Rouhani calls for enhanced ties with Azerbaijan
President Hassan Rouhani stressed the need for the promotion of bilateral relations between Iran and its northern neighbor Azerbaijan in all areas.
Rouhani made the remarks in a phone conversation with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday, Press TV reported.
During the conversation, the Iranian president extended congratulations to the Azeri government and nation on the occasion of Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice), which marks the culmination of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
He described Azerbaijan as a “friendly and brotherly” country to Iran, voicing confidence that the amicable ties would further deepen.
The Iranian chief executive highlighted the importance of exchanging visits by officials of the two countries in efforts to expand mutual cooperation.
He also expressed hope for the speedy implementation of the agreements already signed between the two countries.
Aliyev, for his part, said Tehran-Baku ties were growing thanks to the efforts made by the two sides, expressing certitude that the trend would continue.
The phone conversation came shortly after the postponement of a planned trilateral meeting between the two sides and Russian President Vladimir Putin, IFP reported.
The meeting was due to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi today.
“Technical reasons” has been cited as the reason for the change in the plan, and the meeting is to be held at an appropriate time.
Non-oil exports from PSEEZ up 2% despite US sanctions
Domestic Economy Desk
Non-oil exports from the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone (PSEEZ) in southern Iran have witnessed a two-percent growth in terms of weight, year-on-year, since August 23, 2018 despite the reimposition of US unilateral sanctions on the country.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran in two phases. The move was aimed at minimizing Iran’s international trade transactions.
Home to the world’s biggest gas field, PSEEZ is Iran’s energy capital and the hub for the country’s non-oil exports, petrochemicals and gas condensates, IRNA wrote.
According to figures by the PSEEZ’s customs office, over 17.8 billion tons of non-oil goods, valued at $4.5 billion, have been exported from the gas field.
The statistics also indicate that in this period, 5.61 billion tons of gas condensates worth $5.48 billion have been exported from the zone.
The zone’s total overseas sales in the same duration stood at over 23 billion tons.
The director general of PSEEZ’s customs office, Ahmad Pourheydar, put the exact weight of exports from the zone in the said time period at 23.48 billion tons, listing the main export items as methanol, propane, butane, light and heavy polyethylene, gas condensates, ammonia, sulfur, styrene and crude oil.
He noted that the total value of the overseas sales from the zone in this period stood at $9.99 billion.
The export destinations included China, the UAE, South Korea, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and Kuwait.
Gibraltar wants to ease tanker standoff with Iran
Iran: UK shows interest in resolving issue
Gibraltar said on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of the Grace 1 tanker.
“We continue to seek to de-escalate issues arising since the lawful detention of Grace 1,” a spokesman for Gibraltar said. The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, the spokesman said.
British Royal Marines seized the supertanker carrying Iranian oil on July 4 off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU sanctions by taking oil to Syria, which Tehran denies.
Iran called the seizure of the ship “piracy” and warned it would not let the interception go unanswered.
On July 19, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps impounded the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules”.
Iran in touch with Gibraltar
Iran’s port authority said Tuesday it has been in contact with British authorities as part of efforts to secure the release of the tanker.
A court in Gibraltar is to decide the fate of the ship on Thursday, when an order for its detention lapses.
Jalil Eslami, the deputy head of Iran’s port authority, said that Britain had shown an interest in overcoming the problem and documents had been exchanged.
“Efforts from Iran and the port organization have been made for the release of this ship,” he said.
“I hope this problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue its movement with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Reuters and AFP contributed to this story.
Protester blockade triggers second day of Hong Kong airport chaos
Hundreds of flights were cancelled or suspended at Hong Kong’s airport Tuesday as protesters staged a second disruptive sit-in at the sprawling complex, defying warnings from the city’s leader who said they were heading down a “path of no return”.
The new protest came as China sent further signals that the 10 weeks of unrest must end, with state-run media showing videos of security forces gathering across the border, AFP reported.
The crisis, which has seen millions of people take to Hong Kong’s streets, was already the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.
But the two days of protests at the airport, one of the busiest in the world, raised the stakes yet again.
All check-ins were cancelled on Tuesday afternoon after thousands of protesters wearing their signature black T-shirts made barricades using luggage trolleys to prevent passengers from passing through security gates.
Scuffles broke out between protesters and travelers who pleaded to be allowed past.
“I want to shut down the airport just like yesterday so most of the departure flights will be cancelled,” a 21-year-old student said.
On Monday a crowd that police said numbered 5,000 filled the building to denounce what they said were violent tactics by police in trying to quell weekend rallies.
Airport authorities in response cancelled all flights on Monday afternoon.
