Rouhani urges deeper economic ties with Australia, Pakistan, Belarus
President Hassan Rouhani described the post-nuclear deal era as a new opportunity for expansion of cooperation between Tehran and Canberra, stressing that both countries should grasp the opportunity in line with the two nations’ interests and common goals.
He made the remarks in a meeting with the new Australian Ambassador to Tehran Ion David Grant Biggs on Sunday in Tehran, president.ir reported.
“Despite having friendly political relations, both countries have failed to use their common capabilities in economic fields”, President Rouhani said.
He also stressed the importance of banking relations in promoting bilateral ties and said Iran and Australia should make more efforts to deepen economic relations.
The president emphasized on the necessity of fighting terrorism as a global issue and said uprooting terrorism depends on collective and international cooperation.
Pointing to the issue of asylum-seekers in Australia, Rouhani called on Canberra to treat refugees within the bounds of international law, tasnim News Agency reported.
“We hope that Australia would treat asylum-seekers within the framework of international law as this issue is important to all of us on humanitarian grounds,” Rouhani said.
The Australian envoy said Australia itself is concerned about the way immigrants are being treated, saying talks are in progress with relevant international organizations on the issue.
Biggs also stressed that the post-deal era allows Iran and Australia to expand trade and economic interaction.
Also on Sunday, Rouhani met with new Pakistani Ambassador to Tehran Asif Ali Khan Durrani.
During the meeting, Rouhani called for closer cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad in all areas and stressed the need for quickly implementation of the agreements previously signed between the two neighboring countries.
The Pakistani diplomat highlighted the “strategic cooperation” between the two friendly countries in hard times and called for better economic and trade relations at the same level of the political ties.
During a meeting with new Belarusian Ambassador to Tehran Yuri Lazarcic, Rouhani highlighted the efforts made by the Iranian and Belarusian officials to develop economic cooperation between the two countries, saying that the obstacles should be removed in this respect, IRNA wrote.
The new Belarusian envoy submitted his credentials to Rouhani, saying that bilateral relations between the two countries are friendly and based upon reciprocal respect and confidence.
Leader: Armed Forces must boost preparedness to deter enemy’s aggression
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that the country’s Armed Forces must boost their preparedness to deter any enemy aggression.
Addressing a meeting with commanders and officials of Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base on Sunday, the Leader added that the base stands “at the forefront of confrontation with any aggression,” Press TV reported.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic is faced with an evil and deceitful front which is hostile to the very religious principles, independence and defiance of the nation.
“In the face of such an enemy, which seeks to undermine the country’s defensive prowess, the Armed Forces’ preparedness must be boosted to an extent that the enemy would not even allow itself to think about any aggression,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.
The Leader said determination, will and human forces’ capabilities are among the leading factors to remove obstacles and points of weakness.
He added that Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base must realize the importance of its position and show determination and decisiveness to erode the enemy’s resolve in any attack.
“Our opposite side, which we refer to with terms such as the arrogant system or the global Zionism, is an evil and deceitful front with oppressive ideologies and bears hostility against the principle of religious beliefs and independence of the Iranian people and their refusal to bow to bullying,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
The Leader said the hostility of this arrogant front has various appearances, adding, “This enmity emerges in the form of the United States of America one day and in the form of a bullying regime such as that of the [executed Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hossein] another day.”
“However, it is important that we adopt and implement a correct stance and decision by using the country’s plentiful potential and capacities and by identifying the enemy’s stance and plans,” the Leader pointed out.
He said foreign opposition and widespread hype over Russia’s delivery of the S-300 air defense system to Iran and the status of the Fordow nuclear facility are among the examples of the enemy’s wickedness.
“The S-300 system is a defensive and not an aggressive apparatus but the Americans made their utmost efforts to [prevent] the Islamic Republic’s access to such a facility,” the Leader added.
The Leader said the enemy does not even recognize the Iranian nation’s right to protect itself and “in fact, it is saying that you must remain defenseless so that we can attack your country any time we want.”
Ayatollah Khamenei further urges the air defense base to remain vigilant, take timely action and use different approaches and advanced means.
“The enemy must understand that if it launches an attack, it will suffer a heavy blow and that our defense will also include a response,” the Leader added.
Iran, France announce environmental agreements
Iran and France have agreed to carry out joint projects toward the enhancement of environmental issues in both countries.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s vice president and head of the Department of the Environment (DoE), said on Sunday that she had reached an agreement with visiting French Environment Minister Segolene Royal on a number of joint projects addressing energy, water shortages and pollution.
In a Sunday meeting, the two officials agreed to establish several key partnerships on environmental issues by February 2017.
Ebtekar, who is also a vice-president of Iran, said the visit “shows the important international cooperation on the environment, and sends a strong message to the global community that countries can cooperate strongly on their shared interests and issues in the field of environment,” AFP wrote.
Royal, who came to Iran on Ebtekar’s invitation, had arrived in the Iranian capital on Saturday.
