Lavrov: Syria settlement requires Iran’s participation
The settlement of the crisis in Syria requires the involvement of Iran in this process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
The Russian foreign minister made this statement in reply to a question about how he viewed US President Donald Trump’s latest remarks about Tehran, TASS reported.
As Lavrov said, the solution of problems in the Middle East and North Africa requires the partici-pation of external actors “which influence the situation on the ground in one way or another.”
“To a full extent, this also refers to Iran and to what has to be done to settle the Syrian crisis,” Lavrov said.
“The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) focuses precisely on the principle of inclusive-ness, the principle of involving all external actors, and Iran is in the nucleus of this group,” the Russian foreign minister said.
“The Astana process is also based on the principle of inclusiveness, considering that Russia, Turkey and Iran have come up with an initiative of a direct inter-Syrian dialogue with the participa-tion of the government and the armed opposition,” Lavrov noted.
“In this trio, Turkey also acts as a representative of some Persian Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The ministers of these countries confirmed during their visit to Moscow that Turkey also represented their approaches at the Astana venue,” the Russian foreign minis-ter said.
During his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia last weekend, the US president accused Iran of supplying arms to militants in some regional countries.
Saudi Arabia is the main sponsor of the terrorist groups in the region, while Tehran is supporting the governments and peoples of Iraq, Syria and Leb-anon to fight terrorist groups in these countries.
Four-month crude steel production rises over 14%
By Reza Abesh Ahmadlou
Iran produced 6.369 million tons of crude steel in the first four months of the current year, indicating a growth of 14.34 percent compared to the figure for the same period of 2016, which was 5.57 million tons.
According to figures released by World Steel Association (WSA) on Tuesday, China topped the list of crude steel producers during the period with 273.87 million tons.
Japan, India and the United States with 34.982 million tons, 33.159 million tons and 27.009 million tons respectively were listed in the second, third and fourth places, the report said.
In April, Iran produced 1.735 million tons of crude steel showing a rise of 6.11 percent against the figure for March, which was 1.635 million tons.
Global steel production in April amounted to 142.08 million tons, which shows a 0.97-percent drop compared with the March output that reached 143.469 million tons.
WSA is the international trade body of the iron and steel industry. The association represents approximately 170 steel producers, including 17 of the world’s 20 largest steel companies, national and regional steel industry associations and steel research institutes.
Its members account for around 85 percent of world steel production.
22killed in Manchester concert attack
Iran strongly condemns attack
A suicide bombing at a packed Manchester pop concert de-signed to cause “maximum carnage” killed 22 people including children, in the deadliest terror attack in Britain for more than a decade.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said police know the identi-ty of the bomber, who died in the blast late Monday, and be-lieved he acted alone. However, police arrested a 23-year-old man on Tuesday morning in connection with the attack, AFP reported.
Screaming fans, many of them teenagers, fled the venue in panic after the explosion at the end of a sold-out concert by US star Ariana Grande in the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, in northwestern England.
“A single terrorist detonated his improvised explosive device near one of the exits of the venue, deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and in-jure indiscriminately,” May said in a statement outside Down-ing Street after an emergency ministerial meeting.
While 22 people have been confirmed dead, many of the 59 people injured have life-threatening conditions, May said.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing bodies on the floor after the blast around 10:30pm (2130 GMT) on Monday, and some fans were trampled as panicked crowds tried to flee the venue.
The attack, claimed by the Daesh terror group, was the deadli-est in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers in-spired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding 700 more.
May said it was “a callous terrorist attack”, conducted with “appalling, sickening cowardice” and Queen Elizabeth con-demned it as an “act of barbarity.”
Britain’s national terror threat level has been “severe”, mean-ing an attack is highly likely, since August 2014, and May said this would remain unchanged, but under review.
Campaigning for the June 8 general election, in which May’s Conservatives are expected to regain power, has been sus-pended.
World leaders including US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed condolenc-es. Iran strongly condemned the attack.
Terror has one origin
The spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said acts of terrorism, whether targeting Iran or the United Kingdom, origi-nate from one source.
Speaking on Tuesday, Bahram Qassemi strongly condemned a terrorist attack at the concert hall in Manchester, and said the origin of that attack was the same as the source of a recent raid that killed 11 Iranian border guards in the city of Mirjaveh on April 26.
“We believe that the taproot and the ideological origin of ter-rorist incidents in Iran’s Mirjaveh and the UK’s Manchester is one and the same,” Qassemi said.
While he did not elaborate, his remarks were most likely a ref-erence to Saudi Arabia.
