Zarif: Iran won’t change regional policies under US threats
Iran will not change its policies in the Middle East despite mounting US pressure, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
“Iran will not change its policies in the region because of US sanctions and threats,” Al Jazeera on Monday quoted Zarif as saying.
In May, US President Donald Trump exited Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, saying it failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 or its role in the region.
“Iran will never hold negotiations about its missile program because our missiles do not threaten anybody,” the top Iranian diplomat pointed out.
Zarif also said a recent proposal by the US to enter into negotiations with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear issue while reimposing sanctions against the country is nothing but propaganda. He emphasized that Washington must lift the bans on Tehran.
Trump said on July 30 that he is ready to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, “any time they want to.”
“It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet,” Trump said.
In a live televised interview on August 6, Rouhani said the US administration is no more able to prove its trustworthiness for any negotiations after its withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and a number of other international treaties.
Elsewhere in his interview, Zarif said the US has launched an economic war against Iran and Turkey, emphasizing that Tehran would fully stand by Ankara in its confrontation with Washington.
Relations between Ankara and Washington have sunk to their lowest point in decades over a number of issues, including the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges, and the depreciation of the Turkish lira to hit record lows against the dollar.
The US president wrote on Twitter late last month that his country “will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by announcing to freeze the assets in Turkey of US ministers of “justice and interior,” in tit-for-tat response to US sanctions.
On Friday, the US president announced to double steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, saying relations between Washington and Ankara are “not good.”
Zarif also said in his interview that Trump’s plan to create a NATO-like security and political alliance between Arab countries to confront Iran is “another illusion and useless policy.”
He added that Saudi Arabia is leading a criminal policy in Yemen and Western countries are cooperating with Riyadh in its war on Sana’a by remaining silent and dispatching arms.
The Al Saud regime along with some of its allies, particularly the UAE, has been waging a deadly war against impoverished Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and crush the popular Ansarullah movement.
Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.
Reuters, Press TV contributed to this story.
Iran to export electricity to Russia via Azerbaijan, Armenia: Minister
Separate negotiations have started with Armenia and Azerbaijan on export of electricity to Russia, said Iran’s minister of energy.
Reza Ardakanian told IRNA on Monday that the linkage of Iran’s electricity grid to that of Europe is being seriously pursued with a number of options under consideration.
One of the options is to link the networks via Iran’s two northern neighbors (Armenia and Azerbaijan), said the minister.
Commenting on the ministry’s plans for swapping electricity with regional countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iraq, the minister said necessary infrastructure is ready for power exchange.
However, Ardakanian explained that in its power swap with regional countries, Iran would in some cases be both the exporter and importer of energy while in other cases it would only be either the exporter or the importer.
Energy ties with neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iraq are considered an advantage for Iran, the minister said.
He noted that the cut in electricity export to some neighbors this summer was due to the peak demand period, but export will be resumed once the power shortage is resolved.
Mismanagement hurting Iran’s economy most
‘No war, no talks with US’
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Monday that Iran’s economic problems were the result of internal mismanagement by the government and not just US pressure.
“Economic experts and many officials believe the cause of this issue is not foreign, it’s internal. Not that sanctions do not have an impact, but the major impact is related to performances,” the Leader told ordinary Iranians at a meeting in Tehran.
He referred specifically to the collapse in the currency, which has lost around half its value since April.
“If our performance is better, more prudent, timely and effective, sanctions will not have that much effect and can be resisted,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
“All people feel livelihood problems today. A section of the people is really under the pressure and the high prices of food, housing and other things are pressuring them,” he said.
“The devaluation of the national currency is one of the current economic problems. When the price of the rial comes down, it is the daily-paid employee who ends up with nothing left,” the Leader added.
Washington reimposed strict sanctions against Iran on August 6 and President Donald Trump has threatened to penalize firms from other countries that continue to operate in the Islamic Republic. Iran has denounced the sanctions as “US unilateralism”.
