President: Iran has entered fifth wave of pandemic in some provinces
President Hassan Rouhani said in spite of the measures taken by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus, some parts of the country have entered the fifth wave of the pandemic.
Addressing a session of the country’s National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus on Saturday, Rouhani said Iran has begun to experience the fifth wave of the pandemic, though the contagion has not spread countrywide so far, according to Tasnim News Agency.
While all efforts had been focused on containing the mutated variants of coronavirus in the southern and eastern provinces after the UK and Indian strains were spread to the country from the neighboring states, the Delta variant has been reported in the provinces which are far from the borders, Rouhani said.
He warned that the situation has deteriorated compared to the previous weeks.
Despite all supervisory activities and controls along the borders, illegal entries have unfortunately caused the spread of the Delta variant in Iran, Rouhani added.
The president called for strict compliance with the health protocols in high risk cities.
Iran’s Health Ministry on Friday reported a rise in the number of “red” cities across the country, saying that 143 cities are now classified as red – the highest category in the country’s coronavirus risk ranking.
The ministry said on Saturday that 151 people lost their lives to the COVID-19 from Friday to Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 85,694.
It also put the total number of new COVID-19 cases at 3,355,786 after 11,664 people tested positive for the virus in a 24-hour period.
President Rouhani added that about 500,000 Iranians can be vaccinated on a daily basis in the country.
Rouhani noted that there are more than 60 million people over the age of 18, of whom 65% to 70% must be vaccinated in order to break the chain of the spread of the virus.
Iran’s three-month aluminum production rises 30%
Production of aluminum ingot in Iran rose 30 percent during the first three months of the current Iranian year (March 21-June 21), compared to the same period of its preceding year.
The country’s aluminum ingot output stood at 131,376 tons in the three-month period of the present year, while the figure was 101,202 tons in the same time span of the previous year, data released by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) showed, IRNA reported.
The country also produced 55,974 tons of alumina powder during the three months to June 21, marking 11 percent of drop compared to corresponding figure of preceding year which was 62,789 tons.
The report added that 265,488 tons of bauxite were produced in Iran during the said period, showing a 49 percent rise compared to the related output of last year which was 178,366 tons.
Iran produced 446,800 tons of aluminum ingots during the year to March 20, according to statistics released by the IMIDRO.
The figure shows an increase of 61 percent compared to the corresponding figure for last year, which was 277,716 tons.
Based on the data, among the country’s top producers, Iranian Aluminium Company (IRALCO) had the best performance, with an output of over 185,000 tons during the said period.
IRALCO was followed by Hormozal Aluminum Company, with 163,000 tons, South Aluminum Corporation (SALCO) with 72,100 tons, and Iran Alumina, with 25,400 tons.
On April 23, 2020, during the inauguration ceremony of Iran’s biggest aluminum production complex in Fars Province in southern Iran, the former industry minister said the country’s aluminum production is expected to double with that unit going into operation.
The official put the value of the Iranian mining industry’s production at about $22 billion, saying that the country is relatively self-sufficient in minerals and a great amount is also exported every year.
He emphasized the country’s capacities in the sector, saying that Iran ranked 18th among the world’s top aluminum producers, and with this new plant going into operation, the country will climb four ranks to stand at 14th place.
Iran: Borders secure amid reports of Taliban seizure of key crossing
Karzai hails Tehran meeting as
‘effective step toward Afghan peace’
The Iranian Foreign Ministry
affirmed that the country’s
border areas are in full security amid reports about the Taliban’s capturing of a key district in western Afghanistan that includes an important border crossing with Iran.
“Borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are in full tranquility and security due to the zealous border guards of our country, and there is no insecurity on our country’s border with Afghanistan,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Press TV.
Given clashes in Islam Qala and in Sheikh Abu Nasr Farahi crossings inside Afghanistan’s territory, a number of Afghan workers came to Iran, he added.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will take the necessary measures in accordance with the laws and regulations and in line with border agreements with Afghanistan and within the framework of good neighborliness,” Khatibzadeh said.
In relevant remarks earlier in the day, Deputy Chief of the Iranian Army Ground Force’s Operations Brigadier General Farhad Arianfar said full security is maintained along the country’s eastern borders.
He announced this during a visit to Iran’s eastern borders.
“With the Iranian Ground Force’s vigilant presence and efforts along hundreds of kilometers of the eastern borders, as well as the efforts of zealous border guards in the border areas in Sistan and Baluchestan Province and coordination with the dear forces of the Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC), we closely monitor the slightest movements near the borders and will not allow the slightest illegal motion through these
“The southeastern and eastern borders of the country are under 24-hour surveillance and are fully secure,” Brigadier General Arianfar added.
In a statement on Thursday, the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) urged businesses not to send export shipments to two main border crossings with Afghanistan after reports showed that Taliban militants had occupied facilities on the other side of the border.
IRICA spokesman Rouhollah Latifi said trade had been halted through Dogharoun and Mahirood border crossings located along Iran’s eastern border with Afghanistan.
