Expatica news

Michel flies to Tehran to plead for embassy girls

15 March 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel on Monday flew to Iran in a fresh bid to secure the safe return home of two young Liege girls currently taking refuge inside the Belgian embassy in Tehran.

Foreign ministry officials on Monday morning confirmed to Expatica that Michel had left for a two-day visit to Tehran at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazai.

Ministry sources say the two men will discuss the case of the two Belgian girls, Sara and Yasmine Pourashemi, during Michel’s trip.

The girls were kidnapped by their father and taken to Iran last August after a holiday in Greece.

But in December they escaped to the Belgian embassy where they have been seeking refuge ever since.

In Belgium, the girls’ mother has legal custody of the girls and after the kidnap a Liege judge issued an international warrant calling for the father’s arrest.

But under Iranian law the girls’ father is their legal guardian, a situation that has led to the current diplomatic stand-off.

Both Michel and Kharazai have said repeatedly that want to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem, but as yet they have been unable to do so.

Michel will also discuss several other topics during his visit to Iran, including Tehran’s nuclear programme, EU-Iranian relations and the situation in the Middle East.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news