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Iran Tries to Undo Its Warm Welcome of Ceausescu

December 27, 1989 GMT

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iran recognized Romania’s new government Tuesday and lawmakers demanded to know why Nicolae Ceausescu was warmly welcomed to the Tehran just days before he was deposed and executed, Iranian media reported.

Tehran Radio, monitored in Nicosia, said the Foreign Ministry announced recognition of the provisional government in Bucharest.

″Iran’s Foreign Ministry is certain that the two nations’ ties will continue, and that after the establishment of the popular government in Romania, these relations will expand,″ the statement said.

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The ministry also informed the Romanian ambassador in Tehran that Iran’s Red Crescent Society, the Moslem equivalent of the Red Cross, is ready to send medical aid to Bucharest to help people wounded in the fighting that toppled Ceausescu, the radio reported.

The Islamic Republic News Agency, monitored in Nicosia, said the Majlis, or parliament, summoned Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati to explain Ceausescu’s official visit to Tehran from Dec. 18-20.

Ceausescu was deposed by a popular uprising on Friday. He and his wife, Elena, were executed Monday after they were found guilty during a secret military trial of genocide and other ″grave crimes″ during his 24-year rule.

Ceausescu left for Iran in the midst of huge protests against his rule. His security forces fired on demonstrators, reportedly killing thousands. On Friday, the army turned against him, and Ceausescu was forced to flee his palace.

The Islamic Republic News Agency said the issue of Ceausescu’s visit was ″snowballing as the biggest goof of the Iranian Foreign Ministry.″

The government appears increasingly embarrassed by its embrace of Ceausescu, who also had close ties with China. China on Tuesday, seeking to avoid any comparisons to its own crackdown on protesters in June, succeeded in blocking debate on Romania by the U.N. Security Council in New York.

The Iranian news agency said 45 deputies in the 270-seat Majlis demanded that Velayati appear.

The Majlis Foreign Relations Committee, which met with Velayati a day earlier, said Tuesday that his answers to their questions ″were not satisfactory enough.″

No details of the exchange were provided, but the Majlis and Velayati sit in opposing political camps in Iran. The Majlis is dominated by hard-liners of the Islamic revolution opposed to opening Iran to foreign investment and other pragmatic measures that Velayati supports.

IRNA said in an earlier report that Velayati ordered Iran’s ambassador to Bucharest, Mohammad Jamshid Gowhari, be fired.

IRNA said the dismissal ″was due to Gowhari’s failure to furnish the foreign ministry with a comprehensive report on the internal situation in Romania″ before Ceausescu’s visit.

Gowhari was dismissed only three months before he was due to return to Tehran, IRNA reported.

Ceausescu was given a red carpet welcome in Tehran. Romania was Iran’s second-biggest trading partner in Eastern Europe and during Ceausescu’s visit he signed an agreement to buy 1 million barrels of oil and 1 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

He met President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who termed Ceausescu’s visit ″successful″ and noted that the grounds for economic cooperation were ″completely fertile.″

After Ceausescu left and reports from Romania illustrated the brutality of his regime, Iranian newspapers demanded an official explanation why the Romanian leader had been allowed to visit Tehran.

Velayati responded Sunday by saying the visit had been arranged after frequent requests from Bucharest. But he stressed that Iranian leaders repeatedly advised Ceausescu to ″bow to his people’s demands″ while he was in Tehran.

Iran also has denied European reports that Iranians were fighting alongside Ceausescu’s security police against rebel forces and that Ceausescu had stashed a fortune in gold in Tehran banks.

During Ceausescu’s visit, IRNA praised Romania as ″the sole East European country rigidly adhering to its past government,″ a reference to the reform movements that have changed Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and East Germany.

Iran’s state-run television network lauded Ceausescu while he was in Tehran. This week, it broadcast commentaries criticizing his rule.

IRNA claimed Tuesday that Ceausescu ″received a cold welcome″ and said that Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ″called off a scheduled meeting with him.″

The agency also said that while Ceausescu was in Tehran, ″protests were made″ in the Iranian parliament about the visit. None of the reported protests were mentioned by Iran’s state-controlled media while Ceausescu was in Tehran.