Iran to present Mideast 'peace plan'

Calls for return of Palestinian refugees and referendum on region's future.

iran fm 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
iran fm 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Barely a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared Monday that his government was planning to propose to the United Nations a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Mottaki, the proposal was to be based on the ideas of Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Khameini said last week that the solution to the conflict involved, "a national referendum in which all true Palestinians would participate, whether they are Muslims, Jews or Christians, including Palestinian refugees throughout the world," on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Mottaki's statement followed the cancellation of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's planned trip to Iran. Annan cited the "ongoing controversy" over Ahmadinejad's remarks last week as his reason for cancellation; however, Iran's official news agency reported that Iran itself requested that Annan postpone his trip. The Iranian president's comments were internationally condemned, and UN ambassadors from both Israel and the United States immediately urged Annan to cancel his trip. On Saturday 1,800 people in Los Angeles demonstrated against Ahmadinejad's comments, many of them holding US and Israeli flags or signs that read, "Free Iran." Meanwhile, As Europeans mulled an Iranian offer to resume negotiations, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said Monday his inspectors were making progress in their drive to probe the country's nuclear weapons intentions. "We are moving in the right direction." Mohamed El-Baradei, winner of this year's Nobel peace prize, said at a conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. However, he said his inspectors were eager to take a look at the Lavizan facility, where Iran conducts high-explosive tests that could have a bearing on developing weapons. But, overall, he said, "we are making good progress with Iran."