From Page 1
“However, when we look back at what our organization has achieved after fifteen years of cooperation, I must say that our cooperation has not reflected its true potential and is still far from fulfilling its objectives and goals,” said Salehi.
He said, “One other surprising issue is that after 15 years of the inception of D-8, we lack a financial mechanism to support projects on different aspects of the work of the organization.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has ratified the Preferential Trade Agreement and exchanged its Offer List of Products. We are delighted to note that the first meeting of Supervisory Committee held and we earnestly hope to witness operational endeavors of PTA begin soon.
“We also have acceded to Visa Agreement and Civil Aviation Cooperation, and hope to see practical steps towards implementation of these documents.”
The top diplomat said ‘democratic partnership for peace and prosperity’ is selected as the theme for D-8 Summit. “We therefore submit that democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems,” he pointed out.
Israel’s Inhuman Aggression
Elsewhere in his remarks, Salehi called on the United Nations Security Council to leave behind its attitude of double standards and take tangible measures to stop inhuman aggression by Zionist regime on innocent Palestinians.
“It is indeed with extreme sorrow and sadness that we are gathering here at a moment when we are witnessing atrocious, outrageous and inhuman aggression and onslaught by the Zionist regime upon our defenseless Palestinian brothers and sisters,” he said.
The minister added, “The least expected from all of us is to express in the strongest voice our condemnation of this bloody massacre and ask the UN Security Council to leave behind its attitude of double standards and do something in taking tangible measures in stopping this nascent genocide.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that Pakistan offered investment opportunities to foreign businessmen in energy, communication infrastructure and agriculture.
She said that Islamabad Summit will have significance as it was coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the founding of the D8 bloc.
She said, “This journey, which we started in 1997, has enriched our fraternal relationships in the last many decades but there is so much more potential that we still have to tap and we hope that we start the journey of tapping that potential from here.”
The foreign minister said that the D8 group of countries had come together in 1997 for a reason--’because we collectively believe that the better future of our people is within grasp’.
“We share an intrinsic optimism about the benefits of working together, reducing the barriers that exist between us and enriching the lives of the one billion people of the D8 that we are proud to be a member of today.”
She said that the D8 countries had a large number of young people and that the forum gave the opportunity to ‘collectively and together reflect on how we can work together to break down the barriers to the free movement of goods, ideas, services people between our eight important countries’.
Rabbani Khar pointed out that the Islamabad summit was the venue of adoption of two landmark documents--the D-8 Charter and the Global Vision. She also condemned Israeli violence on Gaza.
The D8 group comprises Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh and Indonesia. It’s an international treaty formed for the purpose of strengthening economic relations among the member countries in order to influence global markets.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in the Islamabad summit.
According to Rabbani Khar, during the meeting, Pakistan will assume the rotating presidency of D8 until 2014.
The D8 group, with a population of one billion people, has a combined market value of one trillion dollars. The group is determined to boost its trade volume to $500 billion by 2018.
Upon arrival at Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Tuesday night, Salehi said Iran, Egypt, and Turkey will discuss the Syrian crisis on the sidelines of the Eighth Summit of the Developing Eight (D8) group in Pakistan.
On Sunday, Tehran hosted a two-day meeting between the representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups. Almost 200 participants, including Syrian scholars, tribal and religious leaders, representatives of different ethnicities, minorities and the opposition as well as representatives from other countries attended the meeting.
Salehi added that the Islamic Republic of Iran will make its ‘utmost efforts’ to help resolve the current crisis in the regional countries, especially Syria, peacefully.
IRGC Commander: Iran Leads Region in IT
Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution’s Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami lauded Iran’s advancements in various technological fields, and said Iran is the most developed country in the region in the field of information technology.
“According to reliable foreign sources, Iran ranks first among regional countries in the area of Information Technology (IT) and this has provided grounds for other developments in different fields,” Salami said in Tehran on Wednesday, Fars News Agency reported.
The commander noted that IT has drastically changed the world by reducing distances between geographical locations, and said, “By having better and greater access to this important phenomenon anyone can play a more important role in the world.
“The information technology and communications have even revolutionized warfare, and they have immensely influenced management, organization, and command and control in battles.”
Last week, Brigadier General Salami said that Iran’s progress in acquiring and producing different types of hi-tech military weapons and equipment has distressed Israeli and US officials.
“We are now in such circumstances that the enemies have found out they can’t be calm and cool”, a new atmosphere of world developments in which Iran has ‘drones that are guided and controlled from hundreds of kilometers away’,” Salami said.
He also reminded that Iran, using its hi-tech missiles, can ‘hit any point that it wants’, and said these advancements have distressed the US and Israel as arch foes of the Islamic Republic.
Major Naval Drill Due Soon
Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the Islamic Republic will hold a major naval drill, dubbed Velayat 91, in the near future to display its might and deterrence power.
Sayyari said on Wednesday that the drill is scheduled to be held in the tenth month of the Iranian calendar (which begins on December 21, 2012 and ends on January 20, 2013).
Sayyari, however, did not provide further details on the drill, Young Journalists Club reported.
The top commander also said that Iran’s Navy has planned to send a fleet of warships to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to display its power.
