Iran-Uzbekistan direct flights to be launched soon: Akkulov
Domestic Economy Desk
Iran for us is a good tourism market with over 80 million habitants, said the chairman of the State Committee for Tourism Development of Uzbekistan adding that historical cities in both countries will enjoy direct flight routes soon.
Talking in a press conference on the sidelines of the 25th Tashkent International Tourism Fair (TITF 2019) -“Tourism on the Silk Road”, Abdulaziz Akkulov said a project was taken both embassies of two countries to promote trade and tourism cooperation, Fars News Agency reported.
According to talks, during the next year, four cities of Iran, namely Mashhad, Isfahan, Tabriz and Tehran will start direct flights to Uzbekistani cities operated by Iranian Zagros Airline, expressed the official adding that in the first step, the Bishkek-Tehran flight route will be launched.
Akkulov went on to say that Iran and Uzbekistan have suitable infrastructure which could help to build a tourism bridge in coming year.
TITF which is the brightest, largest event in the tourism industry of
Uzbekistan and the entire Central Asian region was held on November 13-15 in a total exhibition area of more than 10,000 square meters in the exhibition pavilions of Uzexpocenter.
The expo is held every year with official support from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the implementation of the Great Silk Road transcontinental project since 1994.
TITF is an effective information platform for promoting a tourism product and establishing business contacts. TITF allows leading experts in the world to exchange experiences, discuss current tourism problems, and introduce new directions. Leading experts announce pricing policies, discuss current tourism issues, and open up new directions.
Attracting hundreds of foreign tour operators including Iranian representatives of the tourism business, it is TITF that determines the potential of inbound tourism, and is a showcase of tourist opportunities in Uzbekistan. The exhibition demonstrates the development opportunities of Uzbekistan as a promising tourist region of Central Asia and the CIS.
The main goal of the fair is a visual representation of the entire tourism potential of our region, the implementation and promotion of tourism services by leading tour companies, hotel complexes, tourism agencies of regions and foreign countries.
Every year, dozens of international travel companies interested in Uzbekistan, as in a profitable direction, become its participants.
Presentation stands of the regions of Uzbekistan were presented in the National Pavilion, demonstrating the features of the national culture and tourism potential of each region of Uzbekistan.
All days of the exhibition was accompanied by performances of folklore-ethnographic ensembles of Uzbekistan, a festival of national cuisine and a demonstration of handicrafts in a specialized city of artisans.
Iranian MP urges swift decision on FATF bills
By Sadeq Dehqan
A member of Iran’s Parliament has called on the Expediency Council to announce its decision on international anti-money laundering bills set forth by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Qassem Mirzaei Nikoo said, “Ratification of FATF bills will help our banks to maintain presence” in international transactions.
Last October, Iran’s parliament approved four bills put forward by the government to meet standards set by the FATF.
Only two of them have so far gone into effect and the fate of the two others, one on Iran’s accession to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the other one a bill amending Iran’s Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) law, is still in limbo.
The Iranian MP made reference to the approval of the bills in Parliament and said that the Guardian Council disagreed with their passage, and thus the remaining bills were referred to the Expediency Council for the final say.
“As of now, endorsement of FATF bills should be followed through at the Council and whatever decision the Council makes in that regard, will need to be observed by all, since the Council’s view stands above all other decisions,” added Mirzaei Nikoo.
He also noted that the Expediency Council will need to pass its judgment on the bills as soon as possible. “Members of the Expediency Council will have to declare their position whether they are in agreement with the FATF [bills] or not.”
The ranking lawmaker pointed to the FATF’s deadline on Iran’s decision over the anti-money laundering bills and said that Tehran has until February 2020 to pass its vote.
He said Iran came up with its own High Council against Money Laundering which drew up bylaws and passed them over to the FATF, but the body insisted that Iran first needed to determine the future of the financial watchdog’s bills.
“The FATF will thus wait till February and if until then no decision is made by us, they will definitely pass their own decision which, given our sanctions conditions, will made the circumstances harder,” added Mirzaei Nikoo.
He cautioned against refraining to pass the bills and said that “we cannot ditch our banks in global interactions. When we are not part of the cycle, it means that our banks which are active in around 70 countries, will turn into a small buy and sell center”.
“The branches of our banks overseas will not be able to engage in proper banking transactions and this will in turn create many other issues”.
Opponents, however, say membership in the FATF will only make the country vulnerable to outside meddling.
They say Iran’s implementation of FATF standards so far has not only failed to attract investment, but it has also exposed various institutions to extraterritorial regulations and penalties.
But Mirzaei Nikoo said opponents’ arguments do not guarantee that Iranian banking transactions will take place without restrictions.
