Vienna, 12 July 2011 – On Tuesday, Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger met his Iranian colleague Ali Akbar Salehi for talks in Vienna. Foreign Minister Spindelegger seized the opportunity – the second since Salehi’s appointment as Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in December 2010 – for a clear statement, expressing his concern about the dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran and voicing his disappointment that the negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear status had been deadlocked for more than a year.
The Foreign Minister expressed his protest against the latest wave of executions and the difficult living conditions of religious minorities in Iran, such as the Baha’i, and human rights defenders. “The climate of repression in Iran gives me cause for concern. I appeal to Iran to change its course and to comply with its international commitments and obligations,” said Spindelegger. The Foreign Minister also addressed the fates of individuals, such as the two women’s rights activists Mahnaz Mohammadi and Maryam Majd, who were arrested recently and whose release he demanded. He also called for an investigation into the case of Pastor Yousef Nadharkani, who is accused of apostasy, and reiterated his appeal for a swift release of the two US backpackers who have been in jail since August 2009.
As regards the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear dossier, which have been deadlocked for more than a year, Vice-Chancellor Spindelegger asked Foreign Minister Salehi for a clear sign of good will. Since the meeting in Istanbul at the beginning of 2011, Iran has taken no steps to eliminate continued doubts over the purely peaceful goal of its nuclear programme. “The standstill with regard to the nuclear dossier is irresponsible. Indeed, the lack of trust between the international community and Iran has grown even further,” emphasised Spindelegger. “We expect a clear sign of willingness to engage in a substantial dialogue on the nuclear programme, without any preconditions. The offers of the international community are on the table. It is now up to Iran to break out of its isolation,” he concluded.
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