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Dr. Friday questions wisdom of Iran loan

Dr. Friday questions wisdom of Iran loan

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“There is nothing untoward with us having diplomatic relations with Iran.”

Those were the words of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves in response to a question asked in parliament on Thursday, August 28, by Dr Godwin Friday, Parliamentary Representative for the Northern Grenadines.{{more}}

Dr Gonsalves was filling in for Foreign Minister, Sir Louis Straker, who was away on government business.

Dr Friday was questioning the wisdom of government’s announced pursuit of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In a three-part question, Dr Friday questioned whether or not it was in our national interest to accept money from Iran and if this move could not be interpreted by the United States of America and the international community as support for Iran “in its current international situation regarding its nuclear programme.”

As he addressed the question, Dr Gonsalves noted that Iran had diplomatic relations with about 180 of the 200 countries in the United Nations. He said that, including St Vincent and the Grenadines, Iran now has diplomatic relations with eight of CARICOM’s 14 independent states.

He also highlighted that Iran has embassies in 100 countries and 90 countries have embassies in Iran.

In the area of trade, he said that goods valued at EURO $13.8 billion are exported from Iran to Europe, while Europe, led by Germany, exports EURO $10 billion in goods to Iran.

He said that all this goes to show that St Vincent and the Grenadines isn’t being a rogue state by establishing a relationship with the Middle East oil rich state; neither does this relationship indicate agreement with all of Iran’s policies and stances.

“Iran, in our view…profoundly, mistakenly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. We do not support that position. We support Israel having safe and secure borders just as we support the Palestinians having a state,” Dr Gonsalves said.

“I will take a grant or a soft loan from Iran,” he made clear, and dismissed the concerns raised by some about the relationship with Iran as a mark of insecurity.

“It is a mark of profound insecurity in some of our people to think some how that (if) we have diplomatic relations with Iran, Iran is going to convert us to Islam or as a result America is going to bomb us.”

The announcement of the diplomatic ties being formed between this country and Iran was made by Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Louis Straker on his return from Tehran, where he attended a meeting of the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM).

It was while there that a meeting was set up with Iranian officials and a declaration was signed between the two countries announcing, among other things, Iran’s plans to assist with the Argyle International Airport and the establishment of formal diplomatic ties.

Ambassador Dexter Rose, this country’s resident Ambassador to Cuba, was named as the non-resident Ambassador to Iran, and his Iranian counterpart in Cuba was similarly appointed.

Dr Gonsalves did not address the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme in response to Dr Friday’s question.

However, Sir Louis on his return from that NAM meeting had said that he had no reason to doubt Iran’s position that their nuclear ambitions were domestic in nature and that they had no military nuclear aspirations. (KJ)

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