Iran, Pakistan say region’s security should be ensured by regional countries
Iran and Pakistan stressed that security in the region should only be ensured by regional countries.
During a meeting between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri and Pakistan’s naval and security officials based in the country’s southern port city of Karachi, both sides discussed various issues including security in the region, IRNA reported.
Both sides agreed that the security of the region should be ensured only by the countries of the region.
The military officials of the two neighboring countries also discussed the importance of navigation security at the common maritime borders and joint military exercises.
They also agreed on providing mutual training in various fields, transfer of maritime experiences, as well as the removal of barriers to the fight against drug smuggling, maritime trafficking as well as the fight against terrorism.
Tehran and Islamabad also agreed to cooperate in the field of manufacturing, repair and maintenance of ships and submarines.
At the head of a high-ranking military delegation, Baqeri arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday at the invitation of the Pakistan Army chief for a three-day visit. It is Baqeri’s second official visit to Pakistan over the past three years, during which he held separate meetings with several political and military officials of Pakistan.
On Thursday, Baqeri, held a meeting with Chief of Naval Staff of Pakistan Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi in Islamabad.
The two commanders talked about issues of mutual interest and the latest status of relations between Iran and Pakistan, including their naval cooperation.
They also discussed maritime security in the region and a wide range of other security developments.
The Iranian top military general on Wednesday held talks with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, where both officials called for bolstering cooperation.
Baqeri said the two nations need to foster their cooperation, including on border security, which has been enhanced significantly in recent years.
Imran Khan said Pakistan is committed to further develop relations with Iran, especially in the economic, military and security sectors.
Earlier in the day, Baqeri held a meeting with Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in the city of Rawalpindi during which the two ranking officers exchanged views on a range of issues including defense ties.
They expressed confidence in the growing trend of military, security and border interactions between Iran and Pakistan in recent years and vowed to advance their contacts.
Iran chief banker urges swift IMF action on loan request
Newly-appointed Governor of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Ali Salehabadi called on the IMF to speed up processing Iran’s request for loans that the country needs to tackle the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Director Jihad Azour in a virtual meeting on Thursday, Salehabadi criticized the IMF for refusing to process Iran’s request for receiving the loans under the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) mechanism apparently because of “America’s illogical pressures,” Press TV reported.
Iran, a founding member of the IMF, put forward its request for nearly $5 billion in loans in the early months of 2020 when the country was hit by one of the largest outbreaks of the coronavirus in the Middle East.
The Iranian government rarely applies for foreign loans but authorities insist the aid is needed as the country’s access to hard currency revenues and its own funds held in other countries has been hampered because of draconian US sanctions.
The United States government claims the secondary sanctions it has imposed on Iran since 2018 after pulling out of an international nuclear deal do not apply to humanitarian assistance.
However, banks around the world hardly process any Iranian request for settlement of trade payments fearing they would face harsh penalties related to the US sanctions regime on Iran.
Salehabadi told Azour that the IMF should treat Iran’s loan case just like similar requests submitted to the Fund by other countries since the start of the pandemic.
“There is a requirement (for the IMF) to consider helping (Iran) reduce the bottlenecks facing the firms and the households,” said the CBI chief.
Iran seeks ‘practical solutions’ to revive JCPOA: FM
Deputy FM says Tehran ready for result-oriented talks
Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian on Thursday said talks with EU deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA were “positive”.
Speaking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone, Amir-Abdollahian said talks with the European Union’s envoy in Tehran on Thursday focused on finding “practical solutions to the impasse in Vienna” where Iran and other JCOPA parties – Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – held six rounds of discussions earlier this year to restore the troubled pact.
He said that “the problems” in Vienna stemmed from an “obligation-evading” approach by the United States to the JCPOA based on which Washington refused to “fully and effectively remove unilateral and illegal sanction” it reimposed and reinforced on Iran after leaving the nuclear deal in 2018.
