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Tuesday, 30 September 1997
Page: 8840

(Question No. 2116)


Mr Filing asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 25 August, 1997:

(1) Did DFAT recently distribute a publication entitled Guidelines on Official Australian Contact with Representatives of Foreign States, Political Entities or Organisations where Special Considerations are Involved, dated May 1997?

(2) Is Mr Downer able to say whether (a)Iran has long occupied a position on the US list of nations responsible for state sponsored terrorism, (b) the Iranian regime was found guilty in April by a German court of sponsoring terrorism there, (c) the act of terrorism was conducted despite Germany enjoying a close diplomatic and trading relationship with Iran, (d) the European Union has acted to condemn Iran for ongoing terrorism and acted to restrict access of Iranian diplomats in Europe, and (e) the UN has documented and condemned the Iranian Government for a long list of continuing state sponsored human rights abuses at home, including against those of the Baha'i faith.

(3) Is the Islamic Republic of Iran covered by the guidelines; if not, why not.

(4) Will Mr Downer ensure that the desire to keep Australia's trade levels with Iran do not reduce the public safety of persons in Australia who may be at threat from a regime which considers terrorism a legitimate arm of foreign policy.


Mr Downer —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) (a) I understand that Iran is on a US list of nations responsible for state-sponsored terrorism.

(b) The April, 1997 "Mykonos" verdict, issued by the German Supreme Court, was the first time that a court of law drew an explicit connection between a terrorist act and the Iranian Government. The verdict implicated "the highest levels" of the Iranian Government in the 1992 assassination of Kurdish opposition leaders in Berlin.

(c) At the time of the "Mykonos" killings, Germany and Iran had diplomatic and commercial relations. Following the German Supreme Court verdict, Germany withdrew its Ambassador to Iran. Germany is yet to return its Ambassador to Iran but relations are maintained at less-than-Ambassadorial level.

(d) In response to the verdict the EU Presidency announced that member states would:

-   cooperate to ensure that visas are not granted to Iranians with intelligence and security functions; and

-   exclude Iranian intelligence personnel from EU member states.

(e) The UN has documented and condemned the Iranian Government for human rights abuses, including against members of the Baha'i faith. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has called on Iran to resume its cooperation with the Commission, to abide by its obligations under the international human rights instruments and to implement fully the recommendations of the Special Representative and the Special Rapporteurs on religious intolerance and on freedom of opinion and expression.

(3) The Guidelines do not cover Iran. They encompass those organisations and entities which Australia and most of the international community do not recognise as states; organisations and entities with which Australia and most of the international community restrict official contact; and organisations and entities where there may be confusion about the appropriateness or otherwise of official contact. Iran is in none of these categories. Australia, along with over eighty other countries, maintains full diplomatic relations with Iran.

(4) Australia's trade with Iran does not compromise our ability to protect public safety in Australia. Australia of course unequivocally and consistently condemns all acts of terrorism.