Russia says hands ships back to Ukraine ahead of summit
Russia said on Monday it handed over three navy ships, apprehended a year ago from Ukraine, in the latest move to ease tensions between the two countries ahead of a crucial summit.
After an exchange of prisoners in September and the withdrawal of some frontline forces over the last few weeks, the handover marked another step in trying to resolve the five-year conflict in eastern Ukraine, AFP wrote.
Efforts have been building since the election this year of Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Ukraine’s new president, and on Friday France announced he would hold his first face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on December 9.
The talks, which will also include French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will be the highest-level negotiations on the conflict since 2016.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that the ships – two gunboats and a tugboat – had been handed over to Ukraine.
It said they had “illegally crossed the Russian border” and been held as evidence but were no longer needed.
The Ukrainian ships were seized in November last year in the most serious confrontation between the two countries since the start of the conflict in 2014.
Russian forces boarded and took control of the vessels as they headed through the Kerch Strait, a narrow waterway giving access to the Sea of Azov that is used by Ukraine and Russia.
They captured 24 Ukrainian sailors, who were returned to Ukraine as part of the September prisoner swap.
Border officials had said on Sunday that the ships would be returned and local television showed footage of them being towed by the Russian coastguard through the Kerch Strait.
Tsitsipas ATP Finals triumph shows young guns are ready to rule
Rafael Nadal will end the year as the world’s top-ranked player and the “big three” retained their stranglehold on the Grand Slam titles, but when Stefanos Tsitsipas was crowned ATP Finals champion on Sunday it felt like a watershed moment.
“I believe I’m really close on being crowned a Grand Slam champion. I know these are strong words that I say, but I do feel like I belong to be there,” the 21-year-old Greek boldly claimed after beating Dominic Thiem, Reuters reported.
There have been false dawns before of course. Germany’s Alexander Zverev, like Greek Tsitsipas, was also 21 last year when he beat Novak Djokovic to win the season-ender in London.
Zverev could not back it up in this year’s Slams, two of which were won by the 33-year-old Nadal and two by the 32-year-old Djokovic. They have 19 and 16 majors each while Roger Federer, at 38, will still believe he can add to the record 20 he has accumulated during his extraordinary career.
But for the first time, that golden trio will be having an anxious glance over their shoulders. The past week in London has revealed a new fearlessness in the generation of 20 somethings expected to fill the void when they call it a day.
Austrian Thiem, who at 26 is an established force, got the ball rolling when he beat Federer on the opening day of the ATP’s exclusive year-ender.
The following day Germany’s Zverev beat Nadal for the first time in his career while earlier that day Tsitsipas marked his tournament debut by beating 23-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev, who reached this year’s US Open final, for the first time
It did not stop there. Thiem then beat Djokovic and Medvedev should have beaten Nadal, losing from 5-1 up in the decider.
On Saturday, Tsitsipas silenced the Federer fan club to eclipse the six-time champion in straight sets to reach the final — beating the Swiss maestro with the kind of attacking game Federer has trademarked.
With Nadal and Djokovic bumped out in the group, Federer’s semifinal defeat meant it was only the third time since 2002 that at least one of that trio had not reached the final.
That may have disappointed some, but the quality and intensity of Sunday’s final in which Tsitsipas beat Thiem 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) to become the youngest champion at the season-ending tournament since 2001, had the O2 Arena audience enthralled.
“The question to be asked is where is the road going after Djokovic, Federer and Nadal and after this week I think we are in safe hands,” former world number one Boris Becker said.
With the likes of Medvedev and fellow Russians Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev, Canadian duo Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, Australia Alex De Minaur and Italians Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, not to mention German Zverev, gathering en masse, change is brewing.
Thiem, beaten in successive French Open finals by Nadal, believes next year could herald a new Grand Slam champion.
“I think that for sure we can do it next year. We are all playing great tennis,” Thiem said.
“Sascha (Zverev), Stefanos, me, some other guys. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to see a new and young Grand Slam champion next year.”
Tsitsipas wisely pointed out, however, that over best-of-five-set matches, beating the big three remains a massive challenge, even if he did down Federer in Australia.
“That’s a really difficult task to do for players,” he said.
“For us, for the young guys, it’s all about time. I don’t know. We will have to beat them or wait for them.”
On the evidence of the past seven days the waiting game may be about to come to an end.
Five Iranian films to be screened at Indian festival
Compiled from Dispatches
Four Iranian films are slated to take part in the 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), to be held from November 20 to 28 in Goa.
‘6.5 Per Meter’ by Saeed Roustayi and ‘Old Men Never Die’ by Reza Jamali will take part at the non-competitive Panorama section.
