U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar Wednesday named Sweden's U.N. ambassador as his special representative to the faltering Iran-Iraq peace talks to continue negotiations in his absence.
Perez de Cuellar announced his selection of Jan Eliasson, 47, shortly before departing for Lisbon with the 8-day-old talks deadlocked.The Iraqi and Iranian foreign ministers have not met face-to-face since last Friday because of problems over formalizing the cease-fire and agreeing on early troop withdrawal and freedom of navigation. Negotiations have continued on a lower, technical level.
In the hour before his departure the U.N. chief held separate meetings with the two ministers, Tariq Aziz of Iraq and Ali Akbar Velayati of Iran, to introduce them to Eliasson.
Velayati later told reporters he was very pleased with the appointment of Eliasson and was "glad the secretary-general will continue his supervision and guidance of the talks."
Perez de Cuellar said he was prepared to return to Geneva on Friday if necessary to continue negotiations in person.
"These are very difficult, complicated negotiations and it takes time," the secretary-general said as he continued last-minute efforts to arrange a joint meeting of the two ministers. "The problem is lack of confidece, distrust ... like sand, you cannot build on sand."