Iran seeks comprehensive nuclear deal
An Iranian deputy foreign minister has expressed hope that Tehran and six world powers would reach a final nuclear deal, saying Iran is looking for a ‘comprehensive’ agreement.
“Our objective in the ongoing talks is to secure a comprehensive agreement,” Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi, said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television, IRNA reported.
“Our stance in the talks is based on the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights, which are not negotiable,” he said.
Araqchi, who is a top Iranian nuclear negotiator, said major differences still remain between Iran and the six powers despite progress in some sectors.
He said reaching a final deal ahead of November 24 deadline will not be difficult, adding, “We are planning for a fresh round of talks with the P5+1 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in late September. Until then, we will continue mutual meetings with most members of this group.”
The European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said on Saturday, “We will use the opportunity of the General Assembly in New York to also do that (talks).”
Today, Ashton and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are due to meet in Brussels.
“There are ongoing discussions on that (Iran nuclear energy issue),” said Ashton, who is expected to continue to lead nuclear negotiations with Iran even though she leaves her EU position at the end of October.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China—plus Germany are in talks to reach a final agreement aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran’s civilian nuclear work.
The two sides signed a historic interim deal in Geneva last November. The agreement entered into force on January 20 and expired six months later. In July, Tehran and the six states agreed to extend their discussions until November 24 in a bid to work out a final accord.
Officials seek foreign investments
Domestic Economy Desk
The Iranian government should use all capacities and mechanisms to attract more foreign investments, said the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPOI).
Speaking on the sidelines of Iran-Venezuela Commission Meeting in Tehran, Valiollah Afkhami Rad added that the short cut to increase production capacity is attraction of more foreign investments.
The Iranian government has prepared incentive packages to boost attraction of foreign investment.
He added that by injecting new monetary resources into the country’s economy and increasing production capacity, non-oil exports will grow.
Afkhami noted that the current administration offers facilities, including tax exemption and easy visa issuance, to foreign investors willing to make investment in free trade zones.
“Making investment in Iran is a profitable and easy process. Iran boasts of rich natural resources, diverse climate, abundant workforce, favorable geographical condition and proximity to Central Asian countries and Persian Gulf littoral states, which make it a suitable and attractive place for foreign investors,” he said.
Afkhami said the government has approved another project in which foreign investors will be granted 50-percent tax exemption, if they establish plants in the country and export 30 percent of their output.
“European countries are keen on expanding cooperation with Iran. The construction of foreign factories in the country will help transfer technology, create a healthy competitive atmosphere in the domestic market, enhance production capacity, improve the quality of domestic products and boost exports,” he said.
Mohammad Khazaei, director general of the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran, said OIETAI is ready to support all foreign investors.
Speaking in a meeting with the managers of a big Brazilian company, which produces 90 percent of the country’s agro and meat products, said Iran has a strategic status in the Middle East.
He listed some of Iran’s advantages for making investment as having favorable transportation infrastructures and main roads linking regional countries, enjoying high workforce potential, possessing natural resources and producing diverse agro products.
Last month, a number of the officials of some European countries met with Khazaei. These meetings indicate the beginning of a new era in Iran’s economy and the country’s ability to attract foreign investments.
In January, Deputy Economy Minister Behrouz Alishiri underlined the upward trend of foreign investment in Iran, despite the US-led unilateral sanctions against the country.
“The negative effects on (the economies of) countries that imposed sanctions have been much greater than on Iran and we have learnt big lessons from the sanctions, including ending oil dependency as has been required by the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2010-15),” he said.
EU ties with Iran to benefit entire world
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said on Sunday normalization of ties between Tehran and the European Union will not only benefit the two sides but the entire world.
He made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran, IRNA reported.
Tuomioja, who arrived on Saturday night, said his visit to Iran is a good beginning for improving the ties.
He described Iran-Finland relations as deep-rooted because of several common interests and hoped the atmosphere is ripe for expanding mutual relations.
The two ministers also discussed a number of issues including Iran’s nuclear program, radicalism and ongoing crisis in Iraq.
Foreign Minister Zarif said new sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran in some cases violate the agreement between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1, adding that the measures are unconstructive and against the spirit of the Geneva agreement.
He said Tehran believes that such measures would make it more difficult to reach a final comprehensive deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China—plus Germany.
The Finnish foreign minister, for his part, hoped that all obstacles to a comprehensive nuclear deal will be removed.
On Friday, Washington imposed sanctions on over 25 individuals and companies, including shipping firms, oil companies, airlines and six banks over alleged links with Iran.
At the press conference, Tuomioja also referred to the threat posed by the ISIL terrorist group, which has been committing violent crimes in Iraq and Syria in recent months, and warned against the rising threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for the Middle East and the entire world. He called for confronting the group internationally.