Continued on Page 2
40 dead as Turkish shelling, raids hit Syria
Turkish shelling and airstrikes killed at least 40 Syrians on Sunday, a monitor said, in the first significant civilian casualties in Turkey’s intensifying campaign in northern Syria.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said the army had killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” in airstrikes as part of its unprecedented operation inside Syria.
The bombardments came after Ankara suffered its first military fatality since it launched the two-pronged offensive against the Daesh group and Syrian Kurdish militia inside Syria on Wednesday, AFP reported.
At least 20 civilians were killed and 50 wounded in Turkish artillery fire and air strikes on the village of Jeb Al-Kussa early on Sunday, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Another 20 were killed and 25 wounded, many seriously, in Turkish air strikes near the town of Al-Amarneh, it said.
The monitor also said at least four Kurdish militants had been killed and 15 injured in Turkish bombardment of the two areas.
A spokesman for the local Kurdish administration said 75 people had been killed in both villages.
The Britain-based observatory said the bombardment targeted an area south of the former Daesh border stronghold of Jarabulus, which Turkish-led forces captured on the first day of the incursion.
Fighting has since intensified south of the town, where clashes erupted between Turkish troops and forces belonging to the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) Party, which Ankara considers a terrorist group linked with Kurdish militants in Turkey.
US-backed Kurdish forces have also been fighting Daesh in Syria but Turkey fiercely opposes any move by Kurds to expand into territory lost by the terrorists.
Funeral for Turkish soldier
The Turkish soldier was killed and three more wounded on Saturday in a rocket attack by Kurdish militants on two tanks taking part in an offensive against the pro-Kurdish forces south of Jarabulus.
Turkish media named the dead soldier as Ercan Celik, 28, and said a funeral for him was held on Sunday in Gaziantep.
Turkish forces carried out their first airstrikes on pro-Kurdish positions on Saturday as part of what Ankara is calling “Operation Euphrates Shield”.
Turkey says the Kurdish militia – known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) which it regards as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – has failed to stick to a promise to return across the Euphrates River after advancing west this month despite guarantees given by Washington.
Ankara’s military intervention in Syria has added another dimension to the country’s complex multi-front war, a devastating conflict that has killed more than 290,000 people and forced millions from their homes since it began in March 2011.
Germans divided over Merkel serving fourth term
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s domestic popularity has declined, a poll showed on Sunday, with 50 percent of Germans against her serving a fourth term in office after a federal election next year.
A series of violent attacks on civilians in July, two of which were claimed by Daesh, have focused attention on Merkel’s open-door migrant policy, which allowed hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere into Germany last year.
Half of the 501 people questioned in the Emnid poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper were against Merkel staying in office beyond after the 2017 election, with 42 percent wanting her to remain, Reuters wrote..
In November, the last time Bild am Sonntag commissioned a survey on the issue, 45 percent had been in favor of Merkel serving a fourth term, with 48 percent against.
Merkel, asked about her plans for the 2017 election in an interview with regional newspapers published on Tuesday, said: “I will comment on that at the appropriate time. I’m sticking to that.”
300,000 more new migrants
The head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), Frank-Juergen Weise, told the newspaper that he expects a maximum of 300,000 refugees to arrive in Germany this year.
But he said he was confident the number of new arrivals would remain within the estimate.
More than one million migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa arrived in Germany last year.
The German interior ministry says more than 390,000 people applied for asylum in the first six months of this year, but it is not clear how many of these may have arrived in the country in 2015.
Iran to finalize Airbus deal after August
Iran plans to finalize the deal with France’s Airbus on the purchase of aircraft after August.
“A delegation from Airbus will arrive in Tehran by the end of August to finalize the deal which was sealed during President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to Paris in January,” said Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi, Mehr News Agency reported.
According to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Iran and Airbus signed in January, Tehran is expected to acquire 118 civil aircraft from Airbus worth $25 billion.
Akhoundi said Iran hopes to start importing aircraft from France by the end of 2016.
The minister added, “We were waiting for permission from the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and positive news came up.”
The deal will depend on Airbus obtaining US export licenses since more than 10 percent of the parts for the planes are made in the US.
Iran has also signed an MoU with Boeing and both are waiting for OFAC’s allowance to finalize the deal.
Rashidi given emotional farewell in Tehran
Art & Culture Desk
Funeral ceremony for the renowned Iranian actor, director, translator and theater and cinema instructor, Davoud Rashidi, was held in Tehran on Sunday.
The ceremony, which began at Vahdat Hall, was attended by a large number of film directors, actors, actresses, other artists as well as art and cultural officials and devoted fans.
A memorial ceremony was also held in the city of Babol in the northern province of Mazandaran.
Addressing the mourners, Abbas Sajjadi, director of Niavaran Artistic Creation Foundation, talked about the life and works of the prominent artist. Actors Ali Nasirian, Jamshid Mashayekhi and Amin Torokh also extolled their fellow artist.
