Iran: Misunderstanding led to diplomat’s arrest

Updated 05 May 2013
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Iran: Misunderstanding led to diplomat’s arrest

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign minister said he believed the detention of a former diplomat linked to the country’s reformists was caused by a “misunderstanding” and defended the man’s record, Iranian media reported.
Bagher Asadi, who was a senior diplomat at Iran’s UN mission in New York before becoming a director at the secretariat of the D8 group of developing nations in Istanbul, was arrested mid-March in the Iranian capital, sources told Reuters this week.
It was not clear where Asadi was being held, who arrested the 61-year-old diplomat or on what grounds, the sources said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed Asadi’s arrest, the ISNA said.
“It’s unfortunate that there has been a misunderstanding regarding Mr. Bagher Asadi, one of the highly skilled and valuable experts in the foreign ministry who has a good track record and from whom we have seen nothing but efforts to secure the country’s interests, and we are hopeful this misunderstanding will be resolved,” Salehi said.
Salehi did not say who had arrested Asadi.
“From what we know of Mr. Bagher Asadi, we know him as a devout person ... and a very reputable official with a brilliant record,” Salehi said. “God willing, this misunderstanding will be resolved and by the grace of God he will be freed.”
Opposition leaders Mehdi Karoubi and Mirhossein Mousavi, both candidates in the 2009 election, are under house arrest following mass protests over alleged fraud in the re-election of Ahmadinejad that year.
Last month Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said Tehran’s silencing of journalists and opposition leaders could jeopardize the legitimacy of the presidential election in June.
In January 2004, Asadi wrote an opinion piece that ran in the New York Times in which he made clear his affinities with the reformist philosophy of Khatami.


Temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Daesh-held area of south Damascus

Updated 35 min 28 sec ago
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Temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Daesh-held area of south Damascus

BEIRUT: A temporary humanitarian ceasefire is in place to allow women, children and the elderly to evacuate the Daesh-held area of Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad in south Damascus, Syrian state media said on Monday citing a military source.
The Syrian army and its allies have been battling for weeks to recapture the tiny Daesh enclave, the last area outside government control in or around the capital.
On Sunday, state media denied a war monitor’s report that fighters had begun withdrawing from the area toward Daesh territory in eastern Syria under a surrender deal.
The temporary ceasefire came into effect on Sunday night and will end at 12pm and the army offensive will start again immediately, state media cited the military source as saying.
The war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported early on Monday that buses had already started leaving south Damascus for the Daesh areas in eastern Syria.
The ultra-hardline militant group now controls only the tiny pocket in south Damascus and two besieged desert areas in eastern Syria, while another insurgent group that has pledged loyalty to it holds a small enclave in the southwest.
Pro-Syrian government forces have staged an intensive operation to recover Daesh’s south Damascus pocket in Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad and the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp since driving rebels from eastern Ghouta in April.