The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement said the two diplomats “confirmed that the restoration of the nuclear agreement to its original balanced configuration is the only correct way to ensure the rights and interests of all parties involved”.
It added both sides expressed “mutual interest” in resuming negotiations in Vienna “as soon as possible”.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri Kani held talks with Mora to whom he said Iran has always proved to be a “responsible player” in the international arena while the other side has been significantly far from being responsible.
“Whichever party shows more responsibility is closer to the negotiating table,” Baqeri Kani said.
He stressed that Iran is always ready for “serious negotiations” that lead to a “practical agreement”, not a deal on paper.
Baqeri Kani said Iran seriously doubts about “the true will of the US to live up to is commitments” under the deal.
He also criticized the inaction of the European parties to the deal in fulfilling their obligations.
Mora, who coordinated the 2015 text affording Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear activities, said he is ready to cooperate with Tehran and other parties in order to continue negotiations to achieve a result that is acceptable to all sides.
Baqeri Kani and Mora agreed to continue talks in Brussel in the coming days.
A spokesman for the EU foreign policy chief said on Thursday that Josep Borrell is waiting on responses from Washington and Tehran before calling a meeting of negotiators on JCPOA revival.
Peter Stano said Mora’s visit to Tehran was aimed at underlining the “urgency of resuming discussions”.
“We are awaiting the Iranians’ response,” he added, according to AFP.
“Josep Borrell is for his part in Washington where he is meeting with his American counterpart Antony Blinken over the Iranian nuclear accord.
“We shall see the outcome of these discussions,” said Stano.
“A meeting will be called if all parties are in agreement and are all ready,” said Stano. “There is an urgent need to resume discussions very soon.”
Iran’s Foolad Sirjan crowned Asian volleyball clubs’ champion
Iran’s Foolad Sirjan overcame Qatari outfit Al Arabi in four sets to win the 2021 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand on Friday.
Foolad took the opening set 25-19 before Al Arabi bounced back with a 25-21 victory in the second set, but the Iranian club came out victorious in the next two sets 25-23 and 25-22 to bring the trophy to the country for fifth consecutive occasion.
The final showpiece was a repeat of a group phase encounter earlier in the competition, which Foolad also won 3-1.
Burevestnik Almaty of Kazakhstan beat the host’s Nakhon Ratchasima QminC 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-21) for the bronze.
Iranian clubs have won the title 15 times over the 22 editions of the event, with Paykan Tehran being the most decorated side in the history of the competition with seven trophies.
Iran slams UN nuclear agency over Israel’s ‘negligence’
Iran on Friday sharply criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for keeping its eyes trained on the Islamic Republic while ignoring Israel’s nuclear program.
Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear arms possessor, with up to 300 warheads, and, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, AFP reported.
“Silence and negligence about Israel’s nuclear program sends a negative message to the NPT members,” Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi tweeted.
Being an NPT signatory means “accepting the robust verifications”, while being outside it means being “free from any obligation and criticism, and even (getting) rewarded”, he wrote.
“What is the advantage of being both an NPT member and fully implementing the agency’s safeguards?”
Gharibabadi was reacting to an interview given by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to Energy Intelligence earlier this month.
Asked why the IAEA is so focused on Iran’s nuclear program but not Israel’s, he responded that the IAEA’s relation with Israel is based on the one that you have with an entity which is not a party to the NPT.
Iran has been a signatory to the NPT since 1970, the year it came into force, and has always denied that it seeks to acquire or make a nuclear bomb.
Saudi Arabia says talks with Iran ‘cordial, serious’
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has said that talks with Iran had been “cordial,” describing the negotiations as “exploratory,” the Financial Times reported on Friday.
“We are serious about the talks,” bin Farhan told the FT in an interview. “For us it’s not that big a shift. We’ve always said we want to find a way to stabilize the region.”
The two Middle East powers have held four rounds of talks since April, including a first meeting last month with the government of President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in January 2016 after protesters, angered by the kingdom’s execution of a revered Shia cleric, rallied outside Saudi missions in Tehran and Mashhad.
