Putin to talk with Saudi’s King Salman following Assad’s Russia meeting

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as seen in Damascus, Syria November 14, 2017. (Reuters)
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(Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)
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(Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)
Updated 21 November 2017
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Putin to talk with Saudi’s King Salman following Assad’s Russia meeting

DUBAI: Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a telephone conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to inform him about his meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Kremlin said.
“Today there will be Putin’s telephone conversation with the king of Saudi Arabia, and one can certainly expect that Putin will inform his Saudi counterpart about yesterday’s meeting,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
Putin had previously said he planned to talk to US counterpart Donald Trump on the telephone on Tuesday after the unannounced meeting with Assad in Sochi.
Putin said he intended to “hold consultations” with the leaders of other countries.
Assad visited Sochi in Russia on Monday to meet with Putin, the Kremlin announced on Tuesday.
Russian state TV said the two leaders held bilateral talks on Monday and then met with Russian military chiefs.
It was the second time Assad has traveled to Russia to meet with Putin in the course of the country’s six-year civil war.
The first was in October 2015, shortly after Russia launched its military campaign in Syria to shore up Assad’s forces. The Russian intervention has turned the war in favor of Assad.
According to the Kremlin, Assad said that Damascus is interested in promoting a political process after the government defeats “terrorists” in the country and added that he is interested in working with any party that seeks a political settlement. Assad also thanked Russia for its role in “saving our country.”
Meanwhile, Putin hailed Assad’s apparent readiness to cooperate with all parties seeking a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and added that he plans to speak to US President Donald Trump and regional leaders about the Syrian issue.
Putin also said that the visit by Assad came ahead of visits by the presidents of Turkey and Iran to Russia, planned for this week.
The meeting in Sochi comes a week before UN-sponsored peace talks are to resume in Geneva.
Assad’s office confirmed the visit on its Facebook page.

(With AFP and Reuters)


Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

An intended visit to Tehran was canceled and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

  • Iran has maintained close ties to Iraq's government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, Tehran's archenemy
  • The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged support for international terrorism

BAGHDAD: Failure by Iraq to comply fully with tough new US economic sanctions against Iran would be insane, analysts told Arab News on Tuesday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi risked incurring US wrath after contradicting himself in the space of a few hours over whether his country would comply.
Amid diplomatic maneuvers, as he negotiates for a second term in office after divisive and contested elections, Abadi offended both Tehran and Washington with conflicting statements on the US sanctions, which were reimposed last week.
First, the prime minister said that while Iraq disapproved of the new sanctions, it would reluctantly comply. “We don’t support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them,” he said.
“Our economic situation is also difficult and we sympathize with Iran. But. at the same time, I will not make grand slogans that destroy my people and my country just to make certain people happy.”
His position provoked anger in Iran. An intended visit to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the issue was canceled, and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned.
There was also criticism inside Iraq, especially from groups close to Tehran, such as the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr paramilitary movements.
Within hours, however, Abadi had reversed his position. “I did not say we abide by the sanctions, I said we abide by not using dollars in transactions. We have no other choice,” Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad.
Asked if Baghdad would stop imports of commodities, appliances and equipment by government companies from Iran, he said the matter was still being reviewed. “We honestly have not made any decision regarding this issue until now,” he said.
Michael Knights, the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “Iraq can’t afford to be cut off from the dollar-based global financial system, so it makes sense to avoid sanctioned Iranian financial entities. Iraq should also protect its dollar reserves.
“These are the only sane options for a country that desperately needs international investment.”
Iraq is the second-largest purchaser of Iranian non-oil exports, and bought about $6 billion worth of goods in 2017. It also buys Iranian-generated electricity to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the British renewable energy investor Quercus became the latest major company to pull out of Iran as a result of the new sanctions.
It halted construction of $570 million solar power plant in Iran, which would have been the sixth-largest in the world.