President Rouhani visits flood-hit areas
President Hassan Rouhani said the government will stand beside the people of the flood-stricken provinces where dozens of people lost their lives in last week’s incident.
President Rouhani made the remarks on Wednesday while visiting a village in East Azarbaijan Province which was hit by floods, president.ir reported.
“The disaster, which happened in Chinar village, West Azarbaijan, Ardabil and Kurdistan, has profoundly saddened all Iranians”, he told the people of the flood-stricken village.
He expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in the natural disaster and made assurances that efforts will continue in search of those who went missing.
“Those who have lost their lives in the disaster are not just your loved ones, but our brothers and sisters,” Rouhani said.
The president also said the government will do its utmost to rebuild the houses that were destroyed by the floods and has made necessary decisions to help all those affected by the incident.
President Rouhani further described the process of relief aid operations as satisfactory.
Appreciating efforts by the Red Crescent Society, the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, and all armed forces, he said: “We must not forget each other in hard times and the government will stand by you with all its might.”
“I ordered the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, as well as the Housing Foundation to start rebuilding the houses, which are hit by the floods” he added.
Torrential downpours caused flooding and landslides in four provinces in Iran’s northwest last week, killing a total of 48 people.
The provinces of East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kurdestan, Zanjan and Ardabil were hit by extreme weather.
Heavy rains started on Friday. The surging waters caused rivers to burst their banks and swept away cars and flooded houses.
Lufthansa in talks with Iran Air on catering, maintenance deals
Lufthansa is in talks with Iran Air to provide catering, maintenance and pilot training services as it seeks to take advantage of emerging business opportunities in the country, executives at the German airline group said on Wednesday.
Foreign companies have been vying for contracts in Iran since economic sanctions were lifted last year in return for Tehran’s modification on its nuclear technology development projects, Reuters reported.
“We are in very, very intense discussions, actually almost on a weekly basis,” said Karsten Zang, Lufthansa’s regional director for Persian Gulf, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, at a press briefing in Dubai.
Lufthansa Group subsidiaries LSG Sky Chefs, Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Pilot Training are seeking the contracts with Iran Air whilst the group is also in talks to provide services to other Iranian aviation firms, he told reporters at a company briefing in Dubai.
Iran has signed orders for 200 new Western-built aircraft for Iran Air, taking delivery so far of two new Airbus A330s and an A321.
“We are talking with Iran Air because their new aircraft are coming. They need training, of course, and we have the experience in all of these fields but we can’t give timelines,” Zang said.
“We are hoping this business will pick up because the market as such is a huge market with high potential,” Lufthansa Group’s Senior Vice President for Sales Heike Birlenbach said.
Last year the group axed plans for its budget carrier Eurowings to launch a service to Tehran after deciding the market demand was not there, although its other airlines Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss already fly to Iran.
Leader urges high turnout in upcoming elections
Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called for a massive turnout in the upcoming presidential and council elections in a bid to immune the country against threats.
Addressing army commanders and staff members in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei warned of “hostile attempts” aimed at disrupting the elections, urging the nation to turn out in masse to disappoint the enemies, IRNA reported.
“The enemies make provocations to sabotage the elections. The nation should proceed along in the face of the hostile movement, while maintaining its current awareness so that the elections will be held in a vibrant, passionate, healthy and secure manner,” he said.
The Leader further emphasized, “An election of such nature would lend much security to the country.”
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US: Iran complies with nuclear deal
The Trump administration acknowledged that Iran has been complying with a nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers.
In a letter to US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran remained compliant with the 2015 deal, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Under the deal, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is the first such notification under US President Donald Trump.
“The US Department of State certified to US House Speaker Paul Ryan today that Iran is compliant through April 18 with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Tillerson said in a statement.
“President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States,” Tillerson added.
