1- Iran President Blasts German Court Verdict 2- Germany Keeps Low Profile on Iran 3- Iranian Police Erect Barrier at German Embassy 4- Canada recalls ambassador to Iran 5- NYMEX crude ends off, worry over EU-Iran row fades 6- Yeltsin: Relations with Iran good
1- Iran President Blasts German Court Verdict
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Reuter) - Islamist protesters marched on the German embassy in Tehran Friday as European countries summoned home their envoys in a deepening feud over a German court ruling that Iran had ordered political murders.
Iran's president said the court verdict Thursday that top Iranian political and religious leaders ordered the 1992 killings of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin was a passing storm provoked by the United States and Israel.
"They (U.S. and Israel) needed such a propaganda wave," President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a Shi'ite Muslim cleric, told thousands of worshippers gathered at Tehran University campus for Friday prayers.
"We should expect them to keep up the noise in the West. But this will bring them nothing. It is like a thunderstorm that brings clear weather in its wake."
After prayers, 3,000 hard-line demonstrators marched two and a half miles to the German embassy in central Tehran. Many pelted it with tomatoes and a few threw stones but stopped after police warnings, witnesses said.
European Union (EU) members, with the exception of Greece, recalled their envoys in Iran for consultations over the court verdict.
But Greece expressed its reservations over the EU's appeal to member states to withdraw their envoys, saying it opposed terrorism and the use of violence but isolating a country was not the best way to bring it into the international community.
The court's ruling that the murder of the four dissidents was ordered by a special operations committee whose members included Iran's president and its religious leader forced the EU to abandon its controversial "critical dialogue" in a move which delighted the United States.
"We felt that the court decision was quite significant in confirming our long-held belief that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism," White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Friday.
"The European Union and the German government responded appropriately... We'll continue our very close consultations with our European allies about the activities that we deem reprehensible by the government of Iran."
The German Foreign Ministry thanked its EU partners for their solidarity and France warned Tehran to avoid any violent backlash against German of European interests.
"France's solidarity with Germany is total in this matter," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Norway, which severed relations with Tehran almost two years ago and is not an EU member, called on the EU to consider imposing trade sanctions on Iran.
New Zealand also recalled its ambassador but Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his political opponents joined forces in courting Iran despite the court ruling.
Yeltsin told visiting Iranian parliament chief Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri he wanted "to strengthen and develop" bilateral ties, and the head of the lower house of parliament said the Berlin court had no right to take a whole country to trial.
"We have good, positive co-operation with Iran, which shows a tendency to grow," a smiling Yeltsin said.
Russia has been seeking to diversify its foreign policy partners at a time when the West is going ahead with plans to expand NATO into eastern Europe despite its protests.
In Tehran the demonstrators chanted "This is the second den of spies", likening the German embassy to the U.S embassy which was seized by radical Islamic students in 1979.
Witnesses said many carried pictures of Iran's late spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as they chanted "Death to Germany," "Fascist Germany, servant of Zionism," "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
They rushed a line of riot police behind barriers but were pushed back. In a resolution, they demanded Germany apologize by Tuesday for what they called an affront to Iran and the Islamic world and urged Tehran to sever ties if Bonn refused.
"This (verdict) is a historic disgrace for the German judiciary and claims that Germany's legal system is independent are now totally in question," Rafsanjani said in his Friday sermon.
"Not only were they (the court) not independent from their own government, but they were even dependent on foreigners. We have no doubt that American and Israeli agents have had a finger in this."
Germany has withdrawn its ambassador from Tehran and asked four Iranian diplomatic staff to leave the embassy in Bonn. Iran also recalled its ambassador and expelled four German diplomats.
2- Germany Keeps Low Profile on Iran
BONN, Germany (Reuter) - Germany, anxious not to endanger its citizens in Iran, on Friday declined all further comment on ties with Tehran a day after they were plunged into crisis by a court verdict that Iran ordered the murder of four dissidents.
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel doggedly pursued a policy of not commenting publicly on Germany's decision to expel four Iranian diplomats and the European Union's move to recall ambassadors and break off "critical dialogue" with Iran.