Iran’s Navy launched the massive 10-day Velayat 90 naval exercise on December 24, 2011 to display the Islamic Republic’s defensive capabilities and to convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries.
The drill covered an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden. Apart from military tactics, different domestically-built pieces of equipment were also tested in the drill.
Over the past few years, Iran has held several military drills to enhance the defense capabilities of its armed forces and to test modern military tactics and equipment.
Iran’s Navy has also been multiplying its naval presence in international waters in recent years, deploying vessels to the Indian Ocean and dispatching, in February 2011, two ships via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.
In addition, in line with the international efforts to combat piracy, the Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard vessels involved in maritime trade, especially ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran.
According to UN Security Council resolutions, countries can send warships to the Gulf of Aden and coastal waters off Somalia against the pirates and even, with prior notice of the Somali government, enter the territorial waters of that country in pursuit of Somali sea pirates.
Pirates from lawless Somalia have hijacked dozens of ships and taken ransom for their release in the Gulf of Aden through which approximately 11 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum pass. More than 22,000 ships per year transit through the waterway making it a strategic trade route in the world economy.
AL, EU Statement on 3 Islands Biased, Inaccurate
Iran called a recent joint statement by the Arab League and the European Union on three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf biased and inaccurate.
“The islands of Abu Mousa, the Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb indisputably belong to the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday, IRNA reported.
Mehmanparast stated that biased and uninformed comments do not alter the incontrovertible fact about the Iranian islands, adding, “Such false claims and fueling rumors about the threat of [closing] the Strait of Hormuz… run contrary to the interests of regional nations and the global economy.”
He further stated that ‘sowing discord among regional countries, the meddling of foreign powers, militarism, and [the possibility] of an arms race starting are… the major threats to regional security and stability’.
The Arab League and the European Union made the remarks in the final communiqué of their second foreign ministerial meeting, which was held in Cairo on November 13.
The islands of the Greater Tunb, the Lesser Tunb, and Abu Mousa have historically been part of Iran, proof of which can be found and corroborated by countless historical, legal, and geographical documents in Iran and other parts of the world. However, the United Arab Emirates has repeatedly laid claim to the islands.
The islands temporarily fell under British control in the 1800s but were returned to Iran on November 30, 1971 through a legal procedure that preceded the establishment of the UAE as an independent state.
Tensions between Iran and the UAE got heated last April following a visit by President Ahmadinejad to Abu Mousa.
Abu Dhabi denounced Ahmadinejad’s visit as a ‘violation of UAE sovereignty’ and recalled its ambassador from Tehran in protest.
Tehran advised, at the time, caution and patience, with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi insisting Iranian sovereignty over the islands was ‘not negotiable’.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan responded by claiming that if left unresolved, the issue ‘could jeopardize international security and peace’.
Ahmadinejad in Pakistan
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad headed to Islamabad on Wednesday to attend the summit of the group of eight Muslim developing countries (D8).
Ahead of his visit, the president praised the constructive ties between Iran and Pakistan in recent years, and reiterated that Tehran is determined to make use of all its capacities and capabilities to further develop relations with Islamabad in all fields.
“Tehran-Islamabad relations are good and friendly and have been expanding over recent years.
We are resolved to utilize all our potentials for the development of the (bilateral) ties,” Ahmadinejad told reporters on Wednesday.
“Iran-Pakistan ties are deeply rooted,” he said, adding the two sides enjoy common cultures, beliefs and views.
Ahmadinejad added that he is due to discuss economic and trade ties as well as joint investments in different fields, including the construction of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, during his visit to Islamabad.
Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi, senior Advisor to President Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, Vice President Hamid Baqaei and Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei are accompanying the president on the visit.
Ahmadinejad is also scheduled to join a tripartite meeting among Iran, Turkey and Egypt on the Syrian crisis.
Firm Support for Palestinian Cause Reaffirmed
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has reaffirmed the Islamic Republic’s firm support for Palestine in the face of Israeli brutalities against the Gaza Strip.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, supports Palestine and [the anti-Israeli] resistance [movement] with honor and strength,” Saeed Jalili said in a meeting with the visiting former Iraqi premier, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari on Tuesday, Press TV reported.
“Today, Gaza represents the moment of truth for the self-declared defenders of the Islamic Ummah and the Palestinian resistance,” Jalili added.
“The honest support offered by the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq and Bahraini Shiites for Gaza and the Palestinian resistance is indicative of Shiite-Sunni unity in defending the interests of the Islamic Ummah, and has thwarted futile efforts by enemies to sow discord in the Islamic Ummah,” he pointed out.
Jalili also said Israeli’s ‘strategic stupidity’ in launching war on Gaza revealed once more the ‘criminal and aggressive’ nature of the Zionist regime.
The Israeli military says it has attacked the Gaza Strip 1,500 times since the beginning of raids against the coastal enclave.
The Israeli offensive has left scores injured and over 130 Palestinians dead, including senior Hamas commander Ahmed Al-Ja’abari, the head of Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades.
The Israeli military frequently carries out airstrikes and other attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes.
However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.
Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
VP Felicitates Lebanon
First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi Wednesday congratulated the Lebanese nation and government on the country’s Independence Day, November 22.