Rouhani: 30% of Caspian Sea issues solved
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday some 30% of differences over the Caspian Sea legal regime has been solved so far and other issues are left to be resolved.
President Rouhani made the remarks during a cabinet session on Wednesday and a few days after the 5th Caspian Sea Summit which was held in Kazakhstan’s port city of Aktau on Sunday, IRNA reported.
The summit featured the signing of a historic convention on the Caspian Sea’s legal status.
Rouhani, who along with Iranian foreign minister attended the summit, said talks over the resource-rich sea had been underway for more than 20 years, noting that some issues were resolved during the talks.
The five Caspian Sea littoral states sign a historic convention on its legal status.
He said that northern countries of the Caspian Sea agreed on some parts of the issues.
Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan agreed on certain issues concerning the sea’s northern part. Moscow was found entitled to 17 percent of the maritime expanse, Rouhani said.
Iran, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan also agreed over a number of issues pertaining to the southern side, he added.
He, especially, hailed the resolution of the outstanding issues regarding the Caspian “security” during the summit.
“The US and the NATO [military alliance] had plotted to establish their presence on the Caspian coasts and deploy their forces there,” Rouhani said.
“Based on this agreement, however, the establishment of military bases and the presence of foreign vessels in the Caspian Sea were banned,” he said, adding, “It was agreed that any ship seeking to sail in the sea should [do so] under the flag of one of the five littoral states.”
“We had good agreements with Azerbaijan which are being implemented while part of the issues still remains unsolved.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the territory of none of the five littoral states can be used for launching a military aggression against another state, President Rouhani added.
“We also agreed that Iran must receive special concessions for its coastal base lines and must have a territorial sea up to 15 miles from its base lines and an exclusive fishing area up to 10 miles from territorial waters.”
Rouhani said that the Iranian ships can commute all over the sea and we can make use of the port, tourism and economic capacities of the sea.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday dismissed claims that Tehran has ceded a significant part of its territorial rights to the Caspian Sea in a recent treaty it signed with four other littoral states, saying that Tehran has not retreated from its stance on the issue.
Speaking to the Persian-language news website Alef, Zarif vehemently rejected claims that in the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, Iran’s share of the sea has reduced from 50 percent to 11 percent.
The top diplomat said such figures are not correct, adding that no shares of the sea have been determined yet other than for Russia and Kazakhstan.
Zarif further emphasized that the Iranian administration has not retreated (from its stance) or relinquished its rights to the Caspian Sea.
The remarks came after some Western media outlets claimed that in the recent treaty, Iran has easily abandoned its share of the Caspian Sea after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The convention was aimed at resolving a dispute over the status of the Caspian Sea which dates back several decades, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Prior to that, Moscow and Tehran had signed a series of treaties, the last two of which defined the Caspian as a “Soviet and Iranian sea” but without establishing any maritime boundaries.
Tasnim News Agency contributed to this story.
Zanganeh to attend JMMC meeting in September
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh will take part in a meeting of an OPEC/non-OPEC committee that monitors output compliance, known as the JMMC, in Algeria in September.
Zanganeh’s objective in attending the meeting is to maintain Iran’s oil market quota, ISNA reported on Wednesday.
The meeting is scheduled to take place six weeks before US sanctions on Iran’s oil industry are due to take effect.
Following months of underproduction, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed with Russia and other oil-producing allies to raise output from July by returning to 100 percent compliance with previously decided cuts. That would mean an output increase of roughly one million barrels per day.
Last week, Zanganeh sent a ‘letter of complaint’ to his United Arab Emirates counterpart after noticing that some OPEC members were trying to adjust output.
Zanganeh told the UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, who holds the OPEC presidency in 2018, that the JMMC should not distribute output increases among other producers.
Iran, which faces US sanctions, disagreed and criticized Saudi plans to boost output above targeted levels.
The JMMC is is due to meet next on September 23 in Algeria. Iran is not on the committee, which also includes Russia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Algeria and Venezuela.