The Taliban militant group said it will try to shortly put back into operation the Islam Qala border crossing in Herat Province.
Islam Qala is the second key border crossing the Taliban have captured since they launched a sweeping offensive in early May.
Border guards return demanded
The Afghan government has demanded that Iran make the necessary preparations for the return of the country’s border guards to Kabul which was accepted by Tehran, Nour News on Friday quoted an informed source at the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces as saying.
“Given its humanitarian approaches, Iran accepted the request and is making preparations for a direct flight to repatriate the [Afghan] border guards,” the source added.
Iran has repeatedly voiced its support for measures aimed at establishing peace in Afghanistan.
Amid the escalation of fighting in Afghanistan, Tehran hosted on Wednesday and Thursday four delegations, including representatives of the Afghan government and parliament, the Taliban group and prominent figures supporting the Republic system in the war-torn country.
The Afghan government’s delegation was headed by former vice president, Yunus Qanuni, while Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, led the Taliban delegation to Tehran.
Over the last week, the Taliban have overrun areas bordering five countries – Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan – amid the US withdrawal of its forces from the country to end its 20-year military intervention, which the White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Thursday has “not been won militarily”.
According to Russia, the Taliban currently control more than two-thirds of the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Moscow has urged all sides of the conflict to show restraint.
In addition, Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai extolled the recent meeting between Afghan government and Taliban delegations in Tehran as “an effective step toward peace in the country”, according to afghanistantimes.af.
He welcomed a joint statement by both parties, who met in Tehran, which called the continuation of war a threat to the country’s security and said that all efforts should be focused on finding a peaceful and political solution.
The former president also thanked Iran for its efforts in organizing and hosting the meeting and hoped that both sides would take more serious and effective steps for the success of the peace process.
At the end of the Tehran meeting, a joint statement was issued that said, “Both sides, with a common understanding of the dangers of continuing the war and the traumas that plague the country, agreed that war is not the solution to Afghanistan’s problems and that all efforts must be made to find a political solution to it.”
In addition, Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the Afghan State Ministry for Peace, has also lauded the talks in Tehran.
“This meeting is about building trust and creating ground for closer bilateral ties between Afghan and Taliban negotiators,” she said.
Anwari added the people of Afghanistan wanted to speed up the talks and reach a conclusion.
Raeisi: ‘There is a way out of Iran’s problems’
President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said he believes “there is a way out of Iran’s problems” in view of his knowledge of the country’s physical and spiritual capacities and efficient workforce as well as its managers’ strong willpower and youths’ capabilities.
He made the remarks in an address to a meeting with senior Iranian clerics, who are members of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom, on Friday, ISNA reported.
Raeisi described the society as an effective community that has taken fundamental steps during its lifetime, be it prior to the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and its fight against the ousted monarchical Pahlavi regime, or after that, through the support it has provided for the Islamic Establishment.
He also praised the country’s senior clerics for the role they have played in enlightening the people before and during the June 18 presidential election.
The president-elect added that his administration has at its disposal a collection of viewpoints and policies, such as the resistance economy strategies – outlined by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, as upstream documents, noting that these policies will be used to draw up plans for transforming the society for the better.
Stressing the importance of appreciating the efforts and services rendered by the country’s former administrations and parliaments, he said that under the present circumstances, where the people are dissatisfied and the elites are concerned, the country can undergo a practical transformation through identifying and prioritizing the problems, hard work and working out solutions.
Raeisi emphasized that people’s trust in the Islamic Establishment must be developed through continuation of the fight against corruption and boosting efficiency.
He also called for greater organizational agility in the country.
Japan’s FM to visit Iran to forge ties with new government
Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is planning to visit Iran to build ties with its new government, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
Motegi is expected to meet his new Iranian counterpart, possibly in mid-August, as Japan aims to strengthen its traditionally friendly ties with Iran and discuss issues related to Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program with the administration of President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, the sources said, according to japantimes.co.jp.
Raeisi is set to be sworn in in early August, succeeding Hassan Rouhani who has served two four-year terms in office since 2013, following his victory in June 18 presidential election.
Motegi’s visit to Iran is expected to be part of a 10-day trip to the Middle East, which will likely also take him to Egypt and Turkey in a bid to help stabilize tensions in the region, the sources said.
It would be the first visit to Iran by a senior Japanese government figure since June 2019 trips by former prime minister Abe Shinzo and ex-foreign minister Taro Kono.
Motegi is also considering visiting the Palestinian territories as Japan looks to offer assistance to reconstruct Gaza following brutal bombing by Israel in May, according to the sources.
In Turkey, Motegi is planning to meet with his counterpart to discuss the COVID-19 response and stability in the Middle East. He is also likely to visit Jordan, Iraq and Qatar.
Israeli forces injure over 400 Palestinians in Nablus
Israeli forces have injured 411 Palestinians during clashes with anti-settlement protesters in the town of Beita and the nearby village of Qusra in the occupied West Bank province of Nablus.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, 23 Palestinians were shot with live ammunition fired by Israeli forces during clashes on Sobeih Mountain in the town of Beita, and Qusra, south of Nablus, Press TV reported.