Expressing sorrow over the extensive killings of people by ISIL terrorists, he said all countries, including Iran, need to cooperate with the EU to confront the terrorist group.
“We support the Iraqi government’s demand to fight against the ISIL and we should support the political and economic processes that restore stability to Iraq,” the Finnish foreign minister said.
The Finnish official also held talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Leader’s Advisor on International Affairs Ali-Akbar Velayati.
During the meeting, President Rouhani said, “If the P5+1 members are willing to continue talks with Iran within the framework of international regulations and seek trust-building and further transparency, we will also go ahead with the talks in favor of both sides and with good intention.” He said Iran seeks a win-win objective and the government has been trying to have serious, deep and constructive talks with the P5+1 states. He noted that Iran will not accept any discriminatory approach which runs counter to international laws and wants to be provided with inalienable rights like other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“We hope that Finland, as a member of the European Union, will be active and make efforts to end the loss-loss process and help both sides reach a final and fair agreement. “
Israel plans to grab West Bank lands
Israel plans to grab hundreds of hectares of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli media reports say the plan is a part of Tel Aviv regime’s settlement expansion projects, Press TV reported.
Israeli military sources say about 400 hectares of land at the settlement of Gevaot in the southern city of Bethlehem are declared as Israeli land.
Israeli settlement’s council has welcomed the new vicious plan. The council members have expressed hope that it will pave the way for the expansion of the Gevaot settlement and for making a new city.
The Israeli NGO known as ‘Peace Now’ says the new plan has been unprecedented in its scope since the 1980s. Earlier, another Israeli NGO, B’Tselem, announced that Tel Aviv has seized tens of thousands of hectares of land from Palestinians in the West Bank since 1967 in order to build more than 200 settlements.
The international community regards all Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.
This comes as international criticism is growing against Israel’s settlement activities. Tel Aviv’s expansionist policies have long been considered as an obstacle to the so-called peace talks between Israel and Palestine.
More than half a million Israelis live in hundreds of illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories 47 years ago. Israel occupied and then annexed the West Bank and East al-Quds in the Six-Day War of 1967, but the move has never been recognized by the international community. Also on Sunday, a mass rally has been held in the West Bank city of al-Bireh to celebrate Gaza’s victory in the latest Israeli war on the besieged territory.
Middle management positions for women
The government is planning to open middle management positions for women, said the presidential deputy for women and family affairs.
Shahindokht Molaverdi added that the measure will prepare the ground for women to hold top positions in future.
The official said activities undertaken by the past government to uphold the institution of families have been reviewed and evaluated.
“The department is not capable of solving all the problems facing women,” she said, “and the realization of these targets requires national will.”
She also said having a young population is a great advantage, which should be used properly, otherwise it will pose a challenge to the society.
Referring to the important social, cultural, political and scientific roles played by women, she hoped the incumbent government will realize the will of people, especially women.
“Drug addiction is the main cause of 55 percent of divorces in Iran,” she said.
“Women account for 10 percent of total drug abusers in Iran, which threatens the institution of families.”
Molaverdi noted that a decline in the age of female drug abusers, growing tendency of girls toward psychedelic substances, increasing rate of divorce and lowering rate of marriage are among the main social disorders threatening Iranian women. “Implementation of the plan to empower women householders is another objective pursued by the government,” she said, pointing out that it will be executed in cooperation with labor, industries and agricultural jihad ministries, Imam Khomeini Relief Committee and State Welfare Organization.
She said 1,700 non-governmental organizations involved in activities related to women have been identified nationwide.
Molaverdi said 14 workgroups have been formed to study the problems facing Iranian women.
Iranian cartoonists shine in Syria
Arts & Culture Desk
Two Iranians were awarded at the 10th International Cartoon Contest Syria 2014.
Sticking to the heels of his two Ukrainian contenders, Alireza Pakdel fetched Iran the third prize of the fest’s main section, Mehr News Agency reported.
A Special Prize also went to Iran as Mahmoud Azadnia stole the show.
Cartoonists from Russia, Brazil, China and Azerbaijan also grabbed the Special Prize.
The contest is among the most prestigious cartoon events in the world.
Masoud Shojaei Tabataei, the head of Iranian House of Cartoon, was a member of the fest’s jury panel.
This year’s contest was titled ‘The Syrian Armless Eye Resists Blades of Terror’.
Iraq breaks months-long Amerli siege
Iraqi forces broke through to the terrorist-besieged town of Amerli on Sunday, where thousands of people have been trapped for more than two months with dwindling food and water supplies.
It is the biggest offensive success for the Iraqi government since the terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group overran large areas of five provinces in June, sweeping security forces aside, AFP reported.
