China has warned that the US sanctions recently imposed against a Chinese individual and certain companies over their alleged trading with Iran will harm Beijing’s relations with Washington, urging the US to ‘correct its mistaken policy’.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on Monday that the US action ‘seriously violates the norms of international relations and harms China’s interests’.
“China urges the United States to immediately correct its mistaken policy and revoke these irrational sanctions toward relevant companies and individuals and cease taking actions that harm China’s interests and China-US relations,” the statement further read.
The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on a Chinese businessman and a number of firms based on the allegation that they have sold Iran items banned under the US Arms Control Act and its Export Administration Act.
According to a notice published on the US Federal Register website, the sanctions went into effect on February 5.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Based on the false allegation, Washington and the European Union have imposed several rounds of illegal unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran rejects the allegation and argues that as a signatory to the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The latest US sanctions, announced on February 5, target Iranian oil revenues.
Good News on Abducted Iranian Engineers Soon
Iranian ambassador to Syria says good news will soon be published about two Iranian engineers who were abducted in Syria.
Ambassador Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani made the remarks in an interview with IRNA on Monday.
He stated that helpful information has been attained about the two Iranian engineers, who were kidnapped by militants in Syria, and good news will soon be published about them.
The two men and five other Iranian engineers were kidnapped in the western city of Homs in December 2011 while they were on their way to work on the project to construct the Jandar power plant.
Five of the engineers were set free in October 2012.
On August 4, 2012, 48 Iranian religious tourists, who were traveling on a bus from Damascus International Airport to the shrine of Hazrat Zainab (SA) on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, were also kidnapped by militants.
The abductees were set free in a swap deal between the Syrian government and the armed militants in January.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants fighting the Syrian government are foreign nationals.
In addition, several international human rights organizations say the foreign-sponsored militants have committed war crimes.
Counter-Narcotics Measures Effective
Measures taken by Iran along the borders have forced drug-traffickers to turn to sea routes for smuggling their cargos, Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said on Tuesday.
Speaking in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas, Mohammad Najjar who is also Secretary General of Iran’s Anti-Drug Headquarters, said Iran has taken extensive measures along its eastern and southeastern borders to confront drug-traffickers, Fars News Agency reported.
“Therefore,” he said, “the drug routes have changed towards the sea (borders) and the best necessary measures should be taken in this regard.”
The Iranian police measures along the eastern borders have forced drug-traffickers to resort to other routes, including the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf, to smuggle their drug cargos which originate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Eastern Iran borders Afghanistan, which is the world’s number one opium and drug producer.
Iran’s geographical position has made the country a favorite transit corridor for drug traffickers who intend to smuggle their cargoes from Afghanistan to drug dealers in Europe.
Lieutenant Commander of Iran’s Border Guard Forces General Ahmad Gravand said in October that Iran now has ‘all-out control’ over the country’s borders, specially in the East.
Tehran, Ankara Can Help End Syria Crisis
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said the Islamic Republic and Turkey can play an effective role in restoring calm to Syria, stressing the importance of consultation between Tehran and Ankara.
In a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Cemil Cicek, on the sidelines of the conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO) in Islamabad, Larijani said Iran and Turkey can play an effective role in restoring calm to Syria, stressing the importance of consultation between Tehran and Ankara.
“Iran and Turkey can have a calming role in Syria; particularly in the existing atmosphere, the Zionist regime (Israel) is taking advantage of the developments in Syria,” the top lawmaker said.
“We agree with political reforms in Syria but democracy cannot be established with guns and bayonets,” Larijani added.
Cicek, for his part, said relations between Iran and Turkey are deeply rooted in history, adding that these relations will also be to the benefit of regional countries.
Referring to the Muslim countries in the region, Cicek said that foreign countries take advantage of the developments in these states and disturb the region’s stability.
The Turkish official also said Ankara defends Syria’s territorial integrity, warning that if the conflict in the Arab country does not come to an end, separatist groups would exploit the situation and cause problems for other countries.
In an address to the conference of the PAECO, Larijani asserted the importance of consolidating unity among Muslim nations, expressing the Islamic Republic’s support for democracy in Syria.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran certainly seeks democracy in Syria but democracy will not be established by arms,” he said.
“We have told all parties involved in the Syria unrest that they should resolve issues through ‘political talks’ but we currently witness that the Israeli regime uses the critical situation in the Arab country and bombards regions there,” he added.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says certain western states, especially the United States, and their regional allies are fueling the unrest.
The Majlis speaker further stated that ECO countries enjoy great potentials and capacities to achieve political and economic convergence.
Larijani added that regional pacts and organizations can protect the interests of a region at the current juncture, emphasizing that ECO should make the most of its capacities in this respect.
He stated that ECO member countries are aware of the fact that regional and international crises would affect the body’s global standing. They should use ECO’s potentials for political and security consultation to promote peace and tranquility as prerequisite of sustainable development, the top Iranian parliamentarian explained.
ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic, technical, and cultural cooperation among member states. The organization was expanded in 1992 to include seven new members, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
ECO provides its members with a platform to discuss ways of improving economic development, and promoting trade and investment opportunities.
