EU and Iran defend nuclear deal, under fire from Trump

Federica Mogherini (R), High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, walks through the US Capitol between meetings in Washington, DC, Nov. 7, 2017. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini brings her campaign to save the Iran nuclear deal from US President Donald Trump’s scorn to Capitol Hill, where senators are working on a bill that could kill it. (AFP/Saul Loeb)
Updated 10 November 2017
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EU and Iran defend nuclear deal, under fire from Trump

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan: Senior officials from the European Union and Iran spoke up on Friday in defense of the agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, as the pact comes under heavy pressure from US President Donald Trump.
The nuclear deal was “a major achievement of European and international multilateral diplomacy,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a conference in Uzbekistan.
“The European Union will make sure it will continue to be fully implemented by all, in all its parts,” she said.
Trump on Oct. 13 dealt a blow to the pact by refusing to certify that Tehran was complying with the accord, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions. International inspectors said it was complying.
The US Congress has until mid-December to decide whether to reimpose sanctions lifted by the deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also spoke on Friday at the United Nations-sponsored conference on Central Asian security and development in Samarkand.
“By clinching the nuclear deal and fulfilling all our commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we have in action proved our compliance with the principle of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament,” he said, without mentioning Trump directly.

Uzbek thaw
Mogherini said the EU’s ties with ex-Soviet Central Asia were at an all-time high following moves by Uzbekistan’s new government to open up the previously isolated nation.
Mogherini, the first EU foreign policy chief to visit Uzbekistan in four years, met President Shavkat Mirziyoyev as well as foreign ministers of all five Central Asian nations.
Mirziyoyev was elected president last December after the death of his authoritarian predecessor Islam Karimov, who was accused of systematic human rights abuses and whose relations with the West were poor.
Seeking to modernize Uzbekistan’s economy, Mirziyoyev has moved to mend those relations and announced an ambitious reform program at home.
After a “very long and fruitful meeting” with Mirziyoyev, Mogherini said the reforms had the full support of Brussels.
Mirziyoyev has also improved ties with neighboring Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan after years of bitter standoffs over matters such as borders and water use, winning further praise from Mogherini.
“I would say that we are at the top of our historical experience of cooperation, but we want to use it not as a target point, but as a starting point,” she said.


Lebanon says it foiled plots to stage attacks in May

Updated 41 min 51 sec ago
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Lebanon says it foiled plots to stage attacks in May

  • The attacks were planned from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and were timed to coincide with Lebanon’s general election, the interior minister said
  • Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces monitored the plot and thwarted it, he said

BEIRUT: Lebanon foiled a plot by militants based in Syria to carry out two attacks this year against places of worship and Lebanese army positions, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Monday.
The attacks were planned from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and were timed to coincide with Lebanon’s general election that took place in May, he said in a televised news conference.
Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces monitored the plot and thwarted it, he said. The country remains safe for both residents and visitors, he added.
Lebanese authorities say they have disrupted or foiled numerous attacks in recent years, including some linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria. From 2013-2016 militants struck Lebanon repeatedly with bomb attacks
Idlib province is part of the last remaining stronghold in Syria outside government control and much of it is held by extremist rebel groups including the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Lebanon shares power among its religious sects and has maintained a “dissociation” policy of staying out of regional conflicts.
However, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah has played a key military role in Syria supporting President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni rebels seeking to oust him.