The Financial Times cited an unnamed Saudi official as saying that Riyadh was considering reopening of Iran’s consulate in Jeddah. Riyadh was also considering allowing Tehran to reopen its representative office for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the port city, it added.
Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rule, Riyadh had aggressively pursued a confrontational policy vis-a-vis Iran, but Prince Faisal indicated that his country has changed track, Press TV wrote.
Prince Faisal cited a “confluence of events that made it feel like it was the right moment” to talk to Iran.
Last month, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud expressed hope that Riyadh’s direct dialogue with Tehran would lead to confidence building.
Suicide attack on Shia mosque in Afghan city of Kandahar kills 37
Suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque packed with worshippers attending Friday prayers in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 70, according to a hospital official and a witness.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the carnage at the Fatimiya Mosque in Kandahar Province. It came a week after a bombing claimed by the local Daesh affiliate killed 46 people at a Shia mosque in northern Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported.
Murtaza, who like many Afghans goes by one name, said he was inside the mosque during the attack and reported four explosions: Two outside and two inside. He said Friday prayers at the mosque typically draw about 500 people.
Video footage showed bodies scattered across bloodstained carpets, with survivors walking around in a daze or crying out in anguish.
A local hospital official who was not authorized to speak to the media provided the casualty toll on condition of anonymity.
The Daesh group, which like Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban is made up of Sunni Muslims, views Shia Muslims as apostates deserving of death.
Daesh has claimed a number of deadly bombings across the country since the Taliban seized power in August amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The group, which also regards the Taliban as enemies, has targeted Taliban fighters in smaller attacks.
The Taliban have pledged to restore peace and security after decades of war. Both the Taliban and Daesh adhere to a rigid interpretation of Islamic law, but Daesh is far more radical. It has better-known branches in Iraq and Syria.
The Taliban have pledged to protect Afghanistan’s Shia minority, which was persecuted during the last period of Taliban rule, in the 1990s.
Iran’s Persepolis eyeing ACL semis spot against Al Hilal
A last-four spot at the AFC Champions League (ACL) will be up for grabs when the Persian Gulf Pro League club Persepolis squares off against Saudi side Al Hilal at Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium today.
Persepolis edged past Istiklol of Tajikistan 1-0 – courtesy of a Mehdi Torabi’s late winner in Dushanbe – to book a place in the quarterfinals, while French striker Bafetimbi Gomis and Salem al-Dawsari were on the scoresheet as Al Hilal beat Iran’s Esteghlal 2-0 in Dubai to go through.
The Tehran-based Reds, runners-up in 2018 and 2020, will be looking for a fourth place in the semifinals in five years, however, history will be on Al Hilal’s side in today’s encounter.
Leonardo Jardim’s team, seeking a second title in three seasons, has won three of the previous eight meetings between the two, conceding a single defeat back in 2015.
The last time these two clubs met in the competition was a semifinal two-legged tie in 2017, which the Saudi outfit won 6-2 on aggregate.
Having seen Iranian international center-back Hossein Kan’anizadegan and talismanic midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi part ways with the club following the group campaign in April, Persepolis will count on the leadership of veteran defender Seyyed Jalal Hosseini, as well as Vahid Amiri and Torabi up front – with the latter delivering three goals and four assists in the previous seven outings at this year’s competition.
The biggest worry for Reds’ manager Yahya Golmohammadi, however, will be the lack of competitive football, as his team has had to settle for a couple of friendlies since the mid-September victory at Istiklol.
Al Hilal, meanwhile, will step into the game on the back of a run of three wins and three draws at the Saudi Pro League, which has left them fourth in the domestic table, and will be bolstered by the return of injured marksman Dawsari, though Yasser al-Shahrani and Saad al-Nasser are likely to miss the game with injury.
The 36-year-old Frenchman Gomis goes into the match in impressive form, having netted five goals in his last four games.
