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Europeans say human rights on agenda with Iran

European officials say that it should be possible to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran without neglecting its human rights abuses.
Martin Schulz (C), President of the European Parliament, delivers a speech in front of two empty chairs during the Sakharov Prize ceremony awarded in Strasbourg, December 12, 2012. The European Union's prize for human rights and freedom of thought was awarded to two Iranians, imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, 49, and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, 52, who have both been cut off from the outside world for defying the country's leadership.   REUTERS/Jean-Marc Loos (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3BHIV

While the world’s attention is focused on Iran’s nuclear program, the European Union and European Parliament have broadened the agenda to include Iran’s poor record on human rights in a way that has spurred new debate within the Islamic Republic.

Marietje Schaake, member of a small European Parliament delegation that visited Iran late last year, told an audience at the Atlantic Council earlier this week that the group made clear to Iranian officials that “human rights for the European Union is a priority and should remain a priority” without jeopardizing ongoing negotiations to achieve a long-term nuclear agreement with Iran. “There is not some zero sum equation between focusing only on the nuclear issue and forgetting about the plight of the Iranian people who live under systematic repression,” she said.

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