The injured also included 70 Palestinians who were hit by rubber bullets and 260 others who suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli troops during the clashes.
Over the past two months, Beita has seen intensified clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting against a settlement outpost that has been recently established on the mountain by settlers under the protection of Israeli forces.
To the east of Nablus, Israeli forces attacked a weekly anti-settlement protest in the village of Beit Dajan on Friday, using live ammunition and sound bombs against the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians, including children, suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops at a weekly anti-settlement rally that was held in the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum.
Also on Friday, Israeli forces attacked a protest condemning Israel’s settlement expansion policy and Israeli settlers’ repeated attacks on the Palestinians and their properties in Masafer Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Al-Khalil (Hebron).
The protesters urged the international community and human rights organizations to shoulder their responsibility and protect the Palestinians from the persistent Israeli attacks.
Israeli forces also attacked Palestinians who gathered in Al-Ras area, west of the West Bank city of Salfit, to perform Friday prayers.
Al-Ras area is threatened with seizure by Israel for the construction of a settlement outpost.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Doha, Dubai picked as hosts for Iran-Saudi ties in ACL: Report
Persian Gulf Pro League sides Tractor and Esteghlal will play their Saudi opponents at the AFC Champions League (ACL) round of 16 in Doha and Dubai respectively, according to Mehr News Agency.
Citing Saudi sources, Mehr wrote Esteghlal will take on Al Hilal at the Zabeel Stadium – home ground of Emirati club Al Wasl – on September 13, with Tractor and Al Nassr going head-to-head at Al Sadd’s Jassim bin Hamad Stadium a day later.
Esteghlal and Al Nassr – initially picked as the hosts of the single-leg ties – had been told by the Asian Football Confederation to name neutral venues for their fixtures.
Political tensions between the two Persian Gulf states had seen Iranian and Saudi clubs squaring off in a third country since 2016, before Esteghlal and Foolad Khuzestan flew to Saudi Arabia in April to play their centralized group fixtures of the Asian elite clubs competition in Jeddah and Riyadh.
Also representing Iran in the knockout round will be Esteghlal’s arch-rivals Persepolis, who will face Istiklol Tajikistan.
The Tajik club, the surprise package of the competition, beat Al Hilal to the top spot of Group A in April.
The other last-16 game in the West Zone will see Sharjah and Al Wahda meet in an all-Emirati fixture.
The AFC Executive Committee announced last week that knockout stages of the ACL – from the quarterfinals onwards – will also be decided through single-leg matches, held in a centralized format for the East and West regions.
The final showpiece will take place on November 23 in West region.
The final was to be played through a home-and-away format, but the Asian football governing body was forced to change the schedule due to “existing uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing travel restrictions imposed across the continent,” according to the AFC’s official website.
Tehran-Belgrade ties in best state: Serbian envoy
Serbia’s Ambassador to Tehran Dragan Todorovic on Saturday termed the
relationship between Iran and Serbia “at its best state in history” and said that Belgrade is willing to expand the ties.
In a meeting with Qazvin Province Governor-General Hedayatollah Jamalipour, Todorovic said the two countries are good friends, as they enjoy close ties, IRNA wrote.
He said Serbia doesn’t restrict its ties with Iran to Tehran, adding that the Serbian officials make attempt to expand tourism, cultural, scientific and economic ties with all Iranian cities, including Qazvin city.
Iran, especially Qazvin Province, has a high capacity in tourism industry and Serbia can have close cooperation in this area with Iran, he said.
In the cultural fields, the ambassador said, there are many commonalities between Iran and Serbia, noting that over 130 volumes of Persian books were translated into Serbian language and a lot of Serbs know famous Iranian poets.
According to Todorovic, both countries are working to make a joint film to expand their cultural ties.
Over 1,250 Irish artists set to boycott Israel over mistreatment of Palestinians
Hundreds of Irish artists, including actors, novelists, playwrights, poets, designers, composers, architects, painters, sculptors and filmmakers, expressed solid support for the international anti-Israel movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), and announced that they intend not to perform or exhibit in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) announced that its ‘Irish Artists’ Pledge to Boycott Israel’ has just passed the 1,250 signatory mark, according to Press TV.
The IPSC said the boycott of Israel also means that the cultural workers would not accept any funding from institutions linked to the Tel Aviv regime.
The pledge signed by the artists stated that the boycott would continue “until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights”.
The Irish artists’ pledge was initiated by renowned composer, and IPSC co-founder, Raymond Deane.
It commits signatories to refrain from performing in Israel. The campaign was launched by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in August 2010.
Irish singer and songwriter Damien Dempsey hoped the boycott would encourage young people in Israel who disagreed with the regime to “speak out”.
Musician Donal Lunny said he was taking part to “express solidarity with the Palestinian people”.
When asked about the boycott’s chances for success, Eoin Dillon, a performer with Irish and world music band Kila, said, “It worked in South Africa.”