Iran: Warsaw conference final statement underscores meeting’s failure
Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations raised in the final statement of the Warsaw Conference held in Poland, describing the communiqué as proof of the anti-Iran meeting’s failure.
Despite Washington’s tremendous efforts to hold an all-inclusive summit and create a new alliance against Iran, the small number and low level of those attending the conference turned the final statement of the summit into a useless document, which was developed only by the two organizers of the summit and lacked any credibility, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in a statement on Friday, Tasnim News Agency reported.
According to the spokesperson, even those few and low-ranking participants refused to put their weight behind any anti-Iran decision at the conference, which was a nonstarter from the start.
From the early stages of its development, the failure of the idea of holding the summit was completely imaginable and predictable to all leading and wise visionaries, analysts and politicians, said Qassemi.
“How can a conference titled Peace and Security in the Middle East succeed while main regional players like Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Palestine are absent, and significant countries such as China, Russia and many other leading European and non-European states are either not in attendance or represented on a very low level,” he argued.
The spokesman also noted that the nervous and tense remarks and behavior of the US secretary of state and vice president who, during their speeches and interviews, openly criticized Europe or insistently asked them, from a position of weakness, to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, are the best testimony to and a sign of their failure and incapability to achieve their desired goals at the summit.
On the one hand, the US sponsors a conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East while, on the other hand, fans the flames of tension among regional states, Qassemi said.
“The US promotes insecurity, instability, poverty, war and extremism in the region through its unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal and by violating all international laws and pursuing hypocritical policies and sponsoring terrorism,” he added.
The Iranian spokesperson also underlined that despite all hostile and belligerent policies of the US and the Israeli regime, the fight and resistance to create a secure and stable region free from the presence of foreign and aggressive powers will go on.
Qassemi finally stressed that the US should immediately put an end to its fruitless grudge and resentful policies by understanding the realities of this sensitive region of the world.
Eighth Fadjr International Fashion and Clothing Festival opens in Tehran
Art & Culture Desk
The Eighth Fadjr International Fashion and Clothing Festival (February 15-21) opened in a ceremony in Tehran on Friday.
The ceremony was attended by Vice President for Family and Women’s Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar and the former assistant of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on citizenship rights, Shahindokht Molaverdi.
Iranian producers, designers and brands are showcasing their latest products and achievements in fashion and clothing at this festival.
In an address to the opening ceremony, Ebtekar said Iran is among the countries whose capacities, potentials and capitals in certain fields have still remained untapped.
She added, “All these create a great and momentous situation for us.”
Appreciating efforts by domestic designers, producers and traders in the fields of fashion and clothing as well as all Iranian cultural officials who have sought to use the country’s entire capacities and assets, she said in the fourth decade following the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution “we see that we have made significant progress in the areas of education and art”.
Given its great cultural diversity and a large number of different ethnic groups, Iran has a high capacity to, thanks to its historical background and globally top-ranked handicrafts, make a significant progress in the field of clothing, Ebtekar noted.
She described as lucrative and very good, respectively, the economic dimension of the industry and the number of job opportunities it has created, urging that Iran should be a pioneer in this field.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Hamid Qobadi, the secretary of the Iranian Working Group for Organizing Fashion and Clothing, said among the most important policies of the working group, adopted through solidarity and unity, is that “we have attempted to move toward employing a style- and taste-oriented approach from implementing a product-oriented one, which is an outcome of years of efforts”.
Previously, he said, Iranian people had to use one-dimensional products, whereas in the past few years, Iran’s fashion and clothing industry has adapted itself in a way to cater to their tastes.
“We have attempted to, instead of telling people what to wear, increase their choice. This is perhaps our working group’s most important policy.”
Addressing the same ceremony, Sadiqeh Pakbin, the festival’s executive secretary, said the event seeks to be a window for showcasing a major cultural category and industry that has a very high turnover in domestic market. She added the festival aims to do its best to hand over the helm of this market to domestic producers.
“We are required to provide our producers with the opportunity to exploit these potentials to be able to witness an incremental progress in this cultural field.”
She said Iran had previously handed over domestic clothing market to foreign producers, whereas “we can capture it by paying greater attention” to this industry.
Iranian producers and designers shoulder a very important responsibility to this end, Pakbin said, adding they have to combine science with the country’s valuable cultural elements to be able to inject Islamic-Iranian culture into the domestic market.
Rouhani: Terrorists mustn’t feel safe anywhere in world
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said terrorists must not feel safe in Syria or any other part of the world, warning their supporters about playing the card of terrorism to achieve their goals.
