Foreign Minister: Iran can be a major player in Middle East stability

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Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs is convinced that Iran can make a large contribution to solutions for the conflicts in Syria and other countries in the region. He said this on Sunday in the Iranian capital Tehran, where he is meeting with his counterpart  Mohammad Javad Zarif, among others.

"Iran is a major player. The Netherlands would like to see the country play a major role in countries such as and Yemen", Koenders said after his meeting with Zarif. According to Koenders, a better relationship between Iran and the West offers opportunities to find solutions through regional and international diplomacy for the major issues facing the region.  "I have asked Iran to use its influence on parties for the necessary political solutions for conflicts in the region."

Koenders also said that stronger relations gives more opportunities to discuss difficult topics such as human rights. During his visit the Minister clearly raised the Netherlands' concern about the high number of executions. "The Netherlands is fighting hard worldwide for the abolition of the death penalty. That view I also conveyed to my Iranian interlocutors."

The Minister also spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and congratulated him on the international agreement on Iran's nuclear program. "The agreement is a basis to improve the relationship between Iran and the international community", Koenders said. Part of Koenders' visit is to restore economic and trade relations between Iran and the Netherlands. If Iran fulfills the commitments made in the nuclear agreement, the existing international sanctions against the country can be gradually alleviated.