‘The Warden’ by Nima Javidi will compete with film from eight countries including Germany, Italy, Mexico and the US to win the UNESCO Gandhi Medal of the Indian festival.
‘At Five in the Afternoon’ by Samira Makhmalbaf will compete at the Golden Peacock Retrospective.
Approximately 200 foreign films will be screened during the festival. In the event, 24 films are in the race for Oscar nominations. The festival will also showcase 50 films of 50 women directors.
IFFI will be paying homage to 13 film personalities of the Bollywood for their contribution to the industry.
These film personalities include filmmaker late Mrinal Sen, late actor Girish Karnad, late actor Kader Khan, late film producer Raj Kumar Barjatya, stuntman and father of actor Ajay Devgn, late Veeru Devgan and late actor Vidya Sinha.
The homage section will showcase their notable films. The grand inaugural ceremony of the IFFI, which is set to end on November 28, will be hosted by ace filmmaker Karan Johar.
With 48 years of existence and over a decade’s presence in Goa, IFFI has grown massively in both quantitative and qualitative terms. In 1952, it started with the participation of 23 countries with over two hundred films’ entries. This year, the numbers have quadrupled to a whopping 1,000 entries from over 100 countries across the world.
Kuwait’s monarch fires son over feud with fellow minister
Kuwait’s emir on Monday fired his own son and another cabinet minister after they publicly feuded over accusations of corruption, ordering the prime minister to form a new government.
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued the decree just days after Kuwait’s cabinet resigned amid a separate inquiry. Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, who has held the post since 2011, has asked the emir to relieve him of the task of forming a new government, AP reported.
The emir fired both Defense Minister Nasser al-Sabah — his son — and Interior Minister Khaled al-Sabah, who had issued statements against each other. The defense minister said he discovered that $790 million was embezzled while the interior minister served as his predecessor.
Sheikh Nasser is seeking his predecessor’s prosecution along with five other top Defense Ministry officials over the alleged embezzlement. The cabinet resigned last week after a minister stepped down following a grilling by parliament.
Parliamentary elections are expected in November 2020.
The Justice Ministry imposed a gag order banning local media from reporting on the embezzlement case. It said the trial would be closed and that no information related to it should be circulated in social or traditional media.
While Sheikh Nasser is not currently in line for the throne, his appointment as defense minister drew attention as it came after Saudi King Salman similarly appointed his son to defense minister before upending succession and making him the crown prince.
Iran calmer despite ‘riots’ over fuel price hike
US show of support for ‘rioters’
Iran said it still faces “riots” even though the situation was calmer on Monday after days of violent protests sparked by a sudden decision to hike gasoline prices.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the situation was “calmer” on Monday. But there were still “some minor issues but tomorrow and the day after we won’t have any issues with regard to riots,” he told a news conference, without elaborating.
“There have been gatherings in some cities, in some provinces,” Rabiei said.
Pressed to give figures on the number of casualties in the unrest, he said, “What I can tell you today is that gatherings are about 80 percent less than the previous day.”
Rabiei said violent protesters took police and security personnel hostage during the unrest.
“Rioters used knives and guns...A number of security agents and policemen were killed or taken hostage,” he said.
Major roads have been blocked, banks torched and shops looted in the nationwide unrest that has left at least two dead – a civilian and a policeman.
Footage of the violence showing masked young men on debris-strewn streets setting buildings ablaze has been aired on national television.
Fars News Agency said Sunday more than 1,000 people were arrested. At least 100 banks and dozens of buildings and cars have been torched, state media reported.
The unrest erupted on Friday, hours after it was announced the price of gasoline would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (13 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.
It is a rise many consumers can ill afford, given that Iran’s economy has been under pressure since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions.
The rial has plummeted, inflation is running at more than 40 percent and the International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s economy to contract by 9.5 percent this year.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps warned rioters of “decisive” action if unrest over gasoline price hikes do not cease.
“If necessary we will take decisive and revolutionary action against any continued moves to disturb the people’s peace and security,” the IRGC said in a statement carried by national TV.
Authorities restricted Internet access. Rabiei said the government should soon unblock Internet access across the country.
Fars said it was unclear when the Internet restrictions would be lifted, citing an informed government source.
NetBlocks, a website that monitors net traffic, tweeted: “40 hours after #Iran implemented a near-total internet shutdown, connectivity to the outside world remains at just 5% of ordinary levels.”
The US on Sunday condemned Iran for using “lethal force” against demonstrators.
“The United States supports the Iranian people in their peaceful protests,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he tweeted “the United States is with you” on Saturday in response to the demonstrations.
In a statement issued late Sunday, the ministry said it was reacting to Pompeo’s “expression of support... for a group of rioters in some cities of Iran and condemned such support and interventionist remarks.”
“The dignified people of Iran know well that such hypocritical remarks do not carry any honest sympathy,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying.
“The acts of a rioter and saboteur group supported by the likes of (Pompeo) have no congruity with the conduct of the wise Iranian people.”
The statement blasted Washington’s “ill-intent” over its decision to reimpose sanctions on Tehran after withdrawing from the nuclear deal.
“It’s curious that the sympathizing is being done with the people who are under the pressure of America’s economic terrorism,” Mousavi said.
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Police swoop as Hong Kong protesters try to flee
Hong Kong riot police swooped on protesters trying to flee a university they had set ablaze Monday, in one of the most violent confrontations seen in nearly six months of unrest.
Hundreds of demonstrators clashed throughout the day with police who had threatened to use deadly force, as protests also flared in other parts of the city, AFP reported.
Monday’s events were part of a new phase of violence that began last week and has led to chaos throughout the city of 7.5 million people, with schools closed, train lines disrupted, and major roads blocked by barricades.
China has refused to budge on any of the protesters’ demands, and warned it will not tolerate dissent.
Chinese soldiers briefly appearing on Hong Kong’s streets over the weekend supposedly to clean up debris fueled concerns it could step in militarily.
On Monday police tried to dislodge several hundred hardcore protesters who had occupied Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) over the weekend.
Overnight the mainly black-clad youngsters set fire to PolyU’s main entrance as they repelled an attempted police incursion.
Daylight saw no let-up, with clashes every time activists emerged from the campus.
Hails of tear gas greeted attempts to break out, with activists forced to retreat or trying to find holes in a police cordon.
Police made dozens of arrests – sometimes beating people with batons as they held them on the ground.
The last few days have stood out as particularly violent, with one police officer hit in the leg by an arrow, and an armored police vehicle torched.
Officers fired live rounds on Monday, though said they did not think anyone had been hit.
Police declared events at PolyU a “riot” – rioting is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
“I hereby warn rioters not to use petrol bombs, arrows, cars or any deadly weapons to attack police officers,” a force spokesman said.
“If they continue such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live rounds, to fire back.”
Hong Kong police routinely carry side arms, but until now they have only used them in isolated incidents during running street clashes. Three people have been shot, none of them fatally.
They have largely relied on tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets, but the new warning suggests a more proactive use of live rounds.
North Korea says no more talks with US just so Trump can boast
North Korea said on Monday it was not interested in meaningless talks with the United States just so President Donald Trump had something to boast about, urging an end to what it called a policy of hostility if America wanted dialogue.
The comment by senior North Korean official Kim Kye Gwan, who is a former vice foreign minister, came after Trump on the weekend called on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to “act quickly” and hinted at another meeting, Reuters wrote.
Kim, in a statement carried by the state KCNA news agency, said he had seen the Nov. 17 Twitter post by Trump signaling another summit but added that little had improved despite three meetings between the two leaders since June last year.
“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” he said.
“As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the US president with something he can boast of, but get compensation for the successes that President Trump is proud of as his administrative achievements,” Kim said.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim met for the first time in a landmark summit in Singapore in June last year, to push forward negotiations the United States hopes will lead to North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear and missile programs, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
The talks have made no significant progress since a second summit between Trump and Kim collapsed in Vietnam in February, even though the two leaders agreed in June, at a third meeting, to reopen negotiations.
In April, Kim set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility, raising concern North Korea could resume nuclear and long-range missile testing, which it has suspended since 2017.
Kim Kye Gwan said the United States must make a decisive move to abandon its hostile policy if it genuinely wanted dialogue. He did not elaborate.
In his Twitter message, Trump urged Kim to “get the deal done”, signing off “See you soon!”.
The message came hours after the United States and South Korea announced they were postponing military exercises in an effort to bolster the stalled peace push.
North Korea denounces such exercises as a preparation for invasion. On Sunday, it also said a recent UN resolution on its human rights conditions was an obstacle to new US talks.
Working-level talks between the two sides in October ended with the North Korean envoy accusing the Americans of coming to the table empty-handed.
On Monday, the North’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui travelled to Russia, a trip that analysts said could be to discuss strategy for the US negotiations.
This month, North Korea said it had turned down a US offer for more talks, saying it was not interested if they were aimed at “appeasing us” ahead of the deadline. While North Korea wants the sanctions lifted, the United States has insisted Kim must dismantle his nuclear weapons program first.