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Zarif: No limit to expansion of Iran-Kyrgyzstan ties
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrapped up a visit to three Central Asian countries on Wednesday after holding talks with Kyrgyz senior officials about ways of broadening bilateral relations in various areas on the last leg of his tour.
Zarif headed a 20-member delegation of businessmen and company representatives from Iranian public and private sectors during the three-nation tour, which has also taken him to Turkmenistan and Georgia.
The first two visits featured three crash-course political and economic meetings, Press TV wrote.
The top Iranian diplomat arrived late Tuesday in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, where he attended a joint economic meeting with Iranian and Kyrgyz businessmen in attendance.
Zarif said at the meeting that after President Hassan Rouhani’s “very successful” trip to Kyrgyzstan last December, which witnessed the signing of several documents between the two nations, “the ground is well prepared for the expansion of bilateral cooperation.”
“We know no limit to the enhancement of ties with Kyrgyzstan, and we are ready for bolstering our cooperation in all spheres,” he added.
The Iranian foreign minister also expressed hope that the agreements arrived at between the Central Banks of Iran and Kyrgyzstan would contribute to their private sector activities.
Speaking on a different note, he said, “While the threat of extremism and terror menaces the region and the world, cooperation, cultural promotion and tolerance are among the most important methods of confronting” the scourges.
On Wednesday morning, Zarif met with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Erlan Abdyldaev, to explore ways of promoting “comprehensive cooperation,” particularly in the economic sector.
The senior Iranian official later sat down for talks with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.
During the talks, the Kyrgyz head of state called for closer economic relations between Tehran and Bishkek, saying efforts must be made to remove the obstacles to bilateral trade.
Zarif, in turn, stressed the need for more cooperation in the area of economy as well as joint efforts against terrorism and extremism.
The tour took place at the invitation of the respective countries’ top diplomats on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the republics’ independence from the Soviet Union.
Kuwait: Iran may keep same oil output
Iran will probably be allowed to keep its oil production unchanged if OPEC decides to extend its six-month agreement on output cuts beyond June, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Issam Almarzooq said.
“I think they will keep the same level if the deal is extended,” Almarzooq, who chairs the committee monitoring the cuts, said on Wednesday in an interview in Abu Dhabi, Bloomberg reported.
Kuwait was the first country to call for extending the production cuts beyond June. Oil prices will increase as demand improves, chipping away at oil inventories in the second half, he said.
Iran was allowed to increase its output under the deal as the nation rebuilds from international sanctions that crippled its energy industry. Since sanctions were eased in January 2016, Iran’s oil production has climbed 35 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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World-famous Persian poet Sa’di to be commemorated
Compiled from Dispatches
Tributes will be paid to the great Persian poet Sa’di Shirazi in a ceremony at his tomb in Shiraz, Fars Province on April 21 which is observed as National Sa’di Day.
There are several programs to commemorate the world-famous Persian poet Sa’di. President Hassan Rouhani will attend the ceremony in Shiraz on April 20 and 21 to speak about the poet.
Among the programs are appreciating a number of Sa’di experts.
Meanwhile, a number of Iranian and Tajik literati are to gather at the Tajikistan Academy Theater of Lakhuti in Dushanbe today to commemorate Sa’di.
The guests are to discuss Sa’di’s role in the development of Persian literature in Tajikistan, the Iranian cultural attaché’s office in Dushanbe said in a press release on Friday.
Scholars attended a seminar in Tehran on Sa’di and prominent French poet and novelist Victor Hugo.
Tehran’s Book City Institute hosted a meeting on Sa’di and Hugo (1802-1885) in on April 18 and 19. Director of the Iranian Academy of Persian Language and Literature Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, delivered a keynote speech at the event.
Iranian literati, including Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi, Ahmad Samiei Gilani, Fatemeh Eshqi, Tahmoures Sajedi, Fereydoun Majlesi, Asghar Nouri and French scholar Jean-Marc Hovasse spoke about the two prominent poets at the event.