Qassemi said, “A serious, purposeful, and honest fight is need-ed [against terrorism] with the unity and [combined] determi-nation of all countries that are victimized by the extremist and Takfiri ideology of these [terrorist] groups.”
He also made a tacit reference to a so-called anti-terror coali-tion formed by Saudi Arabia and said, “One result of [establish-ing] nominal and interest-based coalitions and of giving the wrong directions regarding the foundations... of terrorism is its (terrorism’s) cancerous spread all over the world.”
Europe to build petrochemical plant in Iran
Iranian and European companies signed a multibillion-euro contract to build a petrochemical plant in the Assalouyeh region of southern Iran.
Fars News Agency quoted the CEO of the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) Adel Nejadsalim as saying on Tuesday, “The contract is valued at €3 billion and it will be spent on building two types of polymers for the first time in Iran.”
He underlined that the two types of polymers will meet international standards.
Continued on Page 4
Iran, France urge boost of ties
Iran welcomes cooperation at all levels to bring stability to the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart.
“The Islamic Republic is ready for cooperation in all levels with other countries, including France, to fight against terrorism and to resolve the Syrian crisis,” Rouhani said in a telephone call made by Emmanuel Mac-ron on Monday IRNA reported.
Rouhani told France’s new president he was hopeful that Europe would not copy US President Donald Trump’s stance against Iran.
“We should bring peace and stability back to the region. We hope Eu-rope does not fall into the trap of countries that promote their wrong in-terpretations of the region,” Rouhani said in reference to the US.
Rouhani said at a news conference on Monday that stability could not be achieved in the Middle East without Tehran’s help.
The French leader had called to congratulate him on being reelected in Friday’s presidential vote.
Continued on Page 2
Bahrain police fireon protesters, one reported dead
Bahraini police opened fire Tuesday on a protest held in support of a top Shia cleric, with at least one demonstrator reported dead.
The Britain-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) an-nounced the “tragic death of a peaceful protester in the crackdown” in Diraz, the scene of a long-running sit-in outside the home of Sheikh Isa Qassim.
Eyewitnesses told AFP multiple civilians were wounded when police opened fire at demonstrators throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at se-curity forces.
Police arrested several people wanted by the authorities, the Interior Minis-try said.
Qassim is considered the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s majority Shia com-munity.
The kingdom has been rocked by protests since 2011, when local authori-ties, backed by a Saudi military force, crushed protests demanding a consti-tutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.
Authorities have accused Qassim, sentenced on Sunday to a suspended one-year jail term for illegal fundraising and money laundering, of serving “for-eign interests” and promoting “sectarianism and violence”.
A court last year stripped him of his citizenship, sparking repeated sit-ins outside his residence in Diraz.
The government’s clampdown on dissent has drawn harsh condemnation from international rights groups and governments.
Manama has imprisoned dozens of activists accused of taking part in demonstrations and stripped at least 316 Bahrainis of their nationality since 2012, according to Amnesty International.
A court last year ordered the dissolution of the kingdom’s main opposition group Al-Wefaq after authorities accused it of “harboring terrorism”.
Bahrain’s parliament in March voted unanimously to grant military courts the right to try civilians charged with any act of “terrorism”.
Rights activists fear Qassim could be among the first to face court-martial.
Ousted South Korean leader Park goes on trial
South Korea’s ousted president Park Geun-Hye, grim-faced and brought to court in handcuffs, went on trial Tuesday over a sprawling corruption scandal that saw millions take to the streets and led to her downfall.
Only two months after leaving the presidential palace in disgrace, Park appeared at the Seoul Central District Court with a badge bearing her prisoner number pinned to her blue trouser suit, and no make-up, AFP reported.
She avoided meeting the glance of her longtime secret confidante and co-accused Choi Soon-Sil.
The trial, expected to last for months, is the final act in the drama that engulfed Park, the daughter of a dictator who went on to be elected president herself before being sacked by the country’s top court.
Presiding judge Kim Se-Yun, who heads a three-man panel – there is no jury – asked her: “What is your occupation, the accused Park Geun-Hye?”
She responded: “I don’t have any occupation.”
Park, 65, is the third former South Korean leader to stand trial for corrup-tion.
She was impeached by parliament in December after mass demonstra-tions – fueled by economic and social frustrations -- demanding her re-moval over a scandal centered on Choi, her friend of 40 years, and impli-cating some of the country’s top businessmen.
Park was detained soon after her dismissal – Tuesday’s court session was her first public appearance since then – and indicted on 18 charges in-cluding bribery, coercion and abuse of power for offering governmental favors to tycoons.
On her most serious count, Park is accused of taking or seeking bribes to-taling 59.2 billion won ($52 million) for Choi or herself, most of which went to non-profit foundations which Choi controlled.
Prosecutors told the court that Park and Choi colluded in receiving seven billion won from Shin last year.
Park is also accused of letting Choi, who has no title or security clear-ance, handle a wide range of state affairs including senior appointments. She has previously blamed Choi for abusing their friendship.
In a calm and measured voice the former head of state denied all the charges against her.
Choi and Shin also denied the accusations, with Choi’s lawyer calling the case “politically motivated”.
Half-sobbing, Choi herself told the court: “I feel very sorry for causing President Park to stand trial like this. President Park is not a person who could be lured by any bribes.”
After the hearing adjourned for the day Park was put back into handcuffs and returned to the detention center where she is being held.
Israeli forses kill Palestinian ahead of Trump trip
Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager as he allegedly attempted to stab a police officer at a check-point near Bethlehem, on the eve of US President Donald Trump’s visit to the city on Tuesday.
The child was identified by Palestinian media as 15-year-old Raed Ahmad Rdaydeh from the town of al-Ubeidiya, located six kilometers east of the city, Aljazeera reported.
According to Defense for Children International - Pales-tine (DCIP), the boy is one of at least eight Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces or settlers so far this year.
Israeli news sites did not mention the child by name, but reported that the teenager was shot and killed at a checkpoint northeast of Bethlehem late on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, Trump meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
The meeting was held in the final day of Trump’s Middle East tour, and following his talks with Israeli Prime Minis-ter Benjamin Netanyahu in al-Quds (Jerusalem) a day earlier.
“I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal,” Trump said after holding talks with the Palestinian presi-dent.
Abbas emphasized that the Palestinians preferred resolv-ing the conflict with Israeli through the so-called two-state solution, and that they want East Jerusalem (al-Quds) as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
“Our problem is with the occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Pales-tine ...The problem is not between us and Judaism, it is between us and occupation,” he said.
Back in February, a White House official announced a significant shift in the US foreign policy regarding the Pal-estinian issue, suggesting that it would no longer insist on the two-state bid, under which a Palestinian state would be formed.
Abbas also stressed that “the key to peace” in the Middle East was the independence and freedom of the Palestini-an people.
He further called on Israel to comply with “just and hu-man demands” of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who are on the 37th day of an open-ended hunger strike, dubbed the Freedom and Dignity Strike.
Since April 17, more than 1,600 Palestinian inmates have been refusing food to denounce harsh conditions in Is-raeli jails. Earlier, Abbas expressed hope that the talks would be “useful and fruitful” and would “bring results” on a po-tential resolution of the decades-long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
There is speculation that the Palestinian president would give major concessions to the Israeli side in potential at-tempts to secure a deal. An official close to the Palestini-an Liberation Organization (PLO) said recently that during Trump’s visit, Abbas would propose exchanging 6.5 per-cent of Palestinian territory with Israel, more than triple the amount put forward in a previous land-swap initia-tive.
In a joint press conference with Netanyahu on Monday, Trump welcomed what he called the Israeli premier’s “commitment to pursuing peace,” saying, “He’s working very hard at it – it’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all. But I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually. I hope.”
This is while Netanyahu is known for having seriously dimmed the prospect of a deal with Palestinians by, among other things, catering to the demands of the far-right extremists in his ruling coalition. One manifestation of such catering has been the expansion under Netanya-hu of settlement construction in occupied territories, which the Palestinians want as part of a future state.
Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting
Oil producers inside and outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) group have little choice but to extend their deal from late 2016 curbing output when they meet in Vienna on Thursday, analysts said.
Less predictable, however, is the extent to which this will succeed in boosting the price of crude, particularly with US shale producers back from the dead and pumping at near-record levels, AFP reported
In November, OPEC agreed to slash output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to reduce a global supply glut and lift the oil price.
The following month several nations outside the group, notably including Russia, agreed with OPEC to reduce their production by 600,000 bpd.
The low price, close to just $25 per barrel in early 2016, had battered the finances of all producers, not just stricken Venezuela but even rich-as-Croesus Saudi Arabia.
The agreement helped lift the oil price to the current level of just above $50 per barrel, although this is still less than half that of 2014.
The deal was also a dramatic policy turnaround for OPEC and even saw regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, at daggers drawn otherwise, see eye to eye.
Saudi Arabia and Russia, the biggest of the 24 producers in the accord — and which don’t get on in other areas either — agreed last week that it should be extended until March.
With others including Kuwait signaling their assent, 24 out of 25 analysts polled by Bloomberg News said they expected the curbs to be prolonged, the only question being for how long.