Rouhani: US is to blame for burning bridges with Iran
VP: US trying
to make Iran ‘surrender’
President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday again dismissed Washington’s offer of talks, which followed its unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, saying the US, itself, burned its bridges for negotiations with Tehran.
Currently, the Islamic Republic is holding talks with the entire world, Rouhani told a cabinet meeting.
He added, “The US itself has acted in such a way that has destroyed the circumstances required for negotiations. It has burned its bridges,” Press TV reported.
“There were conditions for negotiation and we were negotiating. They destroyed the bridge themselves,” he said. “If you’re telling the truth then come now and build the bridge again.”
Rouhani stressed, “We will not let the enemy bring us to our knees. If the enemy thinks they will defeat us, they will take this hope to the grave with them.”
US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington in May from the landmark nuclear agreement and decided to reimpose the unilateral sanctions against Iran.
The White House has vowed the “strongest sanctions in history” against Iran unless the country fulfills a list of demands.
New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week, and Trump said companies doing business with the country will be barred from the United States.
Trump said on July 30 that he is ready to meet his Iranian counterpart “any time they want to,” adding, “No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.” His offer of talks came only days after he threatened Iran in a tweet addressing President Rouhani and saying, “You will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”
In response, Iranian officials reject that offer, saying Tehran will not negotiate under pressure and threats. On Monday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic would not enter into new negotiations with the United States due to the cheating and bullying nature of its government.
Aim of US sanctions
Iranian Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said on Wednesday that the United States is trying to make Iran surrender through the reimposition of sanctions.
“The first priority for all of us under a sanctions situation is to work toward managing the country in a way that brings the least amount of damage to people’s lives,” Jahangiri said. “America is trying by applying various pressures on our society to force us to retreat and surrender.”
The new sanctions targeted Iranian purchases of US dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and its auto sector, though the toughest measures targeting oil exports do not take effect for four more months.
The Iranian economy is beset by high unemployment and a rial currency which has lost half its value since April.
Rouhani said the economy is the biggest problem facing the country.
Reuters contributed to this story.
Turkey hits back at US with tariff hikes on key products
Turkey said Wednesday it is increasing tariffs on imports of certain US products, including rice, cars, alcohol and coal as a bitter dispute between the two allies that sent the Turkish lira into freefall showed no sign of ending.
The Turkish government said tariffs on American cars will be doubled to 120 percent while those on alcoholic drinks will be hiked by the same rate to 140 percent. Overall, the duties will amount to $533 million, a relatively small sum that is unlikely to hurt US companies much and appears meant instead to make a political point, AP reported.
Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that the tariffs on certain products were increased “within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the deliberate economic attacks by the United States.”
The tariffs come a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would boycott US electronic goods, singling out iPhones. He suggested Turks would buy local or Korean phones instead, though it was unclear how the boycott would be enforced or encouraged.
Apple has 22 percent of the smartphone market in Turkey, where 11.4 million units were sold last year. Although preference for Apple products is strong, their already high prices are curbing demand.
The Turkish lira has dropped to record lows in recent weeks, having fallen some 42 percent so far this year. It recovered a bit, by 4 percent to around 6.12 lira per dollar Wednesday, after the government took steps to shore up the currency by reducing the daily limit in bank foreign currency swap transactions.
Also helping was Turkey’s decision to release two Greek soldiers from prison on Tuesday, increasing prospects for improved relations with the European Union.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin claimed Wednesday that a series of measures aimed at shoring up the Turkish currency were taking effect and that he expected the lira to strengthen further.
The currency drop is particularly painful for Turkey because it has accumulated a high debt in foreign currencies. Attention will turn Thursday to an address by the finance minister to foreign investors for clues on any change in economic policy.
Erdogan has reacted to the financial instability by blaming foreign powers, in particularly the United States, a longtime NATO ally, which he says is waging an “economic war” as part of a plot to harm Turkey.
Washington has imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, as US President Donald Trump tries to secure the release of Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old American pastor being tried in Turkey on espionage and terrorism-related charges.