"I don't want to say anything -- for good reasons, in such a charged situation," Kinkel said when faced with a deluge of reporters' questions about Iran during a photo opportunity with visiting Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski.
"We have responsibilty for the 530 Germans living in Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Erdmann said. "It's not in our interests to pour oil on to the fire in the current situation."
Germany's concerns were illustrated just hours after Erdmann spoke, when witnesses in Tehran said hundreds of Iranians had marched on the German embassy and many pelted the building with tomatoes in protest at the verdict.
The demonstrators, who had marched four km (2.5 miles) to the compound from Friday's mass prayers at Tehran University, charged a line of riot police behind barricades at the embassy, but were pushed back, the witnesses said.
Germany, wary of reprisals, has advised its citizens not to travel to Iran.
When a German state prosecutor accused Iran last year of ordering the 1992 killings, an angry mob marched on Germany's Tehran embassy, hurling eggs and stones and calling for his death.
Tehran assured Germany before Thursday's verdict that its citizens and property in Iran would be safe.
"We're taking the Iranian leadership at its word on this matter and we've no reason to doubt it up until now," Erdmann told reporters. "We don't want to give any reason to change that situation."
Iran has condemned the verdict and denied it is involved in terrorism. It has ordered four German diplomats out of the country and recalled its ambassador in Bonn for consultations.
In a statement on Thursday, Kinkel's ministry said the verdict portrayed a "flagrant violation of international law." But it also said it hoped the situation would not escalate.
The verdict marked the first time a European court had clearly attributed political responsibility for any of the dozens of assassinations of Iranian opposition figures abroad since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Presiding judge Frithjof Kubsch said in his ruling that the assassination of four Kurdish Iranian leaders in 1992 was ordered by a secret special operations committee whose members included Iran's president, its religious leader, intelligence minister and the head of foreign policy.
Kubsch stopped short of explicitly naming Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom prosecutors had accused of ultimate responsibility for the attack in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant.
Of the Iranian leaders, Kubsch mentioned only one by name -- Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahiyan.
Fallahiyan, who had asked Bonn to put off the trial when he was received here just before it opened, is now being sought on an arrest warrant for allegedly masterminding the murders.
Germany has been a staunch advocate of "critical dialogue," a policy which means maintaining good relations and trade ties with Iran while also engaging in dialogue over human rights.
The policy is viewed with suspicion in Washington. The U.S. government favours a strategy of completely isolating Iran, which it accuses of sponsoring international terrorism.
3- Iranian Police Erect Barrier at German Embassy
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (Reuter) - Iranian police on Friday erected barriers along the outside walls of Germany's embassy in central Tehran a day after a Berlin court accused Iran of ordering the murders of dissidents in Germany, witnesses said.
Witnesses said police appeared to have built the barricade in anticipation that thousands of worshippers attending the Friday prayers at Tehran University might march the 2.5 miles across the capital to the embassy to protest against the ruling.
Dozens of police in riot gear were positioned between the barricades and the embassy, witnesses said.
The Berlin court on Thursday said Iran's political leadership ordered the killings of four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant in 1992.
It avoided names but said the assassinations were ordered by a secret special operations committee whose members included Iran's president, religious leader, intelligence minister and head of foreign policy.
Iran has repeatedly denied all responsibility for the killings, which it blames on infighting among groups opposed to the Tehran government.
The ruling has sparked an international diplomatic row, with Germany, Sweden and Australia recalling their ambassadors from Iran and the EU inviting other members to join the action.
Tehran also withdrew its envoy from Bonn and expelled four German diplomats after Germany asked four Iranian diplomatic staff to leave.
Germany has been Iran's largest trading partner and most important Western friend.
4- Canada recalls ambassador to Iran
OTTAWA, April 11 (UPI) _ The Canadian government says it has recalled its ambassador in Tehran after a German court ruled that the Iranian government was involved in the murder of four Kurdish dissidents in Germany in 1992.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy says (Friday) Ottawa is consulting with its allies in the European Union and partners in the Group of Seven industrialized countries regarding the ruling.
