Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr has praised Iran as an undeniable power in the Middle East and called for Tehran’s involvement in resolving the crisis in Syria.
Amr said on Friday that Iran is a ‘regional power that no one can ignore’.
The Egyptian foreign minister added that diplomatic solution is the sole path to resolve the turmoil in Syria and avoid a major catastrophe in the country, Press TV reported.
Amr pointed out that that Egypt seeks to develop an initiative that involves the mediatory role of Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia in resolving the Syrian crisis.
He expressed Egypt’s opposition to any military solution with regard to Syria, saying the military option ‘will only lead to further destruction and bloodshed’ in Syria.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 and tens of thousands of people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil.
The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
Damascus blames western countries and some of their regional allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming the opposition and fueling crisis in the country.
According to a UN report, militants from nearly 30 countries are in Syria to fight against the Damascus government, most of whom are extremist Salafists.
Several international human rights organizations have accused foreign-sponsored insurgents of committing war crimes.
Iran repeatedly rejected foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs, calling for national dialog as the only way out of the country’s prolonged impasse.
The Egyptian foreign minister also called on Tehran and Cairo to remain committed to certain requirements in the course of resuming their ties.
Iran severed ties with Egypt after Cairo signed the 1978 Camp David Accord with the Israeli regime and offered asylum to Iran’s deposed monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
US Talks Offer Unrealistic
The Iranian ambassador to Italy says Washington’s recent proposal for direct talks with Tehran is totally unrealistic.
“[US President Barack] Obama’s proposal to hold talks with Iran is inconsistent with the facts, and the hostile actions of the Obama administration have also exceeded those of the [George W.] Bush administration,” Ambassador Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in Rome, IRNA reported on Friday.
He added that Washington must ‘prove its good faith in practice and stop its anti-Iran moves’ if it wants to enter into direct talks with the Islamic Republic. Over the past few years, the United States has taken a number of anti-Iran measures, i.e., about 27 executive orders and directives and congressional acts, Hosseini recalled.
The Iranian ambassador also rejected Washington’s claims that its unilateral sanctions, which have affected the import of pharmaceuticals and food to Iran, do not target the Iranian people.
At the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 2, US Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was ready to hold direct talks with Iran on the country’s nuclear energy program.
However, he noted that ‘there will be continued pressure and isolation’, insisting that if Iran abandons ‘the illicit nuclear program’ and ‘support for terrorism, there will be meaningful incentives’.
In a strong response, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei dismissed the idea of talks with the US under pressure and threats.
“I am not a diplomat. I am a revolutionary and speak frankly, honestly, and firmly. An offer of talks makes sense only when the side [that makes the offer] shows its goodwill,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with officials and commanders of the Iranian Air Force in Tehran on February 7.
“You (the Americans) point the gun at Iran and say either negotiate or we pull the trigger! You should know that pressure and negotiations don’t go together and that the [Iranian] nation will not be intimidated by such things,” the Leader added.
On February 6, the US imposed new sanctions on Iran’s energy sector in a new attempt to force the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear energy program.
The illegal US-engineered sanctions on Iran have been imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
Embassy Employee Freed by Spain
Iranian Ambassador to Madrid said Spain has released an employee of Iran’s Embassy who was detained on ‘unfounded’ allegations of espionage.
Morteza Saffari said on Friday that the Iranian Embassy had worked for the release of Mr. Rezaeian, who was arrested by the police the previous night, Press TV reported.
The Iranian envoy added that no other employee of the embassy had been arrested.
The Spanish Interior Ministry said police had arrested three men, including a staff of the Iranian Embassy, in Madrid on suspicion of involvement in espionage.
Saffari stated that allegations of having links to a spying network leveled against the employee were ‘unfounded and false’.
Spain’s police pursue other objectives by creating such a ‘fake scenario’, Saffari added.
The information department of Iran’s Embassy also rejected the ‘unrealistic’ accusations by the Spanish police, and said the police sought to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic.
FM to Attend UNAOC Forum in Austria
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will leave for the Austrian capital, Vienna, to participate in the 5th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Global Forum.
The two-day forum is set to open in Vienna on February 27, ISNA reported on Saturday.
The UNAOC was established in 2005 at the initiative of the Spanish and Turkish governments and under the auspices of the UN.
The alliance pursues the purposes of improving understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions. It also helps to counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism.
The UNAOC meetings have been held in Doha, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Madrid.
The Global Forum is the Alliance’s highest-profile event. Decision-makers, experts, and a variety of stakeholders in the field of intercultural and interreligious dialog from all over the world are scheduled to attend the event.
The Vienna forum will focus on the promotion of Responsible Leadership in Diversity and Dialog.
No Legal Basis for Ban on Iranian Channels
A human rights activist said the move by the European satellite provider Eutelsat to pull the plug on several Iranian channels is entirely illegal.
“I think what is behind it is some authoritarian personality in the United States of America and/or Paris, and/or London, who are thoroughly debased in their thinking, who have not the slightest trace of liberal values at all,” William Spring said, Press TV reported on Friday.
He further stated that although it is clear that banning Iranian media has no legal basis, getting this message across to European governments and the European courts is extremely difficult.
“I made an application for an injunction [and] judicial review in UK courts, when they first took Press TV off the air and they, basically, did not appear to want to listen to legal arguments at all,” Spring added.
The activist also noted that the authoritarian personality in Europe permeates the thinking of the British, French and American establishments which say under no circumstances must free speech be allowed and it must be discouraged.
“This is a great disaster from the point of view of Britain, America and France. We would not be in this terrible nonsense in Syria supporting Al-Qaeda and supporting the Saudis in their attempt to wreck Syria if we had proper debate on the BBC, on the ITV and on the Sky; but we do not get that debate,” the analyst explained.
On Wednesday, the Arab satellite provider Gulfsat banned Iranian channels iFilm and Al-Kawthar under direct pressure from the European satellite company, Eutelsat.
The fresh encroachment upon freedom of speech targeting movie channel, iFilm, and Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Kawthar came one day after Eutelsat, owned by Franco-Israeli Michel de Rosen, asked Nilesat to take Press TV off the air.
Russia, China Stress Diplomacy on Nuclear Issue
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized resolution of Iran’s nuclear issue through diplomatic means.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow on Friday, Lavrov asserted that Moscow and Beijing are in consensus that all Middle East’s problems, including Iran’s nuclear case should be resolved through diplomatic process based on international rules and regulations as well as the United Nations (UN) Charter, IRNA reported.
“We are against outside interference in countries’ internal affairs and the use of force to solve Middle East’s problems,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Russia and China share the same positions… on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, including the Syrian crisis, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program and other issues, Lavrov said at a joint news conference with his Chinese counterpart.
Taking similar position, Chinese foreign minister, for his part, noted that Beijing supports continuation of talks between Tehran and P5+1--United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany--to resolve the remaining issues.
Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany have held several rounds of talks on Iran’s nuclear energy program. The last round of negotiations between Iran and the group was held in Moscow in June 2012.
Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to hold talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on February 26.
Washington and its western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population once fossil fuel eventually runs dry.
Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions and western embargos for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.
Tehran has dismissed the West’s demands as politically-tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.
The Islamic Republic says that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Political observers believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran mainly over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for the other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei congratulated the Iranian freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling squads on their success in the 2013 Wrestling World Cup.