a very friendly atmosphere. Chirac called Iran an important partner of France and highly assessed the atmosphere of trust inherent in Iranian-French relations, promoting the strengthening of regional security".

    Asefi gave a positive assessment of Harrazi's European tour and noted that "in discussion with the high-ranking persons in those countries were problems of the Iranian nuclear programmes and Teheran's expectations in this field, particularly before the upcoming sitting of the IAEA board of governors in Vienna, due in June".

    "The sides exchanged opinions on the situation in Iraq. Teheran's position on settling the Iraqi crisis was brought home to Europeans. The leadership of European states gave it a positive assessment", Asefi said.

    In his opinion, progress has also been reached in the expansion of trade-economic cooperation within the Iran-EU framework.

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