On Wednesday, a court rejected an appeal for Brunson’s release from detention and for a travel ban against him to be lifted, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. A higher court was however, was scheduled to review the appeal, the agency said.
Although he was released to home detention, Brunson faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if he is convicted on both counts at the end of his ongoing trial.
Iran will undoubtedly ‘come out of difficult situation’
India’s 72nd Independence Day celebrated in Tehran
By Farzam Vanaki
Although Iran will face certain challenges as a result of Washington’s pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the reimposition of US sanctions, the country will undoubtedly come out of this difficult situation.
“I, at a personal level, do not have any doubt that Iran will come out of this difficult situation thanks to its resilience, innovativeness and talented population,” Indian Ambassador to Iran Saurabh Kumar told Iran Daily.
He made the remarks on the sidelines a ceremony in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Wednesday to celebrate the 71st anniversary of India’s Independence Day.
Continued on Page 2
Taliban attack on Afghan military outpost kills dozens
A Taliban attack on a military outpost in Afghanistan’s northern province of Baghlan on Wednesday killed up to 44 Afghan police and soldiers, provincial officials said, as the terrorists kept up pressure on government forces.
The attack, which came as the central city of Ghazni struggles to recover from five days of intense fighting, underlined how hard the terrorists have been pressuring badly stretched local security forces, Reuters reported.
The Defense Ministry confirmed the incident early on Wednesday, but gave no details. Officials in the area said nine police and 35 soldiers were killed in the latest attack of a series that has killed dozens of security forces nationwide.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the group targeted a military base and two check posts in Baghlan, killing 70 Afghan security forces, and seizing armored vehicles and ammunition.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called for the fighting to stop, saying up to 150 civilians are estimated to have been killed in Ghazni, where the public hospital was overwhelmed and water and electricity supplies cut.
“The extreme human suffering caused by the fighting in Ghazni highlights the urgent need for the war in Afghanistan to end,” the top UN official in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said in a statement.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was providing dressing packages and oral and intravenous medicine to treat the wounded, along with electricity generators and fresh water for about 18,000 people.
The Taliban, who launched their Ghazni assault early on Friday and battled Afghan forces backed by US air strikes in the middle of the city for days, said their forces were pulled out to prevent further destruction.
The Ghazni attack, one of the Taliban’s most devastating in years, has left questions over hopes for peace talks aroused by an unprecedented cease-fire during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr celebration in June and a meeting last month between Taliban officials and a senior US diplomat.
Two senior Taliban leaders said this week the group was considering announcing a cease-fire for the feast of Eid-al Adha, which begins next week, but the future of any peace process remained uncertain.
In the southern province of Zabul, Taliban terrorists clashed with soldiers on Tuesday, forcing the government to send reinforcements from neighboring provinces to retain control of two check posts.
The clashes killed 11 soldiers and one policeman, with three soldiers wounded, said Haji Atta Jan Haqbayan, a Zabul provincial council member.
Separately, six girls younger than 10 were killed when an unexploded mortar they picked up to play with suddenly went off on Wednesday, officials in the eastern province of Laghman said.
China blasts US solar tariffs, takes WTO action
China blasted US tariffs on solar panel imports, filing a complaint at the World Trade Organization in the latest salvo of the trade battle between the world’s two economic giants.
US President Donald Trump approved steep tariffs on solar panel imports in January to protect US producers, triggering an outcry from China, South Korea and even protests from the US solar industry, Reuters reported.
China’s commerce ministry accused Washington of erecting trade barriers while subsidizing its domestic industry.
“While taking protectionist measures against imported photovoltaic products, the US provided subsidies to domestically produced photovoltaics and other renewable energy products,” Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China said in a statement.
China lodged its challenge at the WTO on Tuesday, August 14, the statement said.
The US subsidies have given an unfair advantage to domestic companies and “damaged the legitimate rights and interests of China’s renewable energy companies,” it said.
Beijing said the US measures are suspected of violating trade rules and that it would turn to the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism to protect its interests.