Rashidi passed away on Friday at the age of 83. His daughter, Leili, who is an actress, said that the award-winning actor had succumbed to a cardiac arrest.
He had long been housebound suffering from the Alzheimer’s for several years.
Born in 1933 in Tehran, the veteran artist had played starring roles in theater, cinema and television productions.
The artist graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Geneva in 1960 and also attended the school of theater in Geneva.
The iconic figure of Iranian cinema had been awarded the first class Order of Culture and Art.
Rashidi was also honored at the closing ceremony of the Fourth Theater City Festival on September 24 at City Theater Hall. He was also commemorated for his scientific and educational activities and role in Iranian theater.
He is the founder of the ‘Today’ Theater Group and among the pioneers of modern theater in Iran, who played an influential role in the post-Islamic Revolution era.
Rashidi starred in numerous cinema movies and television series, including ‘Kamalolmolk’, ‘Hezardastan’, ‘Velayat-e Eshq’ and ‘Atr-e Gol-e Yas’.
He also featured in plays such as ‘Waiting for Godot’, ‘Richard III’, ‘Victory in Chicago’, ‘Minus Two’ and ‘Who is Mr. Schmit?’.
President Hassan Rouhani expressed his condolences on Rashidi’s death.
In a message on Friday, he said that Rashidi played “a valuable role in promoting culture and art” in Iran and his grand and magnificent works had helped him become “an eternal figure in the artistic history of the country”.
The president hoped that the “perseverance and artistry of Davoud Rashidi in creating lasting works would set an example for the young artists of our country”.
Iraq requests new Saudi envoy after assassination remarks
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry requested that the Saudi ambassador in Baghdad be replaced after he claimed that Shia militias are plotting to assassinate him.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal told AP that the government on Sunday sent a formal request to Saudi Arabia to replace the kingdom’s ambassador in Baghdad, Thamer al-Sabhan.
Jamal said Sabhan’s reported comments are untrue and harm relations between the two countries.
Sabhan was quoted as telling the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper that Iraqi intelligence provided him with information about the assassination plans.
He told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel that “sectarian radical groups” are behind the threats.
The envoy added that the kingdom’s policies on Iraq would not change, and Saudi ties with Iraqi politicians were amicable.
“Frankly I tried to fulfill my duties ... Saudi Arabia’s policies in Iraq will not change,” he said. “We have a very amicable relationship with Iraqi politicians that the media does not capture.”
“This is not personal issue. What I said to the media and to all Iraqi politicians in the past is that they are limited because they are under pressure from various sides.”
Iraqi Shia politicians have made persistent requests that Sabhan be expelled in reaction to claims that Shia militia groups were exacerbating tensions with Sunnis.
Iran, Russia ink $1b oil rig deal
An Iranian company signed a deal worth $1 billion with Russian Krasnye Barrikady and to build five offshore drilling rigs for oil and gas exploration in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s Tasdid Offshore Development Company (TODC) signed the deal on Sunday which envisages the construction of the drilling rigs over a two-year period in the port city of Khorramshahr, the company’s Managing Director Ehsanollah Mousavi said, reported Press TV.
The project will be financed jointly by Russia and Iran, and put the Islamic Republic among the countries capable of building drilling rigs.
“According to the timetable, domestic share in the construction of the first drilling rig will be 58 percent. This will gradually rise during the implementation of the project as technology transfer into the country takes place,” Mousavi said.
Krasnye Barrikady officials said earlier that Iran will soon make a 15-percent down payment on the $200 million price of the first rig.
Continued on Page 2
‘New dynamism era’ in Iran-Venezuela ties
Venezuela and Iran agreed to increase economic cooperation, signing agreements between the two countries’ central banks and announcing a new dynamic era in bilateral relations.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday met Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was in Caracas on the last leg of a Latin America tour, which also took him to Cuba, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
“We are advancing in our bilateral cooperation as well as in matters of mutual interest for economic development… we are going to create a new dynamism in Venezuela-Iran relations,” Maduro said in a ceremony broadcast on state television, Press TV reported.
The Venezuelan leader named chief general Jesus Gonzalez as the country’s new ambassador to Iran.
Maduro later announced the creation of a special commission to follow up on their bilateral deals. In June 2015, the Venezuelan government and a high-level delegation from the Islamic Republic of Iran inked six deals on scientific, technological, economic and health cooperation.
Iran and Venezuela have forged friendly relations based on their aversion to colonial US policies and determination to preserve their independence.
Ties with Latin America
Zarif expressed Iran’s interest in broadening cooperation with Venezuela and other Latin American countries, saying he was glad to consolidate economic ties between Caracas and Tehran.
Central bank authorities from the two countries signed an agreement on financial matters, while Venezuelan foreign affairs chief, Delcy Rodriguez, said Caracas and Tehran were working to “continue strengthening” strategic alliances.
“The accord between the two central banks is the path to continue good relations. I am sure that with the accords signed tonight we can increase and deepen our relations in a different field,” Zarif said.
Continued on Page 2