Lebanon’s Aoun: Talks underway amid disputes with Israel over border wall, energy

Lebanese President Michel Aoun is seen at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, November 7, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Lebanon’s Aoun: Talks underway amid disputes with Israel over border wall, energy

BEIRUT, Feb 8 : Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Thursday that talks were underway “to prevent Israeli greed” amid bilateral disputes over a border wall and an offshore energy block in disputed waters.
“Communications are ongoing through the United Nations and friendly states to handle this issue... hoping that Israel does not escalate,” Aoun told a cabinet session, according to his office.
“We will confront any attack” on Lebanon’s territory or waters, he said. 
 


US Treasury imposes sanctions on Iranian network supporting child soldiers

Updated 18 min 42 sec ago
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US Treasury imposes sanctions on Iranian network supporting child soldiers

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury announced new sanctions against Iran's Bank Mellat and Mehr Eqtesad Bank on Tuesday.

The Treasury also announced sanctions against Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, Esfehan's Mobarakeh Steel Company, as well as other firms.

According to the Tresury, the group make up a multibillion-dollar financial network that supports an Iranian paramilitary force that recruits and trains child soldiers for the country's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Bonyad Taavon Basij network supports a volunteer paramilitary group, the Basij Resistance Force, which works with the IRGC, the Treasury said in a statement.

Both Basij groups were targeted by the new sanctions.

"This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij's efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC's direction," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Basij is involved in violent crackdowns and serious human rights abuses within Iran, the statement said. It recruits and trains fighters for the IRGC-Quds Force, including Iranian children as young as 12, who then deploy to Syria to support the government of President Bashar al-Assad regime, it said.

The designations highlight that "this Iranian regime is not a normal government," a senior administration official said. "Normal governments don't have revolutionary arms that support revolution and wreak havoc with their neighbors. They don't recruit indoctrinate and use child soldiers."

The sanctions were imposed on Bank Mellat, Mehr Eqtesad Bank, Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Co and five other investment firms, the Treasury said.

The sanctions also target Iran Tractor Manufacturing Co, the Middle East's largest tractor manufacturer, and Esfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Co, the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa region, Treasury said.