Russia, China to stop bid to ‘sabotage’ Iran deal: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi exchange documents in Beijing's Great Hall of the People in 2016. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 April 2018
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Russia, China to stop bid to ‘sabotage’ Iran deal: Lavrov

  • Russian FM: Iran agreement “one of the biggest achievements in international diplomacy in recent times"
  • Trump has threatened to abandon the accord unless European capitals agree to supplement it with tougher controls on Iran’s missile program

BEIJING: China and Russia will block any attempts to “sabotage” the Iran nuclear agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday, as US President Donald Trump mulls whether to scrap the deal.

Trump has set a May 12 deadline to “fix” the 2015 accord, which curbs Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief and was the fruit of intense diplomacy involving the US, European powers, Russia and China.

“There are attempts to interfere with the international order upon which the United Nations depends,” Lavrov said after talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.

“We said clearly with China that we will stop attempts to sabotage these agreements that were passed in a UN Security Council resolution,” Lavrov said.

He was speaking on the eve of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security bloc spearheaded by Moscow and Beijing.

Calling the Iran agreement “one of the biggest achievements in international diplomacy in recent times,” Lavrov said that “revising this document is unacceptable.”

Trump has threatened to abandon the accord unless European capitals agree to supplement it with tougher controls on Iran’s missile program and its future ability to enrich nuclear fuel.

His partners maintain that implementation of the agreement under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best way to prevent Tehran from seeking an atomic bomb.

Iran warned Saturday it was ready to “vigorously” resume nuclear enrichment if the US ditches the deal.

 

Putin visit

Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart also discussed an upcoming visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to China. Putin will travel to China in June and his visit will be in connection with a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Lavrov said.

“Today we focused on preparations for the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Beijing, after a meeting with China’s top diplomat.

Earlier this month, Putin said he plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping several times this year: At the SCO, at a meeting of BRICS countries, at the G-20 Summit and at an Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, TASS cited him as saying.

Also on Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said German and French leaders will urge Trump not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal since doing so could cause major problems.

Maas was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in Canada, 

He also said the G-7 would formally call on Russia to contribute to solving the crisis in Syria.

Maas said that in upcoming meetings in Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron would urge Trump to stay in the deal. The agreement offered Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

“We believe it is extremely important to uphold this agreement. Were it to fail or the US to drop out, we would not have anything comparable to it and we fear that the situation would significantly deteriorate with everything that goes with it,” he said.


Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

  • “Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said
  • The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday

JEDDAH: Truce monitoring observers will be deployed in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday as the first 24 hours of a UN-brokered cease-fire passed without incident.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee comprises members of the Yemeni government supported by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militias backed by Iran, and is overseen by the UN. 

The head of the committee will report to the UN Security Council every week.

Deployment of the observers is the latest stage in a peace deal reached after talks last week in Sweden. Both sides in the conflict agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of their forces within 21 days.

“Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said on Tuesday.

Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

UN envoy Martin Griffith said the committee was expected to start its work swiftly “to translate the momentum built up in Sweden into achievements on the ground.”

The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday. Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. 

“We are hopeful that things will go back to the way they were and that there will be no aggression, no airstrikes and lasting security,” said one, Amani Mohammed.

Another resident, Mohammed Al-Saikel, said he was optimistic the cease-fire would pave the way for a broader truce. “We are hopeful about this cease-fire in Hodeidah and one for Yemen in general,” he said. “We will reach out in peace to whoever does the same.”

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor the cease-fire.

The resolution, submitted by the UK, “calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.”