The breakthrough came as America carried out limited strikes outside north Iraq for the first time since its air campaign against ISIL terrorists began more than three weeks ago, and aircraft from several countries dropped humanitarian aid to Amerli.
The mainly Shia Turkmen residents of the town in Salaheddin province were running desperately short of food and water, and were in danger both because of their resistance to the ISIL terrorists, which has drawn harsh retribution elsewhere.
“Our forces entered Amerli and broke the siege,” Iraqi security spokesman Lieutenant General Qassem Atta said, an account confirmed by a local official and a fighter from the town.
The operation was launched on Saturday after days of preparations in which Iraqi security forces, Shia militiamen and Kurdish fighters deployed for the assault and Iraqi aircraft carried out strikes against the terrorists.
The United States announced that it carried out three air strikes in the Amerli area, expanding its air campaign outside the far north for the first time, while Australian, British, French and US aircraft dropped relief supplies for the town.
“At the request of the government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amerli,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby on Sunday. “The United States Air Force delivered this aid alongside aircraft from Australia, France and the United Kingdom, who also dropped much needed supplies.”
The ISIL group control swathes of both northern and western Iraq and neighboring northeastern Syria where their rule has witnessed a spate of atrocities that have shocked the world.
Iran blocks Azzurri in world meet
Iran achieved a remarkable opening victory at FIVB Men’s World Championship Pool D in Krakow, after subduing Italy 3-1 (25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22) in front of nearly 7, 000 Polish fans.
Ivan Zaytsev finished as the game’s top scorer with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to break an extremely solid Iranian block, with a 15-9 advantage in that department and an unbreakable Seyyed Mousavi, who blocked 8 times.
Mousavi wrapped up a total of 16 points for Iran, the same amount than opposite Amir Ghafour.
Ghafour led the way for Iran throughout the entire first set, while Italy struggled to even find some focus. Italian coach Mauro Berruto called for a timeout with his side trailing at 10-5, but that five-point gap remained untouchable until the final track, as Iran doubled Italy through counterattack by 12-6 to progress (19-14). Some Azzurri errors smoothed the way for Iran to a final 25-16 score.
However, Italy found some defensive energy and the game got tighter in the second set. It wasn’t until the 2nd technical time our than the Europeans broke free, after some good play from Emanuele Birarelli towards 18-14.
Several times, Iran applied some pressure on their rivals, but Zaytsev and Jiri Kovar held the lead to 23-20. A wrong serve by Iran enabled a couple of Italian set balls and Simone Buti blocked to level the game by 25-23.
It looked like Italy could move forward after the third chapter, as the Azzurri kept control until 19-17 with Zaytsev carrying the flag, but a smart spike from captain Saeid Marouf built the bases for the Iranian comeback. After a 19-point tie, Mousavi stole the show and nailed three blocking points for his side, including the final 25-21 that meant his 6th successful block that far.
Solid blocking was the key for Iran once again in the fourth set. Once again with Mousavi’s firm hands, the Asian squad recovered from a bad start and seized a safe lead at 16-13. Italy lost its temper again, gave away a handful of points (20-15) and, even though the Azzurri saved some match balls, finally Adel Gholami sealed the game, by 25-22.
Putin calls for statehood in eastern Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dramatically raised the stakes in the Ukraine conflict by calling for the first time for statehood to be considered for the restive east of the former Soviet state.
“We need to immediately begin substantive talks ... on questions of the political organization of society and statehood for southeastern Ukraine with the goal of protecting the lawful interests of the people who live there,” Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on a TV show broadcast in the far east of the country.
Russia has previously only called for greater rights under a decentralized federal system to be accorded to the eastern regions of Ukraine, where predominantly Russian-speakers live, AFP reported.
In the program, taped on Friday, Putin did not directly address additional Western sanctions on Russia.
Putin however blamed the crisis in Ukraine on the West, accusing it of supporting a “coup” against pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych in February.
“They should have known that Russia cannot stand aside when people are being shot almost at point-blank,” said Putin, adding that he did not have in mind “the Russian state but the Russian people”.
Putin has denied that Moscow has sent regular troops to fight in Ukraine. Asked if it was possible to predict the end of the crisis in Ukraine, RIA news agency quoted Putin as telling the TV channel: “No. It largely depends on the political will of current Ukrainian authorities.”
Putin added that his meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk last week was “good”, calling Poroshenko a “partner with whom it is possible to have a dialogue”.
On Saturday, Poroshenko said he was hoping for a political solution, but warned that Ukraine – like Russia a former Soviet republic – was on the brink of full-scale war.
The European Union threatened Russia with new trade sanctions if Moscow fails to start reversing its action in Ukraine, but sharp divisions among leaders at a summit in Brussels left the timing of any measures uncertain. The European leaders agreed on Sunday to have EU officials draw up within a week a list of new measures that could hit a range of sectors.