The event was organized jointly by Sa’di Foundation in Tehran and Iran’s cultural office in France, as well as the Paris Diderot University to commemorate Sa’di National Day. Victor Hugo is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers.
Iranian carpet on UN wall
Also on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recounted the story of an Iranian carpet adorned with a famous poem by Sa’di on a wall of the United Nations headquarters.
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British Parliament backs PM plan for snap election
Prime Minister Theresa May won Parliament’s backing for an early election on Wednesday, a vote she said would strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union and help heal divisions in Britain.
May surprised allies and opponents on Tuesday when she announced her plan to bring forward an election that was not due until 2020, saying she needed to avoid a clash of priorities in the sensitive final stages of the two-year Brexit talks.
After addressing a rowdy session of the House of Commons, May won the support of 522 lawmakers in the 650-seat Parliament for an election on June 8, an easy victory for the prime minister who could see her majority increase by at least 100 seats in the poll, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“I believe that at this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, not division,” May told Parliament.
“A general election will provide the country with five years of strong and stable leadership to see us through the negotiations and ensure we are able to go on to make a success as a result, and that is crucial.”
The former home secretary, who became prime minister without an election when her predecessor David Cameron quit after last year’s referendum vote for Brexit, enjoys a runaway lead over the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.
A victory would give May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the EU – a prospect that has strengthened the pound.
May formally notified the European Union on March 29 of Britain’s intention to leave, and has said she is confident of reaching a deal on the terms of withdrawal in the two years available.
She said on Tuesday she had “reluctantly” come to the decision to call for an early election because of political divisions in Westminster, criticizing opposition parties for trying to thwart her plans for leaving the EU.
“What do we know that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Scottish Nationalists have in common?” she asked Parliament.
“They want to unite together to divide our country and we will not let them do it.”
Le Pen hardens tone as campaign clock ticks down
Far-right presidential frontrunner Marine Le Pen said Wednesday that French people felt “dispossessed” in their own country as she stressed the threats of immigration and terrorism in the final days of campaigning.
The 48-year-old former lawyer has spent years trying to broaden support for her National Front party, but she has signaled a return to the core concerns of many of her supporters in recent speeches, AFP reported.
Speaking on BFM television on Wednesday, Le Pen emphasized how she would pull France out of the European Union, slash immigration, make it harder to get French nationality and crack down on suspected terrorists.
“French people have the feeling of being dispossessed of their identity, of their social security system and their sovereignty,” Le Pen told the channel.
Polls show a four-way race developing ahead of the first round of the election on Sunday between Le Pen, 39-year-old centrist Emmanuel Macron, conservative Francois Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon. Two of them are expected to advance to a run-off vote on May 7.
After a string of terrorist assaults in France since 2015, security concerns moved to the center of the campaign Tuesday following the arrests of two French men suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the election. Le Pen has proposed expelling any foreigner convicted of a crime or suspected of being radicalized. Convicted extremists with dual nationality would also be stripped of their French passports.
“The measures that I want to put in place would mean that many of these people would not have been on our territory or living freely,” she told BFM, repeating a claim from a speech on Sunday night.
French voters have so far been more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, polls show, though analysts warn this would change quickly in the event of violence.
The two arrested suspects, who were found in Marseille with a cache of weapons and explosives, were being questioned in the southern city on Wednesday where Le Pen is set to appear later at a rally.
Left-leaning Le Monde newspaper warned that Le Pen’s claim that she would have prevented attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives was “absurd”.
“You don’t seek votes on the backs of dead people. It’s a sort of moral red line,” the newspaper said.
Some analysts have also depicted the French election as a sort of referendum on the European Union, with Le Pen proposing to pull France out of the 28-member club and scrap the euro common currency.
On Tuesday night, she insisted that the TF1 television channel remove the blue-and-yellow European flag from behind her before an interview.
