Iranian minister eschews un-Islamic dress at Sharm al-Sheikh

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minsister of Iran, did not attend a dinner at Sharm el-Sheikh because the red dress of a Ukrainian violinist did not meet the "Islamic standards." According to Mottaki, "There was something wrong with that so I offered my apologies. There was no other reason."

The planned discussion of Condoleezza Rice and Mottaki would have been the highest-level formal talks of U.S. and Iranian officials. It was intended to enable the foreign ministers to thrash out ways to curb the security problems in Iraq.

Rice told reporters, "We are prepared to change 27 years of policy," concerning Iran.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack explained the issue in term of intimidation when he said, "I don't know which woman he was afraid of, the woman in the red dress or the secretary of state."

In lieu of a longer substantive discussion, there was a 3-minute exchange of pleasantries between Rice and Mottaki at the end. However, Rice did have a complete discussion with Walid Moallem, the foreign minister of Syria, to alleviate Iraq's security problems.

Later, Mottaki stated that Iran believes that the presence of American troops is the source of instability and called for the withdrawal of American troops. He said, "The U.S. must issue a clear troop-withdrawal plan so that peace and stability can be restored."

According to Mottaki,

The terrorists claim that they are fighting the forces of occupation, while the occupiers justify their presence under the pretext of the war on terror. Therefore, this axis of occupation-terrorism is the root of all problems in Iraq.