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.


Militants given 48 hours to surrender enclave near Damascus-report

Updated 19 April 2018
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Militants given 48 hours to surrender enclave near Damascus-report

  • Syrian regime forces shelled the last pockets in Damascus controlled by the Daesh group, preparing the ground for a possible assault on the militants stronghold
  • The Syrian army and its allies have focused their efforts on securing Damascus lately

BEIRUT: Daesh militants have been given 48 hours to agree to withdraw from an enclave they control south of Damascus, the pro-Syrian government newspaper Al-Watan reported on Thursday.
“If they refuse, the army and supporting forces are ready to launch a military operation to end the presence of the organization in the area,” it said.
The militant-controlled enclave is centered around the Palestinian Yarmouk camp and the Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad area south of Damascus. The area is much smaller than the eastern Ghouta region where the Syrian government recently defeated insurgents.
A commander in the regional military alliance that backs the Syrian government said the Syrian army had begun shelling the militant enclave on Tuesday in preparation for an assault.
Yarmouk, some 8 km (5 miles) from the center of Damascus, was home to Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee community before the Syrian war erupted in 2011. Although most residents have fled, the United Nations has said several thousand remain.
The Syrian government has recovered swathes of territory from rebels by letting them leave to other rebel-held parts of the country after years of siege and ferocious military assaults backed by Russia and Iran.