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European Parliament team to visit Iran October 27

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(BRUSSELS) - A European Parliament delegation is to pay an official visit to Iran from October 27 to November 2 despite opposition within the assembly and a just-agreed package of tough EU sanctions against Tehran.

A parliament official who asked not to be named said Thursday that nine MEPs from all bar one of the parliamentary groups -- the eurosceptic right-wing alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists -- would take part in the visit, originally agreed in July.

The team will be headed by the president of the European Parliament-Iran group, Finland Greens MEP Tarja Cronberg.

The official said there was a "sharp" discussion earlier Thursday on whether to go ahead with the visit but that leaders of the parliament's political groups finally had voted in favour.

During the last such visit in 2007, there was a public execution on the day of the team's arrival, said Scotland conservative MEP Struan Stevenson.

The European Union on Monday imposed a tough package of sanctions against Iran in hopes of securing progress in global talks with Tehran on its contested nuclear programme.

Both the parliament and the bloc are also constant critics of the country's human rights record.

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