But Melenchon, her Eurosceptic far-left opponent, sought to soften his position on Tuesday night, stating that he did not seek to end the European Union or the euro despite criticizing the “ultra-liberal” trading bloc for years.
“Don’t believe what they tell you, ‘He wants to leave Europe, the euro’... let’s be serious,” he told supporters on Tuesday night.
The Communist-backed candidate has pledged to renegotiate some of the founding treaties of the bloc, however, which would cast serious doubt on the viability of the postwar project of integrating the continent.
Polls show that a majority of French people still support the EU and the euro.
Quality of Iran’s laboratory services comparable with advanced nations
By Sadeq Dehqan
An Iranian specialist hailed the quality of clinical laboratory services in Iran, saying it is in the level of very ‘good laboratories’ in developed countries.
Mehdi Boutorabi, who will chair the 10th International and 15th National Congress on Quality Improvement in Clinical Laboratories, made the remarks in an interview with Iran Daily.
The international event will be held during April 20-23 in Tehran.
Boutorabi, who specializes in clinical laboratory sciences, noted that clinical laboratories play a ‘very important’ role in improving public health.
He said many medical diagnoses are dependent on laboratory tests.
“Over 70 percent of the diagnosis work pertaining to emergency patients can be carried out through laboratory tests,” the specialist said.
He touched upon the large number of clinical laboratories in Iran noting that over 5,000 of these centers are currently active nationwide.
Boutorabi said many countries have integrated laboratories to cut costs and make optimal use of revenues.
He noted that plans have been launched in Iran in the past two years to integrate small laboratories into bigger ones.
The specialist said ‘low tariffs’ of laboratories hinder efforts to equip these centers with modern technology. “Due to low tariffs, Iranian laboratories do not have adequate earnings to update their capabilities and benefit from the required modern technology,” he said.
Boutorabi said the 10th International and 15th National Congress on Quality Improvement in Clinical Laboratories aims to promote clinical laboratory services.
He said the international event would be the largest congress in the field of laboratory sciences ever held in Iran.
The specialist said about 3,500 Iranian experts and over 50 experts form Canada, Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Pakistan, India, South Korea, Italy and Sweden are to take part in the congress.
Iranian cueist snatches bronze in Lebanese tournament
Iranian billiard player Mohammad Ali Pordel exhibited commendable skills at Lebanon 9 Ball International Open Championship and snatched bronze at the end of the tournament.
On Tuesday evening, Pordel suffered a close 10-11 defeat in his individual contest against a contestant from the host nation in a semifinal match played in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut to finish in the third place, Press TV reported.
Pordel had earlier overcome representatives from Lebanon, Egypt and the UK to secure a place among the top four billiard players.
The Lebanese tourney started on April 13 and finished on April 18.
The meet brought together a total of 125 cueists from Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, the UK and Venezuela.
Billiard players Mohammad Pordel and Ali-Reza Vahab represented Iran in the championship.
China’s Xi restructures military, consolidates control
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a military restructure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to transform it into a leaner fighting force, with improved joint operations capability, state media said.
Centered around a new, condensed structure of 84 military units, the reshuffle builds on Xi’s years-long efforts to modernize the PLA with greater emphasis on new capabilities including cyberspace, electronic and information warfare, Reuters reported.
As chair of the Central Military Commission, Xi is also commander-in-chief of China’s armed forces.
“This has profound and significant meaning in building a world-class military,” Xi told commanders of the new units at the PLA headquarters in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua news agency report late on Tuesday.
All 84 new units are at the combined-corps level, which means commanders will hold the rank of major-general or rear-admiral, the official China Daily reported Wednesday, adding that unit members would likely be regrouped from existing forces given the Chinese military was still engaged in cutting its troops by 300,000, one of the wide-ranging military reforms introduced by Xi in late 2015.
Those reforms include establishing a joint operational command structure by 2020 and rejigging existing military regions, as well as streamlining troop numbers, particularly in non-combat facing roles.