Ottawa's reaction comes a day after a German judged ruled that Iranian agents acted on orders from the president, spiritual leader and head of intelligence of the Islamic Republic when they killed the Kurdish dissidents.
Judge Fritjhof Kubsch sentenced two Iranian agents to life imprisonment and another two to several years in prison for murdering Kurdish dissident Sadegh Charfkand and three of his aides in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in 1992.
Axworthy says ``It is not acceptable that Iran or any other country attack an opponent on foreign soil.''
He says the German court's verdict ``is being carefully reviewed by the Canadian government.''
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa says the Canadian ambassador to Iran has been recalled for consultations ``to help assess the implications of the verdict.''
5- NYMEX crude ends off, worry over EU-Iran row fades
NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuter) - NYMEX crude ended slightly lower Friday as an early boost from diplomatic tensions between European Union (EU) countries and Iran faded late session since the row had no immediate impact on supply, traders said.
"I think the feeling is that if it were that serious, the EU would impose sanctions, but they haven't. In any case, a situation like that would affect Brent more, and Brent failed to hold gains too," said Michael Busby, trader with Northville Industries in Melville, New York.
May crude settled four cents a barrel lower at $19.53.
On London's IPE, May Brent ended five cents lower at $17.86 a barrel. Dealers also noted the options expiry in May crude Friday had little impact on the contract, with most of the open interest in the $20.00 strike.
Dealers said spot crude's May/June contango has failed to significantly narrow leaving it vulnerable to the downside. Contango means the nearby contract is cheaper than the later one.
May gasoline ended off 0.19 cent a gallon at 60.88 cents while May heating oil ended off 0.99 cent at 53.87 cents a gallon.
Crude and gasoline succumbed to heating oil's downdraft despite European diplomatic tensions with Iran, an OPEC member which is the third largest oil exporter in the world.
On Thursday, a German court ruling implicated Tehran in the killing of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. Following the verdict, Iran ordered four German diplomats out of the country and recalled its ambassador in Bonn for consultations.
EU countries, with the exception of Greece, recalled their own envoys from Iran for consultations amid the diplomatic row.
Traders were concerned that if tensions escalate the EU could impose sanctions against Iranian oil imports.
But, European oil companies including France's Total and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell said their investments in Iran would not be deterred due to the diplomatic tensions.
"The news does not change the fact that there is still plenty of crude supply in the Atlantic basin," said Northville's Busby.
Crude has lost more than $7.00 a barrel since early January due to burgeoning imports. As of April 4, crude stocks were 10.5 million barrels above a year ago in the U.S. Gulf where refinery demand is concentrated, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
6- Yeltsin: Relations with Iran good
MOSCOW, April 11 (UPI) _ Russian President Boris Yeltsin says (Friday) Russia has good relations with Iran, and expects them to ``strengthen and develop further.''
Yeltsin, who held talks at the Kremlin with Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the head of Iran's parliament, made the statement as European Union nations recalled their ambassadors from Tehran following a court ruling in Germany that Iranian leaders ordered assassinations of opposition figures.
Nateq-Nouri also met the Speaker of the Duma, Gennady Seleznyov (``ghen-NAD'-hee seh-leh-ZNYAWF'''), a communist who is usually in opposition to Yeltsin. Seleznyov told reporters that the Duma supports the government's foreign policy position on promoting ties with Iran, and said the German court ruling had no effect on Russian-Iranian relations.
Nateq-Nouri told a news conference Russia and Iran will coordinate their foreign policies to ``oppose expansion by Western nations in Europe and the Middle East,'' indicating support for Moscow's anti-NATO stance.
The Iranian official received a one-minute standing ovation in the Duma.
Trade between the two nations has noticeably improved in the past few months. Russia is building a nuclear power plant in Iran which the United States fears may lead to iran obtaining nuclear technology.
It is also Iran's largest arms provider. A multi-million joint aircraft manufacturing deal is expected to be signed any day now between the Tupolev Co. and Iran.