09/04/2006, 00.00
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Annan's successes and failures in Teheran

The UN Secretary got Ahmadinejiad's support for peace in Lebanon. Teheran remains firm in its resolve to press ahead with its nuclear program but said it is open to "dialogue". More provocation about the Holocaust: its "exaggerations" will be examined in a conference.

Teheran (AsiaNews) – The UN secretary's visit to Iran on 2 and 3 September was marked by a combination of optimism and pessimism, success and failure. Kofi Annan managed to get Iran's backing to seek a solution of lasting peace in Lebanon but he secured only a promise of dialogue about its nuclear ambitions, after the expiry of a UN ultimatum to Tehran to stop enriching uranium.

Annan said the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad "reaffirmed his country's support for the implementation of Resolution 1701 and agrees that we should do everything to strengthen the territorial integrity of Lebanon".

Iran is considered to be the largest arms and funds supplier of the Hezbollah militia, although the Iranian leadership officially maintains that it supports the Shiite militia only "spiritually".

On the nuclear issue, Annan told journalists that "the president again reaffirmed to me Iran's preparedness and determination to negotiate a solution", but "he did not accept suspension before negotiations".

In June, the five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the "5 + 1") offered Iran a package of economic and diplomatic incentives to limit its nuclear program. Iran responded only on 22 August, refusing to stop its nuclear program but saying it was open to dialogue. Teheran's delay in replying led the UN Security Council to approve a resolution on 31 July, ordering that enrichment processes be halted by 31 August.

Another failure of Annan's visit centred round the Holocaust. In a provocative move on the final day of the UN Secretary's visit, Iran announced the launch of a conference to examine "exaggerations" about the Holocaust. Ahmadinejiad has often accused Israel of falsifying history and of exaggerating the Holocaust's death toll among Jews, said to amount to six million. The announcement about the conference came as Teheran holds an exhibition that pokes fun at the Holocaust.  

Annan said: "I think the tragedy of the Holocaust is an undeniable historical fact and we should really accept that fact and teach people what happened in World War II and ensure it is never repeated."

Annan said this after a meeting with President Ahmadinejad who however did not accompany the UN Secretary to the news conference.

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UN insists Hezbollah disarm, Hezbollah attacks Siniora government
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Counter Tehran Conference on the Holocaust in Bali


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