But anxiety about the impact of sanctions on their own sluggish economies – and their access to Russian energy supplies – meant a divided EU could not agree to impose precise deadlines or conditions on Vladimir Putin.
The European Council called on Russia “to immediately withdraw all its military assets and forces from Ukraine” and urged a cease-fire. The leaders asked the EU’s executive arm, the Commission, to prepare proposals on new sanctions for them to review within a week, including measures that would penalize any person or body which dealt with Ukraine’s eastern separatists.
By Sadeq Dehqan & Mostafa Shirmohammadi
Iran has become a key target for many major foreign investors after cracks began to run up the wall of sanctions imposed on Iran, a senior lawmaker said.
Kamaleddin Pirmoazzen, a member of the Majlis Industries and Mines Committee, told Iran Daily that President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks at the 44th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland had a positive impact on attracting foreign investments. Pirmoazzen said foreign companies are increasingly willing to be present in Iran’s market since they know very well that the ground is now paved for their presence in Iran and that the country’s market is virgin with ample opportunities for investment.
“The more obstacles and limitations in the way of investment are removed, the more the flow of foreign investment is enhanced,” the lawmaker pointed out, adding this will help boost the economy and create jobs.
He hailed the government for putting together an economic package to combat recession and said the set has been prepared using the views of industrialists from the private sector and economists as well as valuable experiences of other countries in this respect.
“The package provides good solutions to banking issues. The current banking system is not capable of overcoming the problems of job creators, the unemployed, and employees,” Pirmoazzen noted. The MP described the economic package as the government’s ‘master key’ to bolster the economy and production. “Paying enough attention to this package along with maintaining the positive approach in foreign policy will surely stimulate economic growth.”
He added that the government has predicted all the necessary grounds for investment in its proposed package including tax cut and import tariff reduction.
Pirmoazzen further urged further government cooperation with other branches of power in the Islamic Republic and the use all capacities at home to draw overseas investment as much as possible.
The legislator also praised the government’s ‘brilliant performance’ in bringing down the ballooning inflation rate of over 40 percent to 22.3 percent after taking office in August last year. “Inflation could fall to under 20 percent by the end of the [current Iranian] year (finishing mid-March) following the implementation of the government’s proposed package.”
Pirmoazzen noted that the Foreign Ministry’s constructive interactions with the international community have defused ‘the project of Iranophobia’.
Pakistan protests turn deadly
Thousands of anti-government protesters tried to raid the official residence of Pakistan’s prime minister, sparking clashes with police that killed three people and wounded nearly 400 amid cries for the premier to step down, officials said Sunday.
The overnight violence has raised the stakes in the two-week sit-in led by opposition politician Imran Khan and fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, which earlier saw demonstrators march past roadblocks to set up camp outside of Pakistan’s parliament.
They demand Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down over their allegations of massive voting fraud in the election that brought him into office last year in the country’s first democratic transfer of power, AP reported.
Backed by parliament and many political parties, Sharif has refused to step down as negotiators have tried to convince Qadri and Khan to end their protests.
Sharif vowed on Saturday he would not step down, but if the violence continues it could severely undermine his authority.
Late Saturday night, protesters headed toward the prime minister’s residence.
When the crowd started removing shipping containers used as barricades, police fired salvos of tear gas that forced the crowds back. Authorities have said they had no choice but to use force.
Scores of protesters carrying hammers and iron rods also broke down a fence outside of parliament late Saturday, enabling hundreds of people to enter the lawns and parking area.
Islamabad police chief Khalid Khattak said the protesters were armed with large hammers, wire cutters, axes and even a crane.
The protesters started regrouping at daybreak Sunday and made repeated attempts to make their way through heavy deployment of police and barricades to reach the premier’s residence. Police strengthened their lines and responded by lobbing tear gas canisters.
Nearly 400 people — including women, children and police officers — were admitted to local hospitals, officials said. The injured had wounds from tear gas shells, batons and rubber bullets, said Dr. Javed Akram, who heads the capital’s main hospital.
One person drowned in a ditch after he was in a crowd bombarded with tear gas while two others died from wounds related to rubber bullets, said Dr. Wasim Khawaja, a senior official at the hospital.
The protests began with a march from the eastern city of Lahore on Pakistan’s Independence Day on Aug. 14. Khan and Qadri had called for millions of protesters to join, but crowds have not been more than tens of thousands.
The protesters’ presence and heightened security measures have ground life in much of the capital to a halt.
Both Khan and Qadri stayed overnight at the protests, spending most of their time in the containers that they have been living in for days.
Khan called for demonstrations across Pakistan and described the police actions against the crowd as illegal. Qadri said he’d been up all night praying and monitoring the situation.