Trump restored the sanctions after pulling the United States out of the 2015 international nuclear accord. The sanctions prevent Iran from trading in gold and precious metals. They also ban purchases of US dollars by Iran and sanction its automotive sector.
Iranian officials have blamed “enemies” for the fall of the currency and a rapid rise in the price of gold coins, and more than 60 people, including several officials, have been arrested in a drive against financial crime.
The Leader touched on the turmoil in the foreign exchange and gold coins market, calling it the result of “imprudence and neglect” by certain officials who caused government dollars to end up in the hands of manipulators.
Currency fall major problem
“The fall of the rial and the increase in gold coin prices are major economic problems... The corrupt people should be punished firmly,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
“This problem is related to management and executive policies,” he said.
“When they distribute foreign currencies and coins in the wrong way, this distribution has two sides: one who takes it and one who gives it. We are all after the one who takes it, while the main fault rests with the one who gives it. We do not call it treason, but it is a big mistake,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
Special courts are being set up to try suspects quickly after Ayatollah Khamenei agreed with a request by Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani to swiftly deal with financial criminals.
Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday the judiciary chief’s request is “an important positive step to tackle corruption and those involved in economic corruption.”
“I wrote a letter to the heads of the three branches of power several years ago and told them that corruption is a seven-headed dragon that must be fully confronted. Let me tell you, anyone involved in corruption will be firmly dealt with without any leniency.”
Ayatollah Khamenei, however, reminded that the campaign should be carried out justly without political noise.
“Some are saying extreme things and claim that all are corrupt and use such descriptions as systematic corruption; that’s not the case. True, even minor corruption is too much but extremism is wrong in all fields.”
No war, no talks
The Leader said there would be neither war nor negotiations with the United States due to cheating and bullying nature of its government, after Trump called for direct negotiations with Tehran.
In a clear reference to Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, the Leader said, “Why should we sit for negotiations with a bullying [and] cheating regime, which negotiates like this?”
Elaborating on Trump’s offer of direct talks with Iranian officials, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Of course, they act upon a threadbare and worthless political game in this regard; one of them says [they want negotiations with Iran] without any preconditions, the other one sets preconditions.”
“Unlike what some people may think in the country, Americans’ request for negotiations is nothing new and has been repeated many times during the past 40 years, but has been met with Iran’s negative answer. Even then American president, Reagan, who was more powerful than the current ones, in the famous case of McFarlane, sent him secretly to Tehran for negotiations, but he returned without any results 24 hours later.”
“They have a special formula for negotiations, which must be understood and then this question must be answered that will any wise person enter into negotiations according to this formula?” he noted.
The Leader said “give and take” is the reality of negotiations in customary politics, adding, “Banking on their political, propaganda and financial power, Americans try in every negotiation to thwart any resistance that may prevent realization of their goals.
Continued on Page 2
China, India to buy Iran oil regardless of US sanctions
China said on Monday it would continue to import Iran’s crude as it has long been doing, despite the US unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Chinese companies need Iranian oil in any circumstances and will continue to buy it,” the head of the international office of China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF) Andrey Yu told IRNA.
Andrey said China doesn’t pay attention to the US sanctions on Iran. “It is a routine between Iran and China and has nothing to do with the US.
Continued on Page 2
120 Afghans killed in battle with Taliban
Four days of ferocious fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban over a key provincial capital has claimed the lives of about 100 Afghan policemen and soldiers and at least 20 civilians, the defense minister said Monday.
The staggering numbers provided by Gen. Tareq Shah Bahrami were the first official casualty toll since the Taliban launched a massive assault on Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province, last Friday, AP reported.
The multi-pronged assault overwhelmed the city’s defenses and allowed militants to capture several parts of it. It was a major show of force by the Taliban, who infiltrated deep into this strategic city barely 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul.
The fall of Ghazni, a city of 270,000 people, would mark an important victory for the Taliban. It would also cut off a key highway linking Kabul to the southern provinces, the Taliban’s traditional heartland.