Trump’s tariffs were not popular with the US solar industry, which claimed the rising cost of imports would cause the loss of thousands of jobs.
Imports of cheap Chinese panels helped triple US annual solar electricity generation between 2012 and 2016. But they also drove prices down by 60%, causing most US producers to stop production or declare bankruptcy, the US Trade Representative said in January.
The USTR accused China of using state incentives, subsidies and tariffs to increase production and said manufacturers had evaded US tariffs by repeatedly shifting production to new countries.
The United States and China have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of goods from each country, with another round of levies scheduled to being next week.
Iran wins historic table tennis bronze at Asian junior meet
Iran’s boys’ team collected a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships in Myanmar to put an end to the country’s 60-year wait for glory in the competitions.
On Tuesday, Iran’s four-a-side team – comprising Amin Ahmadian, Arya Amiri, Amir-Reza Abbasi and Hamid Shams shahr-Babaki – settled for a third-place finish in the tournament following a 3-1 defeat against India in the semifinals.
Iran’s highest-ranked player Ahmadian claimed the sole victory against the Indians when he beat Manush Shah 3-1 in the opening fixture of the tie.
Iran had outpointed South Korea 3-2 en route to the last four.
Having started on August 13, the 24th edition of the competitions will finish at the the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium in the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw on August 18.
Iran’s ‘The Rose Empire’ antiques back home
Art & Culture Desk
A collection of Qajar-era (1785-1925) objects on display at ‘The Rose Empire: Masterpieces of 19th-Century Persian Art’ returned to its original home National Museum of Iran and Golestan Palace.
The cultural event took place at France’s Louvre-Lens art museum from March 28 to July 22, IRNA wrote.
‘The Rose Empire’ was dedicated to the arts of the Qajar dynasty that ruled Iran from 1786 to 1925: A period which saw the modernization of Iran, even while the country sought to preserve its identity and traditions. The artistic creation of this period, stimulated by virtuoso artists at court, is particularly rich and abundant.
The exhibition brought together more than 400 paintings, drawings, jewels, enamels, carpets, costumes, photographs or ceremonial weapons, in an immersive and colorful scenography created by Christian Lacroix.
The exhibition was curated by Gwenaëlle Fellinger, senior curator of the department of Islamic Art at the Louvre, and Hana Chidiac, head of the North African and Near Eastern collections of the Quai Branly Museum.
The event was highly welcomed and received more than 190,000 visitors during its run of show, Masoud Nosrati, director of Golestan Palace said.
Nosrati noted, “Eight oil and watercolor paintings, a collection of photographs taken by Nassereddin Shah and also a camera, a copper crown belonging to Agha Mohammad khan, two exquisite handwritten Qurans, and other masterpieces were among the 19 selected works of Golestan Palace in the Louvre Museum.”
Two other works loaned from National Museum of Iran are also expected to return to Iran once the paperwork is done, Nosrati concluded.
Putin ready to meet North Korea’s Kim at ‘early date’
Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “at an early date”, the North’s state media reported Wednesday, amid a rapid diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.
Putin invited Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in June to an economic forum in Vladivostok next month although it is not known whether the North Korean leader responded to the invitation, AFP wrote.
In a message to Kim on the North’s National Liberation Day – marking the end of Japanese rule over Korea at the end of the Second World War – Putin reiterated his intention for a summit.
“I affirm that I am ready to meet you at an early date to discuss urgent issues of bilateral relations and important matters of the region,” Putin said in a message carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The message did not offer a specific date for the meeting.
Putin expressed hopes to further develop “reciprocal cooperation including the realization of the tripartite project” that would also involve South Korea.
Kim also sent a message to Putin, KCNA reported, noting the “valuable tradition” of their joint wartime struggle against Japan was the “strong roots” of their bilateral relations.
The message gave no response to Putin’s invitation, although KCNA did not make it clear if Kim’s message came before or after the letter from Moscow.
The rapid diplomatic thaw on the Korean Peninsula since the Winter Olympics has seen Kim meet with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in twice, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump.