Tractorsazi sinks Al Jazira 4-0
Bakhtiar Rahmani bagged a brace as Iran’s Tractorsazi Tabriz secured a comfortable 4-0 victory over Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates in Group C of the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
Tractorsazi got its continental campaign off to the perfect start at Yadegar Emam Stadium when Rahmani put the team in front within five minutes before Shoja Khalilzadeh headed in a second on nine minutes, the-afc.com wrote.
The Iranians continued in the ascendancy after the interval with substitute Mehdi Sharifi adding a third nine minutes in and Rahmani netting his double as the hour-mark approached as Tractorsazi moved to the summit of the standings following Pakhtakor and Al Hilal’s 2-2 draw in Wednesday’s other Group C encounter.
Tractorsazi opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Farzad Hatami headed back Mohammad Iranpourian’s cross from the right for midfielder Rahmani to drill into the back of the net from 12 yards.
And the Iranians then doubled their advantage five minutes later when Soroush Rafiei’s corner from the left was powerfully headed home by defender Khalilzadeh from the edge of the six yard box.
But Al Jazira could have pulled one back 15 minutes in when Kenwyne Jones blazed over from just inside the area before Tractorsazi goalkeeper Mahammad Reza Akhbarishad tipped over Thiago Neves’s in swinging corner shortly after.
Jones then thought he had pulled one back seven minutes after the restart only for his goal to be ruled out for offside before Sharifi’s effort down the other end soon after was cleared of the line by Yaquob Al Hosani.
But from the ensuing throw-in Khaled Shafiei’s header was blocked on the line by Salim Rashid, but after goalkeeper Ali Khaseif was down quickly to thwart Hatami on the rebound Sharifi was on hand to bundle home at the back post.
Tractorsazi then put the result beyond any doubt just before the hour when Rahmani robbed dwindling defender Fares Juma 30 yards from goal and raced through to coolly dispatch past Khaseif from the edge of the area for his second of the afternoon.
And Sharifi should have added a fifth in the dying seconds after being played through by Hatami but he chipped over under pressure from the outrushing Khaseif.
Oman backs Iran in Saudi oil output row
Oman has lent weight to Iran in a row over a Saudi proposal to freeze oil output at current levels, saying the Islamic Republic must be exempted from the plan.
Saudi Arabia, which pumped 10.2 million barrels daily in January, wants major producers to cap their output at existing levels at a time when Iran is ramping up production to claw back market share it lost under sanctions, Press TV reported.
Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammad bin Hamad bin Saif al-Rumhi said sanctions have harmed Iran’s exports and the country had a right to increase output.
On Tuesday, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he hoped producers would meet in March to negotiate an output freeze as he ruled out production cuts.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela proposed the freeze that would cap production at January levels.
“Given the damage Iran’s oil exports have suffered as a result of Western sanctions, the country can be exempted from a possible OPEC agreement on freezing production,” Mehr News Agency on Wednesday quoted Rumhi as saying.
“One solution is that Iran is allowed to rebuild its production; any decision in this regard is up to OPEC members to make,” he added, according to the news agency.
Rumhi also said his country was ready to cut production by 10% if an agreement was reached. “Oman is not an OPEC member but it is ready to go along with OPEC,” he added.
On Sunday, Nigerian Minister of State, Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Kachikwu also said Iran must be given a way out to regain some of its lost market share due to sanctions.
“Countries like Iran and Iraq have been out of the market for a while and if they are to come back, you shouldn’t freeze them out where they are, you should freeze them at a higher level,” Kachikwu said in Doha, Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, however, has said any agreement was contingent on all other producers agreeing to a freeze. On Tuesday, Naimi reiterated the position.
“Freeze is the beginning of a process, and that means if we can get all the major producers to agree not to add additional balance, then this high inventory we have now will probably decline in due time,” he said in Houston, Texas.
Analysts have expressed skepticism that Saudi Arabia is even capable of producing more than it is today. Moreover, an output freeze will not reduce the existing glut and will have no impact on prices.
Iran is seeking to increase output by one million barrels a day this year after sanctions on its oil industry were lifted last month. The country’s production has slumped since sanctions were imposed on its exports.
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on Tuesday dismissed the output freeze “a joke” which puts “unrealistic demands” on Iran.
“Some countries that are producing above 10 million barrels per day have called on Iran to freeze its production at one million bpd,” he said.
Leader: Elections would display people’s power
President urges high turnout in polls
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday underlined the significance of voting in the Friday elections, saying it would display people’s power despite different kinds of pressures, cruel sanctions, and propaganda against Iran.
The Leader also assured that the Iranian nation will be the ultimate victor despite all the efforts made by the enemy, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The results of upcoming elections, whatever they would be, would be in the benefit of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei said, stressing whether the Iranian people make good or bad choices, the outcome would go back to themselves.
The Leader stressed that Iran’s enemies have resorted to various tricks to influence votes in Iran in the past decades but have now realized that explicit remarks on elections would have opposite effects.
During the past 37 years, the enemy has plotted against Iran’s elections, trying to discourage people from going to the polls, the Leader said in an address to a group of people in Tehran.
The enemies tried to convince the Iranian people that their presence at the ballot boxes is futile since the results are already clear before the elections are held, Ayatollah Khamenei said about schemes in recent decades to put the people off the polls.
“At certain times, American officials even adopted clear stances (on Iran’s elections),” the Leader noted, adding, however, that the US has now realized by experience that explicit positions would backfire.
“Americans are accordingly keeping silent on these (upcoming) elections, but their agents and mercenaries are trying to employ new tricks,” the Leader warned.
Also on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the nation to have a strong presence in the upcoming elections.
Addressing a ceremony to mark the establishment anniversary of Iran’s national flag carrier, Iran Air, he said people are well-informed about the election hopefuls, IRNA reported.
He said the people who managed to cut off the hands of colonial powers from their land and then gained independence for the country through their Islamic Revolution have enough knowledge to identify the best candidates.
The Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections will be held simultaneously on Friday.
There are currently 290 seats in the Iranian Parliament and the lawmakers are elected by direct vote of people for four years.
The Assembly of Experts is also a high-ranking body that elects and oversees the activities of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.
Members of the assembly are directly elected to office by people for an eight-year term. It holds biannual meetings to appoint a new chairman.
Iran says will hold talks with Boeing
Iran’s Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan said the country plans to start talks with Boeing to purchase planes from the world’s largest aerospace company.
Fakhrieh Kashan said the Boeing Company offered to negotiate with Iran two days ago, adding that the country will hold talks with the US-based company on buying aircraft, Tasnim News Agency reported. Commenting on the types of aircraft, he said basically the Islamic Republic will opt for Boeing 737, which is proper for Iranian airlines.
In a statement on Friday, Boeing announced the US has given the green light for the American multinational corporation to explore opportunities in Iran’s airplane market following the termination of anti-Tehran sanctions.
“We have applied for and received a license to assess the current commercial passenger airplane needs of US government-approved Iranian airlines,” Boeing said at the time.
Boeing’s license marked a step toward catching up with European rival Airbus, which last month agreed to sell 118 planes to Iran.
There has been growing international interest in trade ties with Iran since Tehran and world powers clinched a nuclear agreement in 2015. The nuclear deal terminated all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran after coming into force.
Swiss president to visit Iran Friday to expand ties
Swiss President Johann Schneider will visit Iran on Friday to expand Bern-Tehran relations in economic and political fields.
Swiss presidential office said in a statement on Wednesday that Schneider will lead a big economic and scientific delegation to Iran, IRNA reported.
President Schneider will review issues such as regional security and immigration, human rights as well as education, research and innovation.
The statement said that promotion of economic relations, inaugurating of financial systems to ease mutual economic affairs and talks with senior Iranian officials in the context of joining the World Trade Organization and cooperation with the international organizations will be on agenda.
The Swiss president will deliver a lecture to the students and the academic board of University of Tehran on economic and political issues.
A 40-member delegation comprising presidents of major Swiss companies will accompany the president.
Iran-Switzerland relations date back to the 17th century.
In April, a senior Swiss economic delegation led by former Swiss ambassador to Tehran Livia Leu traveled to Iran.
French special forces in Libya ‘secret war’
French special forces and intelligence commandos are engaged in covert operations against Daesh terrorists in Libya in conjunction with the United States and Britain, the French newspaper Le Monde reported on Wednesday.
It said President Francois Hollande had authorized “unofficial military action” by both an elite armed forces unit and the covert action service of the DGSE intelligence agency in the conflict-ridden North African state, which has two rival governments and largely ungoverned desert spaces, Reuters reported.
What Le Monde called “France’s secret war in Libya” involved occasional targeted strikes against leaders of the terrorist group, prepared by discreet action on the ground, to try to slow its growth in Libya.
The Defense Ministry declined comment on the substance of Le Monde’s story but a source close to Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he had ordered an investigation into “breaches of national defense secrecy” to identify the sources of the report.
Hollande said that France was at war with Daesh terrorist group after it claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national soccer stadium in Paris on Nov. 13 last year, killing 130 people.
The ministry has previously confirmed that French aircraft recently conducted reconnaissance flights over Libya, where France took a leading role in a 2011 NATO air campaign that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s autocratic rule. It has also confirmed that France has set up an advance military base in northern Niger on the border with Libya.
US warplanes struck a Daesh training camp in Libya last Friday in attacks that killed nearly 50 people including two Serbian Embassy employees abducted last November, according to Serbia’s prime minister.
Putin discusses Syria cease-fire with Assad, Rouhani, Salman
Russian President Vladimir Putin held telephone conversations on cease-fire in Syria with the presidents of Syria and Iran and the Saudi king on Wednesday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Putin that his government was ready to assist in implementing a cease-fire in Syria, the Kremlin and the Syrian presidency said.
The United States and Russia announced plans on Monday for a cessation of hostilities in Syria, excluding Daesh and Al-Nusra Front terrorists, that would take effect starting on Saturday, Reuters reported.
Putin said at the time that the cease-fire agreements between Moscow and Washington were a real step toward halting the bloodshed and can be an example of action against terrorism.
Putin and Assad stressed the importance of a continued “uncompromising” fight against Daesh, the Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups “which are included in the respective list of the United Nations Security Council”, the Kremlin said.
The Russian president and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also agreed to work jointly for a peaceful settlement of the Syria crisis, the Kremlin said.
The two leaders agreed on the need to continue the decisive fight against Daesh, the Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations included in the United Nations Security Council sanctions list, the Kremlin said.
Putin also talked to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, explaining to him the essence of the Russian-US joint statement on Syria.
“Putin explained in detail the essence of the Syrian settlement proposals put forward in the joint statement of Russia and the United States,” according to the Kremlin report, ITAR TASS reported.
“The king of Saudi Arabia welcomed the reached agreements and expressed readiness to cooperate with Russia for their implementation”, the Kremlin said.
The sides agreed to continue contacts on this matter.