Bahrami, the defense minister, spoke to reporters at a press conference in Kabul on Monday. He said the casualty figures are not yet definite and that the numbers might change. He didn’t offer a breakdown of the casualties but Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said nearly 70 policemen were among those killed.
Bahrami said about 1,000 additional troops have been sent to Ghazni and helped prevent the city from falling into Taliban hands. He also said 194 militants, including 12 leaders, were killed — with Pakistani, Chechen and Arabs foreign militants among the dead.
The Taliban have inflicted huge damages on the city, especially Ghazni’s historic parts and cultural heritage, Bahrami said, adding that he believes the next 24 hours would turn the tide in the battle.
Barmak, the interior minister, said top security and government officials, as well as the military chief of staff were now in Ghazni, leading the “clearing up operations” in different parts of the city.”
The attack began on Friday, with militants infiltrating people’s homes and slipping out into the night to attack Afghan forces in Ghazni.
The Taliban also destroyed a telecommunications tower on Ghazni’s outskirts, cutting off all landline and cellphone links to the city and making it difficult to confirm details of the fighting.
Afghan authorities have insisted that the city would not fall to the Taliban and that Afghan forces remained in control of key government positions and other institutions there.
Erdogan: Turkey would overcome ‘attack’ on its economy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is under an economic “siege” that has nothing to do with its economic indicators.
During an address to Turkish ambassadors in Ankara, Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would overcome the “attack” on its economy, AP reported.
He insisted that Turkey’s economy remains strong and said the currency would soon settle “at the most reasonable level”.
In an apparent reference to the US, Erdogan said “the bullies of the global system cannot roughly, shamelessly encroach on our gains that were paid for by blood.”
The Turkish president’s comments came after authorities launched investigations into hundreds of social media accounts for reports they claimed were helping the currency’s plunge.
Erdogan said there is an “economic terror” being waged on social media, adding that “traitors” would be punished.
Turkey’s Central Bank announced on Monday a raft of measures aimed at calming markets rattled by the precipitous plunge of the Turkish lira, but the currency again plunged on the back of comments by the president, AFP reported.
Also Turkey’s foreign minister said the US won’t achieve aims by exerting pressure and imposing sanctions on the country.
Addressing the conference of Turkish ambassadors, Mevlut Cavusolgu called on the US to “remain loyal to ties based on traditional friendship and the NATO alliance” with Turkey.
Cavusoglu said: “We support diplomacy and negotiations but it is not possible for us to accept impositions.”
The dispute between NATO allies Turkey and the United States – which reached a new intensity over the detention of an American pastor – has hammered the lira and raised questions over the future partnership between Washington and Ankara.
It caused global market jitters last week as investors fretted over potential economic contagion from Turkey, particularly to European banks.
The already embattled Turkish lira tumbled some 16 percent against the dollar on Friday as US President Donald Trump said he had doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey.
In European trade on Monday, the lira was trading at 6.88 to the dollar, a loss of another 7.0 percent on the day but recovering from even sharper losses in earlier Asian trade where it struck a record low of 7.2362 to the dollar.
Barca lifts Spanish Super Cup after late penalty save
Barcelona lifted the Spanish Super Cup for a record extending 13th time by coming from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 on Sunday thanks to a stunning strike from France winger Ousmane Dembele and a penalty save in stoppage time from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
King’s Cup runner-up Sevilla took a surprise lead in the traditional curtain raiser to the season against Barcelona when Pablo Sarabia fired home in the ninth minute after Luis Muriel had powered his way through the Barca defense, Reuters reported.
The video assistant referee (VAR) was used for the first time in Spanish soccer to award the goal, which had initially been ruled offside.
Gerard Pique leveled for Barca shortly before halftime by pouncing on the rebound after Lionel Messi’s free kick had ricocheted off the post, while Sevilla’s Franco Vazquez glanced a header off the crossbar in the second half in Tangier, Morocco.
The competition, which ditched its traditional two-legged format and was also played outside Spain for the first time, looked to be headed for extra-time until Dembele let fly from outside the area and his shot thumped in off the crossbar in the 78th minute.