“I think it would be a pretty big shock if they didn’t” (extend the agreement), Capital Economics analyst Thomas Pugh said.
Victims of success
Analysts said that, assuming the deal is extended, the impact in reducing crude inventories should become more apparent from July because of a seasonal pick-up in demand.
However OPEC and the other producers run the risk of being victims of their own success because of shale oil producers in the United States, which are not part of the accord.
Before, OPEC’s strategy was to keep pumping at full tilt in order to push the oil price lower and make life difficult for the Americans, who need a higher price to make money.
When the oil price was at its nadir in 2016, scores of US firms went bankrupt. But with the recent rise, many have returned to the market — and with a vengeance.
US production has risen 850,000 bpd from its 2016 lows to 9.3 million bpd now, not far from the all-time record set in 2015 and just shy of Saudi output levels.
According to Valentin Bissat at Mirabaud Asset Management, this shows that OPEC “has lost some its ability to fix oil prices”.
And according to Commerzbank, rising US production, which will reduce OPEC’s market share, will make ‘discipline, gradually crumble’ among its members to stick to the curbs.
“We therefore still expect to see a Brent oil price of less than $50 a barrel at the end of the year,” the German bank said in a research note.
Kiarostami’s ‘24 Frames’ appears in a special screening at Cannes
Art & Culture Desk
Cannes Film Festival screened ‘24 Frames’ — the final film by the late Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami — on Tuesday morning.
In memory of Kiarostami, the new experimental work ‘24 Frames’ appeared as a special screening at the 70th Anniversary Events of Cannes Film Festival.
Kiarostami, the winner of the 1997 Palme d’Or for ‘Taste of Cherry’, died on July 4, 2016.
The session, which took place on Tuesday, was attended by his friends and his son Ahmad Kiarostami.
An article by Nicolas Rapolda on nytimes.com said ‘24 Frames’ is among a few films, in various categories, that is expected to attract attention at Cannes Film Festival this week.
When Kiarostami died last July, cinema lost one of its contemporary masters and true originals. His final work, reportedly completed before his death, began with some photographs he took over the years.
Kiarostami once gave the following description of the film: “Each of these frames is in essence four minutes and 30 seconds of what I imagine to have transpired before and after a single image.”
‘24 Frames’ is a collection of four-and-half-minute films that takes inspiration from still images, including paintings and his own photographs.
Kiarostami was one of the greatest directors who was able to extract the essence of the human soul throughout his career, leaving behind a number of essential films. For his last work, he directed the experimental project24 Frames, the Film Stage said.
First 20 films undergo restoration
The first 20 films made by Kiarostami, who is also best remembered for the ‘Koker’ trilogy, ‘Close-Up’ and ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’, have been restored in 4K by MK2 Films, firstpost.com reported.
MK2 Films has acquired all the rights to these movies, some of which include ‘The Traveler’ and ‘Where is the Friend’s Home?’. Since 1999, MK2 has produced all of Kiarostami’s films, and was collaborating with him on the last film he was working on before his death.
In an interview to The Guardian, his friend and fellow Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi said, “Kiarostami gave the Iranian cinema the international credibility that it has today. But his films were unfortunately not seen as much in Iran. He changed the world’s cinema; he freshened it and humanized it in contrast with Hollywood’s rough version.”
Interestingly, Kiarostami began his career as a painter and then a graphic designer. His film career began only in 1969 and he later began shooting films abroad.
He died on July 4, 2016 in Paris, where he flew to for treatment for gastrointestinal cancer, which was diagnosed in March 2016.
Turkish deputy PM: Ankara-Tehran-Moscow cooperation will help end Syria crisis
By Kambakhsh Khalaji
Turkey’s deputy prime minister on Tuesday said that the Syrian crisis will be re-solved through cooperation between Ankara, Tehran and Moscow.
Mehmet Simsek made the comment at the International Media Forum in the Medi-terranean resort city of Antalya.
The top official said the three countries are the main players in Syria and have their own leverage in the crisis-hit country that could be used to end the deadly conflict there.
Simsek added that the Middle East crisis would also be settled if there were more democracy and tolerance in societies.
Int’l roles, important partners
The deputy prime minister said Turkey and Iran play major roles in the international arena.
Simsek called Iran an important trading partner of Turkey, saying Ankara is keen to boost its ties with Tehran. He reiterated that Turkey and Iran are important countries in the region, calling for further bilateral cooperation.
Ties with Russia
Simsek also described Russia as a major trading partner, arguing that it is in both sides’ interests to cement their relations.
He said Ankara and Moscow are now moving on the right track, expressing hope that the level of their relations would hit that of the pre-tension era and beyond.