‘Path of no return’
On Tuesday morning, the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, gave an at-times emotional press conference in which she warned of dangerous consequences if escalating violence was not curbed.
“Violence... will push Hong Kong down a path of no return,” she said.
Lam, who faced fierce questioning from local reporters and at one point appeared to be on the verge of tears, appealed for calm.
“Take a minute to think, look at our city, our home, do you all really want to see it pushed into an abyss,” Lam said, although she again refused to make any concessions to the protesters.
In an interview with the BBC, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor Chris Patten agreed the city was “close to the abyss”.
The protests began in opposition to a bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland, but quickly evolved into a broader bid to reverse a slide of rights and freedoms in the southern Chinese city.
Authorities in Beijing on Monday slammed violent protesters who threw petrol bombs at police officers, linking them to “terrorism”.
On Tuesday state media upped the ante, calling protesters “mobsters”, warning they must never be appeased and raising the specter of mainland security forces intervening. Meanwhile, videos promoted by state media showed Chinese military and armored vehicles appearing to gather in the southern city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
The UN’s rights chief on Tuesday voiced concern over police force used against protesters, and called for an impartial probe.
Turkey, Iran resume train service after four years
Turkey and Iran have restarted a train service between Ankara and Tehran after a four-year hiatus, in a further blow to US sanctions.
Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IRIR) Saeed Rasouli flagged off the Trans Asia Express from Tehran railway station for the Turkish capital which will run on a weekly basis every Wednesday. Carrying passengers and freight, the five-car train takes about 60 hours to arrive in Ankara, Press TV wrote on Tuesday.
The decision to resume the service came in May after meetings between Iranian and Turkish officials. Trains between the eastern Turkish city of Van near the Iranian border and Tehran resumed in late June.
The new service involves two train travel segments and a ferry journey. The IRIR train leaving Tehran will have a layover in the Iranian city of Tabriz before heading to Lake Van in eastern Turkey.
Passengers will then ride a ferry across the lake before taking a train operated by Turkey’s state railway agency to Ankara.
The service marks yet another milestone in burgeoning trade ties between Iran and Turkey whose leaders have dismissed unilateral American sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Washington has been tightening the screws on Tehran’s main source of income, aiming to cut Iran’s oil sales to zero, after President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in November.
According to data released by Tehran Chamber of Commerce Industries Mines and Agriculture on Monday, Turkey imported $2.2 billion worth of goods and services from Iran in the first quarter of the Iranian year which began in March.
The figure marked a five-fold jump compared to the similar period in 2018, it said.
Tehran and Ankara have repeatedly reiterated their resolve to increase annual trade to a target of 30 billion dollar, around triple current levels.
Earlier this year, Iranian Deputy Industry Minister Mohsen Salehinia said Iran and Turkey were negotiating the possibility of setting up joint industrial parks.
“The Turks are demanding cheap Iranian energy for joint production and in case we manage to reach a conclusion with the ministry of energy, a joint town will be set up,” he told a news conference in Tehran.
On Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for expansion of cooperation in various areas in a phone conversation.
Iran is one of the biggest oil suppliers for Turkey, which is almost completely reliant on imports to meet its energy needs. It also imports natural gas from Iran, the country’s second largest supplier after Russia.
Turkey has said it is looking into establishing new trade mechanisms with Iran, like the INSTEX system set up by European countries to avoid US sanctions reimposed last year on exports of Iranian oil.
President Erdogan has previously slammed the sanctions, saying they are destabilizing for the region.
His country is also facing US sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which has seriously strained relations between the NATO allies.
Trump asked Japan PM to buy farm products: Kyodo
US President Donald Trump has directly asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to buy farm products worth a ‘huge amount’, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified Japanese and US government sources.
Japan and the United States have agreed to target a broad deal on bilateral trade by September, seeking to bridge differences of opinion over tariffs on beef and the automobile sector, the Nikkei business daily reported earlier this month.
Trump had requested that Japan buy specific products such as soybeans and wheat, Kyodo reported, adding that the request was separate from the framework of current trade talks between Washington and Tokyo, Reuters reported.
Kyodo said the Japanese government would consider its response and one proposal floated was to purchase the farm products as food support for African countries.
The purchase would be worth several hundred million dollars including transport costs, Kyodo said.
China gets tougher on Trump
According to AP, facing another US tariff hike, Chinese President Xi Jinping is getting tougher with Washington instead of backing down.
Beijing fired what economists called a “warning shot” at Washington by letting its currency weaken in response to Trump’s latest threat of more punitive import duties on Sept. 1. Chinese buyers canceled multibillion-dollar purchases of US soybeans. Regulators are threatening to place American companies on an “unreliable entities” list that might face curbs on their operations.