“Terrorists must not feel safe in this country or any other part of the world and their supporters should not assume that they can play the terrorism card to their benefit in domestic, regional, or international equations,” the Iranian president said.
Rouhani made the remarks at a tripartite meeting, which was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Russia’s resort city of Sochi on Thursday, Press TV reported.
Unfortunately, the US administration is still backing the terrorists based in Iraq and Syria and uses them to further its own interests as it presses ahead with its “illegal activities” in Syrian territory, Rouhani added.
He said “reliable reports” show that the US has assisted the terrorists enlisted with the Takfiri group of Daesh in traveling around in Syria and also helped some of them leave the country for Afghanistan.
Rouhani said the US has established a military presence in Syria without any Damascus permission, breaching all international regulations as well as the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of an independent country, which is a member of the United Nations.
Pointing to an earlier announcement by the US that it would pull its forces out of Syria, Rouhani said Washington has to act on the claim as soon as possible so the Syrian government’s sovereignty is restored, as is the case elsewhere in the country, to the areas lying to the east and north of the Euphrates River.
The Iranian chief executive asserted that intra-Syrian dialogue needed to continue without any foreign interference, and Syria’s “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and [the principle of] non-interference in the country’s domestic affairs should be observed under any circumstances.”
The Iranian president, meanwhile, stressed that the international community also had to confront the Israeli regime’s arbitrary measures targeting Syria.
The regime is also providing assistance to some terror outfits in Syria, he said, adding that Israeli officials themselves had recently owned up to the “heinous act.”
The Sochi summit, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was aimed at solidifying the three countries’ cooperation towards returning peace and stability to Syria.
Over the past years, Iran and Russia have been respectively lending military advisory support and aerial backup for the Syrian military in its battle against militants and Takfiri terrorists. The foreign-backed groups started a campaign of bloodshed and destruction against the Arab country in 2011.
The three countries, known as the guarantor states of a ceasefire regime in Syria, have been mediating peace negotiations between representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups in a series of talks held in the Kazakh capital of Astana and other places since January 2017.
Stability in Syria
For his part, Russian President Putin said that the trio was investing coordinated efforts to ensure that stability prevailed in Syria again and to help the Syrians with the reconstruction process. He reminded that tens of thousands of displaced Syrians had returned to their homeland over the past six months.
Putin called on the international community, most importantly the UN and its agencies, to play a more effective role in providing support to all Syrians without preconditions.
“The cessation of hostilities’ regime is being followed all over Syria, and consequently, escalation has been reduced, which is a positive result of the joint work of the three states,” he said.
“We need to guarantee long-term de-escalation in Idlib after we have succeeded in establishing the cessation of hostilities regime in the province,” Putin said.
The northwestern province of Idlib contains the largest remaining concentrations of Takfiri terrorists in the Arab country.
“But this does not mean that we remain silent on what the terrorist organizations are doing; that is why I suggest that we consider practical steps that the guarantor states could jointly take to fully get rid of the hotbed of terrorism in Idlib,” he added.
Putin concluded by saying that a UN-backed Constitutional Committee tasked with composing Syria’s inclusive constitution had to start its work “very soon,” noting that remarkable efforts had been made in this regard.
UN lack of action in Syria
Following their tripartite meeting, the three heads of state took part in a joint press conference, answering questions regarding various issues related to the current situation in Syria.
There again, Rouhani referred to the US support for terrorists fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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Zarif: Iran doesn’t trust Trump
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the idea of renegotiating the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal that US President Donald Trump pulled out of in May and snapped backed sanctions on Iran.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with NBC News on Friday, Zarif said Iran is not open to revisiting the deal which was aimed to put limits on the country’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting the sanctions.
Zarif said Iran isn’t interested in sitting down with Trump, saying: “Why should we negotiate? ... Why should we trust President Trump that he would abide by his own signature?”
Zarif said Iran spent years negotiating the nuclear agreement with the US and other world powers.
He said he saw no reason to do this because the original agreement was so complex and painstakingly negotiated.
“The nuclear deal was the result of 13 years of negotiations,” he said. “We produced not the two-page document that President Trump signed with the chairman of North Korea but a 150-page document,” he added, referring to Trump’s accord with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un last year that was widely criticized for being too brief and vague.
Zarif pointed to agreements the Trump administration has pulled out of, such as the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement.
“You name it, they’ve withdrawn from it,” he said.
