Dutch foreign minister defends actions in Bahrami case
Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has defended measures taken by the government against Iran, following the unexpected execution of Zahra Bahrami at the weekend.
He says freezing contact is a far-reaching measure in diplomatic relations. However, he says recalling the Dutch ambassador from Tehran would be counter-productive as there are still Dutch nationals in Iranian prisons and Ms Bahrami's family needs assistance at the highest level.
The minister, who is attending a European Union meeting in Brussels, also dismissed criticism that not enough was done to put pressure on the Iranian authorities to save her life.
Minister Rosenthal has delayed a trip to Turkey to answer questions in parliament on the matter. The Freedom Party has called for the Iranian ambassador in The Hague to be expelled.
In Brussels the minister sought support from other EU countries for measures. A number of countries are in favour of tightening sanctions. Minister Rosenthal wants to extend a visa ban to included members of the judiciary.
The minister warned that what happened to Zahra Bahrami can happen to other Iranians with dual nationality in prison in Iran and called for a unified approach. Human rights organisations fear for the life of Canadian permanent resident Saeed Malepour who is also on death row.
Mr Rosenthal said his colleagues were "upset" by the turn of events and praised the quick reaction of EU foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who strongly condemned the execution on Monday. Baroness Aston said Zahra Bahrami's trial was not fair or transparent, nor was she allowed diplomatic assistance. She also called for an end to executions in Iran which are currently being carried out at an alarming rate.
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