Both sides have incentives to settle a trade war that is battering exporters on either side of the Pacific and threatening to tip the global economy into recession. But Xi’s government is lashing out and might be, in a revival of traditional Chinese strategy, settling in for prolonged wrangling in response to what it deems American bullying and attempts to handicap China’s economic development.
Negotiators are to meet in September in Washington, but China’s political calendar makes progress unlikely. The ruling Communist Party is preparing to celebrate its 70th anniversary in power on Oct. 1 — a nationalism-drenched milestone that puts pressure on Xi, the party leader, to look tough.
Lampard wants ‘no excuses’ in Super Cup final against Liverpool
Frank Lampard warned his Chelsea players he does not want to hear “any excuses” after today’s Super Cup final against Liverpool.
Lampard endured a tough competitive debut as Chelsea boss on Sunday as his side was beaten 4-0 by Manchester United in a performance that drew criticism for its naivety, Sky Sports reported.
Having qualified by virtue of winning last season’s Europa League, Chelsea faces the daunting challenge of taking on the Champions League holder in Istanbul.
“Going up against the team with the quality of Liverpool in a final is as tense as finals can be,” Lampard told uefa.com.
“Every player in there needs to be aware of the importance of the game to this club and we have to give everything, because it’s going to be tough.
“It’s going to be tough, but we cannot walk off the pitch and think, ‘Oh, we could’ve done that’ or ‘We missed that opportunity’ or ‘We weren’t quite ready’ or make any excuses for ourselves.”
Lampard’s first summer as Chelsea boss has been restricted by a two-window ban on the club signing new players, with the departure of Eden Hazard further intensifying the challenge facing the 41-year-old.
While Chelsea claimed its sole Super Cup trophy in 1998, Lampard lost back-to-back finals during his playing career, as the West London club qualified for the UEFA showpiece in 2012 and 2013.
“We need to be absolutely ready,” Lampard said.
“It’s a cup that the club desperately wants to win. I’ve never won it, a lot of players in there have never won it, so we have to give it everything.
“You can lose finals; they’re very tough. But what you cannot do is lose it on the premise that we weren’t prepared, or we didn’t have that hunger or desire or everything you need to try and win a game of this magnitude.”
Tehran to host 28th Handmade Carpet Exhibition
The 28th edition of Iran Handmade Carpet Exhibition will open its doors to the public at the Tehran International Permanent Fairgrounds from August 25 to 31.
Known as one of the world’s most important and biggest events in the art and industry of handmade carpets, the event will host a score of Iranian and foreign companies active in various parts of the industry, Mehr News Agency reported.
As the sponsor and organizer of this event, the Iran National Carpet Center will provide special facilities and options for foreign businessmen in the field.
A number of business and trade delegations from various countries are expected to visit the exhibition and hold trade talks with Iranian producers and exporters of handwoven carpets.
The event attracts as many as 4,000 visitors each year. The previous edition of the exhibition hosted over 670 producers, export companies and manufacturing units across the country.
Handmade Persian carpets, besides having an excellent position in art and culture, are considered a luxury commodity that has adorned many palaces, museums and private houses around the world.
UN urges reluctant EU nations to help stranded migrants
The United Nations refugee agency urgently appealed to European governments Tuesday to let two migrant rescue ships disembark more than 500 passengers who remain stranded at sea as countries bicker over who should take responsibility for them.
The people rescued while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa are on ships chartered by humanitarian aid groups, which the Italian government has banned from its territory. The archipelago nation of Malta has refused to let the ships into the country’s ports, AP reported.
It’s unclear where they might find safe harbor, even though the Italian island of Lampedusa appears closest. About 150 of the rescued passengers have been on the Spanish-flagged charity ship, the Open Arms, since they were plucked from the Mediterranean 13 days ago.
“This is a race against time,” Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said in a statement. “Storms are coming, and conditions are only going to get worse.”
While the number of migrants reaching Europe by sea has dropped substantially so far this year, UNHCR says nearly 600 people have died or gone missing in waters between Libya, Italy and Malta in 2019.
The agency said many of the people onboard the ships “are reportedly survivors of appalling abuses in Libya.” Cochetel said the ships “must be immediately allowed to dock” and their passengers “allowed to receive much-needed humanitarian aid.”
“To leave people who have fled war and violence in Libya on the high seas in this weather would be to inflict suffering upon suffering,” the envoy said.
The captain of the Open Arms, Marc Reig, sent a letter Monday to the Spanish Embassy in Malta asking Madrid to grant asylum to 31 minors on his ship. A senior Spanish official said Tuesday that Reig’s request carries no legal weight because the captain doesn’t have authority to seek protection for the minors.