Boosting Tajikistan Ties
Larijani and his Tajik counterpart have stressed the expansion of bilateral relations between Tehran and Dushanbe in various spheres.
“There are many grounds for cooperation between Tehran and Dushanbe that should be expanded,” Larijani said in a meeting with Shukurjon Zuhurov Islamabad.
Larijani expressed the Islamic Republic’s readiness to implement various projects in Tajikistan, saying, “Iran and Tajikistan can have good cooperation in the fields of water, gas and electricity.”
Zuhurov, for his part, hailed the growing economic ties between Tehran and Dushanbe and stressed mutual cooperation in transportation, particularly railway transport.
Destructive Efforts Slammed
The speaker also met the Chairman of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan Ogtay Asadov during which he lashed out at efforts aimed at disrupting Tehran’s ties with Baku, urging the two countries to further improve mutual relations.
“Iran and Azerbaijan are two friendly and neighboring countries, and relations between the two states should certainly be improved,” he said.
Larijani added that Tehran and Baku have many commonalties and expressed Iran’s readiness to expand relations with Azerbaijan at various levels. The Azeri parliament speaker, for his part, warned against efforts to damage mutual ties and urged both sides to remain vigilant.
He pointed to common religious and cultural values between Iran and Azerbaijan and said the two countries are improving their relations.
32 Countries at ‘Culture...
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Addressing the confab, Homayoun Hamidi, an official at the NCGS said, globalization is a sacred and natural process and, in reality, the world is inching toward unification.
Noting that human beings have effects on the process of globalization and not governments, Hamidi said that ‘the culture and the ways humans live have effects on the process of globalization always’.
He added that cultural interaction between countries especially those represented at the meeting ‘would make a better world’ in the future.
Referring to efforts to draw a roadmap for the ongoing confab, Hamidi said that the meeting would pave the way for ‘regional and global convergence’ and that it is a preparation for the upcoming ministerial meeting slated to be held in Tehran in April. Referring to Iran’s weakness and strength regarding cultural issues, the official noted that such events would provide the country the opportunity to improve the cultural status of the country.
Assadollah Amiri, the cultural attaché of the Afghanistan Embassy in Tehran, also welcomed the subjects discussed in the meeting and said that such issues ‘are rooted in interactions and friendships among human beings’.
He added that respecting other cultures is a key for improving convergence among global communities.
The Afghan official criticized the monopolization of cultural issues by certain counties and dictating it to others.
He noted that Asia is the cradle of many cultures and civilizations in the world so it could be considered as ‘the source of global convergence’. Globalization is an optional process which countries can select and it should not be imposed on states.
Iran Anticipates ‘Positive...
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He said, “Iran announced last year that it has drafted a five-point plan according to the proposals presented by Russia’s Foreign Minister [Sergei Lavrov] in 2011.”
On July 14, 2012, Lavrov laid out a new ‘step-by-step’ approach that would enable Iran to take steps to address the questions raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding its nuclear energy program.
According to the plan, Iran can revive negotiations to allay the concerns of the IAEA about its nuclear activities and be rewarded along the way by a partial removal of sanctions.
“Last month, however, the EU drafted and announced a separate three-stage plan,” Salehi added.
The foreign minister said both plans would be discussed during the upcoming meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in Kazakhstan on February 26 in order to find common grounds.
US Tone Change Not Enough
Commenting on the US offer of talks with Iran, Salehi said Tehran pays no heed to the offer made by US Vice President Joe Biden at the present time but such negotiations (between Iran and the US) would be possible in the future if Washington abandoned its approach of pressure and threat toward Iran.
“Some people might think that the tone of US officials has changed and become more positive, but, from our point of view, it is still not enough,” the foreign minister added.
At the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 2, Biden said Washington was ready to hold direct talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.
However, he noted, “There will be continued pressure and isolation.”
On February 6, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said talks with the United States would not take place under pressure and threats.
Ties With Russia
In an interview with IRNA in Moscow on Monday, Salehi said the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia are determined to expand relations.
Salehi made the remarks, shortly after he arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport.
“The political determination of the officials of Iran and Russia is based on the expansion of ties between the two countries, and [this] can be a good incentive for increasing bilateral cooperation,” the foreign minister stated.
“It goes without saying that the Russian Federation is one of the most important neighbors of Iran,” he said, adding, “Russia is an influential country in the international arena” and also has great influence in the Caucasus region.
“Tehran and Moscow can cooperate on many issues, and, for instance, the two countries’ interactions on Syria are going well.”
He further stated that trade between the two countries should be boosted, since it is currently below the potential.
Salehi is in Moscow to attend the 10th annual meeting of the Russian-Iranian Business Council (RIBC).
The two-day meeting began in the Russian capital on February 11.
The RIBC was set up in 2006 and the two countries have signed documents for expanding economic cooperation in various fields such as nuclear energy, oil, gas, industry and tourism.
Hungary for Expanded Ties
Hungarian Ambassador to Tehran Gyula Pethő said his country is ready to boost cooperation with Iran, particularly in parliamentary fields.