“It was a really difficult game because we conceded very early and we had to fight back. A lot of players have only recently come back from breaks and that took its toll,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters.
“We grew as the game went on. It was an exciting game and they also had their chances. It’s good to win because it gives you belief in what you are doing and it allows you to start the season on the front foot.”
Sevilla had a golden late chance to force extra-time when former Barca player Aleix Vidal was fouled by Ter Stegen in the 89th minute, but substitute Wissam Ben Yedder struck his penalty softly along the ground and the towering German goalkeeper comfortably caught the ball.
Barca’s new captain Messi lifted his first piece of silverware since inheriting the armband from former midfielder Andres Iniesta, and the Argentine also overtook the Spaniard as Barca’s most decorated player with 33 trophies to his name.
Invaluable Persian carpets on display in Ankara
Compiled from Dispatches
The Turkish capital is hosting an exhibition to illustrate Persian carpets and pictorial rugs in a bid to introduce Iranian culture and handicrafts.
Ankara’s Panora Shopping Mall is displaying 24 priceless handwoven rugs and pictorial carpets, the designs of which are inspired by natural landscapes, Qur’anic texts, nomadic culture and life, flowers and social life of different regions of Iran.
Also on display is an exquisite Persian carpet along with delicate silk carpets from Qom and Tabriz, kilims from Khorasan Province in northeastern Iran and carpets carrying designs from the Bakhtiari Tribe in the country.
On the sidelines of the exhibition, the visitors will can see carpet weavers showing their arts while being entertained by traditional Persian music.
Iranian handwoven carpets are exported to 80 countries, with US being one of the leading markets by a total share of 30 percent. The value of the export was around $424 million in the fiscal year from March 2017 to March 2018. This is while following US President Donald Trump decision to withdraw from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the US Treasury Department announced it had revoked licenses to trade in Iranian carpets.
Last year, Tehran sold Persian carpets valued at $126 million to the American market, but the new US sanctions on Iran include handwoven carpets.
Almost 2.5 million Iranians earn their living from producing and trading carpets and the country’s carpet industry plays the biggest role in employment in rural areas, said the head of Iran National Carpet Center (INCC) Fereshteh Dastpak, adding, “Countries such as China, Nepal, India and Pakistan have made great effort and investments in handwoven carpets, but Iran is still unrivaled in producing and exporting this product.”
Two Koreas plan third summit next month
North and South Korea agreed on Monday to hold a summit in the North in September, another step toward boosting cooperation between the old rivals.
Officials from both sides meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom, in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, reached an agreement on a September summit between the countries’ leaders in the North’s capital of Pyongyang, Reuters reported.
No date was announced for what will be the third meeting this year between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
They first met in April in Panmunjom, a remarkable thaw in ties after more than a year of rising tension and fears of war over the North’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
There they agreed that Moon would visit the North’s capital in the autumn, though the pair met again in May in an unannounced meeting at Panmunjom.
No details on an agenda for next month’s talks were announced, but the two Koreas have been discussing a range of issues, from a possible peace declaration to joint economic and infrastructure projects.
The progress between the two Koreas comes as North Korea and the United States are struggling to agree on how to bring about the North’s denuclearization, after Kim vowed to work toward that goal at a landmark summit in June in Singapore with US President Donald Trump.
After Monday’s talks, Ri Son Gwon, the chairman of a North Korean committee aiming for the “peaceful reunification” of the peninsula, told his South Korean counterpart, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, it was important to clear “obstacles” preventing inter-Korean relations from moving forward.
“If the issues that were raised at the talks aren’t resolved, unexpected problems could emerge and the issues that are already on the schedule may face difficulties,” Ri said, without giving details.
Moon and Kim agreed during their first summit to push for a declaration of an end to the Korean War together with the United States this year, but Washington has said it would only be possible after the North abandons its nuclear program.
Last month, the North’s state media criticized the South accusing it of only caring only about the views of the United States and failing to take practical steps to advance inter-Korean relations.