Koenders envisages role for Iran in restoring stability to region

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders is convinced that Iran can help solve the conflicts in Syria and other countries in the region. ‘Iran is an important player. The Netherlands would like to see it play a constructive role in countries like Syria and Yemen.’ Koenders was speaking on Sunday during a visit to the Iranian capital Tehran, where he and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed the urgent situation in Syria and other matters.

Koenders also met the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, and congratulated him on the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.

‘The agreement provides a basis for improving relations between Iran and the international community,’ Koenders said, ‘but it is only a start. Iran must implement all the agreements fully and on time to show that it is a reliable partner.’

Koenders believes better relations between Iran and the West signal opportunities for the use of regional and international diplomacy to find solutions to the major problems facing the region. ‘I have asked Iran to use its influence over certain parties to achieve a political solution to conflicts in the region,’ he said.

Broader and closer relations with Iran will also provide more opportunities to discuss difficult issues like human rights, Koenders believes. During his visit he made clear the Netherlands’ concerns about the situation and raised the issue of the many executions Iran carries out. ‘The Netherlands campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty throughout the world. I conveyed our position to the Iranian authorities.’

As part of the revived relationship with Iran, the Netherlands also hopes to restore economic and trade relations. If Iran complies with the nuclear agreement, the current international sanctions will gradually be relaxed. ‘That will mean interesting prospects for Dutch companies to trade with Iranian companies,’ said Koenders.

Ministry responsible