Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati on Friday charged that Iraq has violated the cease-fire in the Persian Gulf war more than 60 times since it took effect two weeks ago.
Velayati also said Iraq was raising new conditions every day to block progress in peace talks aimed at ending the eight-year conflict.In Tehran, Iran's commander in chief accused Iraq of trying to rekindle the war by claiming the disputed Shatt-al-Arab waterway, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The commander, Hashemi Rafsanjani, made the remarks during a prayer sermon Friday at Tehran University.
Velayati spoke to reporters as he left the U.N. building after meeting with Jan Eliasson, a Swedish diplomat who is the new U.N. special representative for the talks. Shortly afterward, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz also met Eliasson to brief him on Iraq's position at the talks.
Iraq is prepared to continue working "sincerely and seriously" toward full agreement on implementing the U.N. cease-fire resolution that forms the basis of the negotiations, Aziz told reporters.
He did not comment on Velayati's allegations.
Both sides have traded charges of cease-fire violations. But U.N. observers monitoring the truce did not report any serious violations by either side, only "minor problems" that were resolved.
"After the establishment of the cease-fire, Iraq has had more than 60 kinds of violations of the terms of the cease-fire," Velayati said. "We have some difficulties because day-by-day they raise some new preconditions."
The two 90-minute meetings were Eliasson's first talks with Velayati and Aziz on substantial issues. Eliasson was formally introduced to them by U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar after Eliasson's appointment Thursday.
The two ministers have not met face-to-face since Aug. 26, when the talks stalled. Negotiations have continued at a lower, technical level since.
Perez de Cuellar, who had mediated the talks since they began Aug. 25, left Geneva on Thursday because of other commitments. He said he was frustrated by the slow pace of the talks but that he was trying to end the stalemate. He said he would return to Geneva if necessary.