The winner of today’s game will play either Al Wahda of the UAE or Saudi club Al Nassr, which will also meet in Riyadh today, on Tuesday.
Sunday’s East zone quarterfinals will see defending champion Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors play in an all-South Korean tie, with Japan’s Nagoya Grampus taking on Pohang Steelers – also from South Korea.
Both matches will be played in Jeonju, South Korea.
Fars Province, cradle of Persian civilization, culture, literature: Raeisi
Compiled from Dispatches
During his visit to Iran’s southwestern province of Fars on Thursday, Iranian President Ayatollah Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said that Fars Province is the cradle of Persian civilization, culture and literature and the effects of this civilization can be seen everywhere in the province.
Referring to his visit to the cultural and historical centers of the province, the president said, “Although the government is focused on the livelihood of the people, it will never neglect the priority of the cultural field,” president.ir reported.
The president said, “During the analysis of the needs and priorities of Fars Province, several half-finished projects in the field of water supply, agriculture, mining, industry and tourism were identified in the province, which have remained idle despite spending financial resources, and the government’s priority is to complete these projects and put them into operation”.
Referring to the ministers’ reports on the plans and programs of their ministries for the province in the meeting of the Administrative Council, Raeisi said, “We emphasize that these issues should be raised in the meeting of the Administrative Council to help create a common feeling among all agencies and let the people know about the government’s plans and programs for their province”.
Saying that Fars Province is a cultural hub and that strengthening this hub is a national and cultural duty, the president said, “This rich culture must be strengthened and passed on to future generations”.
Emphasizing that Fars tourism capacities should be activated more than before, Raeisi said, “Fars Province is also an important hub for agricultural production and the province’s position in the field of agriculture should be strengthened”.
President Raeisi also talked about his visit to the historical and cultural monuments of Fars Province, saying, “Solving livelihood problems should not prevent us from paying attention to cultural issues in any way. In the thirteenth government, the field of culture will never lose its priority”.
Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami, who also paid a visit the province said that Hall of Fame Museum is a great opportunity for Hafezieh (Mausoleum of the great Persian poet Hafez) and could be its complementary, iribnews.ir reported.
The minister added that one of the purposes of his trip was to review civil projects including the museum.
The cultural and tourism center, due to be opened next year, will include busts of world-known figures, to convey the message of peace and friendship, Zarghami added.
Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaeili, who also visited the province, said that united cultural management is the government’s priority and its implementation will lead to serious change in the economics of arts and culture, IRNA reported.
Putin: Daesh terrorists amassing in northern Afghanistan
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said hundreds loyal to the Daesh terror group were building up in northern Afghanistan with plans to move between ex-Soviet Central Asian countries disguised as refugees.
“According to our intelligence, the number of [Daesh] members alone in northern Afghanistan is about 2,000 people,” the Russian president said during a video conference meeting with leaders of other ex-Soviet states, AFP reported.
Putin earlier this week warned of the threat of veteran militants from Iraq and Syria with Daesh links crossing into Afghanistan, while Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it expected the Taliban, which recently gained control of the country, to deal with the threat.
On Friday, he said Daesh leaders in Afghanistan are seeking to project the terror group’s influence across former Soviet states in Central Asia – which Moscow sees as its backyard – to stir up religious and ethnic discord.
“Terrorists are seeking to infiltrate the Commonwealth’s territory, including under the guise of refugees,” Putin said, referring to a group of ex-Soviet countries – some of which border Afghanistan in Central Asia.
The Taliban, which seized control of Kabul from a pro-Western government in mid-August, are seeking international recognition, as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster.
Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told Russian news agency Interfax Friday that Taliban representatives would attend an international conference in Moscow next week alongside regional players Iran, China and Pakistan.
Putin on Friday said there was no need to rush with official recognition of the Taliban but noted that “we understand that we need to interact with them”.
In the 1980s, Moscow fought a disastrous decade-long war in Afghanistan that killed up to two million Afghans, forced seven million more from their homes and led to the deaths of more than 14,000 Soviet troops.