Iraq Outlines Demands as Peace Talks Resume in Geneva
IRAQI officials are not optimistic that UN-sponsored negotiations with Iran, scheduled to resume tomorrow in Geneva, will bring a peace accord any closer. Iraq's deputy foreign minister, Nizar Hamdoon, says he doesn't believe that Tehran has decided to make full peace.Skip to next paragraph
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``With the internal divisions in Iran, nobody is in real charge of peace and war - and [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini is not in the mood to make peace with Iraq,'' Mr. Hamdoon says. He even expresses doubt about the negotiating authority of Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's foreign minister. Mr. Velayati has headed the Iranian delegation in the three formal rounds of talks held since last Aug. 25.
The purpose of the talks is to implement all the provisions of UN cease-fire resolution 598. The talks have stalled over the issues of repatriation of prisoners of war, sovereignty over the Shatt al Arab and freedom of navigation in the Gulf and in the Strait of Hormuz.
Hamdoon indicates that only when Iran signs a cease-fire document will Iraq withdraw from the 380 square miles of Iranian territory it still holds. He describes this territory as a strip running from north to south all along the frontier at a depth of one-half to three miles. ``This is all very close to our border ... and it is peanuts compared to the 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of Iranian territory we were holding last year.''
The cease-fire document need only be a limited agreement, he says. But it should include the right to free navigation - specifically, no Iranian searches of Iraqi ships for belligerent cargo, Hamdoon says.
``It is not fair for Iran to keep this right while Iraq refrains from attacking ships in the Gulf with our powerful air force,'' he says. Although no accord guaranteeing free navigation has been signed, Iran has not searched any ships since the cease-fire began Aug. 20.
The final peace treaty should be ``comprehensive and give Iran and Iraq what they have historically had in terms of territory and sovereignty,'' says Hamdoon, a former ambassador to Washington. He suggests that there be a new agreement over the Shatt al Arab and strong guarantees of non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
Regarding the Shatt, Hamdoon says the issue is sovereignty over the waterway, not its utilization. ``We're not against their using their ports of Abadan and Khorramshahr ... for they are closer to Tehran (than their ports in the Gulf) and more feasible for their imports.''
Iraqi sovereignty over the entire Shatt al Arab (except, he hints, outside Abadan and Khorramshahr to the thalweg line) would stop Iran from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.
If Iraq agreed to split sovereignty, as it did under the 1975 Algiers accord, then, he says, ``Iran could at any point in the future question our irrigation plans for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as they did under the Shah. This would only be the recipe for another war.''