1026 GMT February 18, 2020
A lawmaker said the expansion of political and economic ties with regional states is a top priority for the Islamic Republic at present.
“Having active presence in Central Asia and reducing tensions in the Persian Gulf are key issues that our diplomats should pursue,” Abolfazl Hassan-Beigi, a member of Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry last year established a new economic department that aims to facilitate trade with other countries.
“Expansion of relations with countries like Russia, China, Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq is one of the missions of the ministry’s new department,” Hassan-Beigi said.
The lawmaker called on the Iranian diplomats abroad to get engaged with economic matters and try to attract foreign investment for the country.
“Iranian diplomats each should act as an economist,” he added.
Trump Iraq visit panned
The recent trip made by the US president to Iraq was “undiplomatic and irresponsible” in terms of international affairs and was an infringement of an independent country’s rights, a lawmaker said.
“The international community does not expect the president of a country to trample on other countries’ laws and enter another country in move that is regarded as meddling behavior,” Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said.
Naqavi added, “The Americans are so arrogant that expect Iraqi officials to warmly welcome them in spite of disrespecting their country without any announcement.”
Trump made an unannounced three-hour visit to the Al-Asad Air Base near Baghdad on Wednesday, sparking a wave of condemnation from Iraqi political and military leaders, with some of them demanding the expulsion of US forces.
Syrian refugee crisis
Europe should take more measures to alleviate the pains endured by the Syrian refugees, a lawmaker said.
Mohammad Javad Jamali added many Syrian refugees had no option but to head for Europe when the war in Syria displaced many people, adding that Europe should accommodate more refugees.
“Europe should take Syrian refugees and help stabilize Syria. When stability returns to Syria, many refugees will return to their own country,” he said.
In 2016, out of an estimated prewar population of 22 million, the United Nations identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than six million were internally displaced within Syria, and around five million are refugees outside of Syria. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) counted almost one million asylum applicants in Europe, as of August 2017.
Iran’s cash handouts
On the domestic front, lawmaker Masoumeh Aqapour welcomed the recent government decision to strip the wealthier classes of the society of receiving monthly cash handouts.
The lawmaker, who is a member of Parliament Economic Committee, said about one-third of the Iranian population have been removed from the list of cash handout recipients, adding that the number should increase to more than half of the population.
As part of the Targeted Subsidy Reform Plan, the previous administration removed subsidies on food and energy in 2010, and instead paid monthly cash handouts to all Iranians.
The government of President Hassan Rouhani has not stopped the plan, but has tried to restrict the number of cash subsidy recipients.
The lawmaker also said more than 11 million people are living below the poverty line and need to receive more assistance from the government.
“The amount of cash handouts should be reduced so that more assistance can be given to those living below poverty line,” she added.
Lawmaker Yahya Kamalipour said the Parliament Judicial and Legal Committee approved a bill that would see a drastic reduction in the number of people incarcerated in Iran.
Kamalipour, who is also a member of the committee, said the bill has envisaged changing many criminal offenses with civil ones.
He also called on the judges to announce fewer incarceration sentences as the country’s prisons are overcrowded.
“If the bill passes the Parliament, we will see a 30-40 percent reduction of prisoners,” he added.
Tasnim News Agency reported last year that 240,000 people were behind bars in Iran, with some overcrowded prisons having no more room for new arrivals.
The Judiciary has recently encouraged its judges to avoid prison sentences to upend the trend.