The Trump administration withdrawal from the agreement last year, put the US at odds with European leaders and independent watchdogs who say Iran is complying with its terms.
Zarif’s comments came before an annual security conference in Munich that brings together more than 30 heads of state and government and 80 defense and foreign ministers.
Vice President Mike Pence, who will head the US delegation to the Munich conference, accused Britain, France and Germany on Thursday of trying to “break” American sanctions on Iran and called on them to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Tehran.
That could set the stage for frank exchanges in Munich.
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UNSC, EU condemn terrorist attack in Iran
Iran vows revenge on ‘mercenaries’ behind bombing
The UN Security Council and the European Union on Thursday condemned a suicide bombing which killed 27 troops and wounded 13 others in southeastern Iran.
In a statement, the members of the council called the terrorist attack “heinous and cowardly” and expressed their sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Iranian government.
The council members reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.
They underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice, and urged all states to cooperate with the Iranian government and all other relevant authorities in this regard.
“Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomever committed,” they said, reaffirming the need for all states to combat threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
The European Union condemned the attack, saying, “There can be no justification for such an outrageous act of terror,” and expressing condolences to the families of the victims.
The bombing, which targeted a busload of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps personnel in Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Wednesday, was one of the deadliest attacks on Iranian security forces in years.
The troops killed were aged from 21 to 52 and belonged to the IRGC’s 14th Imam Hussein Division.
The bomber struck as they were returning from a patrol mission on the border with Pakistan, where Baluchi separatist and jihadist groups have rear bases, the IRGC said in a statement.
The attack was claimed by the so-called Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Iran. The organization was formed in 2012 as a successor to the terrorist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God), which waged a deadly insurgency for a decade before being severely weakened by the capture and execution of its ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi by Iran in 2010.
It came just days after Iran held more than a week of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which overthrew the US-backed shah.
Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah also denounced the attack, saying it was in retaliation for “the Iranian nation’s huge turnout in rallies” marking the anniversary.
“The takfiri and terrorist gangs behind this horrific suicide attack were nurtured, financed and supported by the US, Israel and their regional allies,” Hezbollah said.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the attack’s perpetrators were certainly linked to “the spying agencies of some regional and trans-regional countries.”
In a message, Ayatollah Khamenei offered condolences to the bereaved families of the victims and called on the IRGC and relevant government institutions to swiftly and seriously follow up on the incident and deal with the perpetrators.
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Turkey ‘ready’ to launch Iran trade channel to bypass US sanctions
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country is “ready” to establish its own trade mechanism with Iran, allowing companies from the two neighbors to continue doing “legitimate” business amid punishing US sanctions.
Erdogan made the statement on Thursday during a bilateral meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the three-party talks on Syria in the Russian resort city of Sochi, Al Jazeera reported.
“Turkey is ready to join the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) and create a similar bilateral mechanism for trade cooperation with Iran,” he said, referring to INSTEX (Instrument In Support of Trade Exchanges), a new body set up by the European Union that process payments outside of the regular banking institution.
“Multilateral cooperation with Iran on different issues has had positive achievements and Turkey is ready to expand this cooperation to other countries in the region,” Erdogan added.
Energy, industry and transportation
No specific date has been announced when the Turkish SPV would be set up.
Rouhani said that Tehran hopes that “obstacles” are removed so the two countries will be able to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
Cooperation in the private sectors is also “very good”, Rouhani said adding that “deepening banking transactions is prerequisite to development of these ties”.
He added that Tehran is ready to develop relations with Ankara on energy, industry and transportation.
“It is essential that the authorities of the joint commission of cooperation accelerate the process of implementing these agreements,” Rouhani said.
Earlier this month, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Turkey is the only country in Europe that has not stopped buying Iranian oil since the reimposition of US sanctions.
In 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reinstated economic sanctions against Iran, including on oil trading and banking transactions.
The Trump administration has warned other countries to abide by its unilateral sanctions, or else its companies could face possible penalties.
Erdogan’s announcement on Thursday risks damaging Turkey’s relationship with the United States, which has been pressing other countries to cut economic ties with Iran.
Meanwhile, Erdogan and Rouhani also discussed security matters in the region, with the Turkish leader vowing to continue “bilateral and regional cooperation with Iran against terrorism”.
Erdogan also condemned the suicide bombing attack in southeastern Iran that killed 27 troops.
Rouhani responded saying it is “unfortunate” that armed groups continue to operate in the region with the support of “foreign powers, especially by the United States”.