US rejects French request for Iran exemptions as reinsurer pulls out

Europe needs to react quickly and protect its economic sovereignty, says French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. FIle/Reuters
Updated 14 July 2018
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US rejects French request for Iran exemptions as reinsurer pulls out

  • Tehran’s support for Assad regime key item at Monday’s Trump-Putin summit
  • Most international insurers in Iran are working with the shipping and energy industries in the country

PARIS: The US has rejected a French request for waivers for its companies operating in Iran that Paris sought after President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the country, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Figaro.

Paris had singled out key areas where it expected either exemptions or extended wind-down periods for French companies, including energy, banking, pharmaceuticals and automotive.
Officials had expressed little hope for securing the waivers, which were critical for oil and gas major Total to continue a multibillion-dollar gas project in Iran and for carmaker PSA Group to pursue its joint venture.
French reinsurer Scor SE said on Friday it will not seek new contracts or renew existing business in Iran, given the US sanctions.
Most international insurers in Iran are working with the shipping and energy industries in the country.
“We have just received Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s response: It’s negative,” Le Maire told Le Figaro in an interview published on Friday.
Le Maire said Europe needed to react quickly and protect its economic sovereignty.
“Europe must provide itself with the tools it needs to defend itself against extra-territorial sanctions,” Le Maire added.
Washington announced in May it was imposing new economic penalties on Tehran after pulling out of a multilateral 2015 agreement, under which Tehran had agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
Trump’s sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a new agreement to halt its nuclear programs that might include Tehran’s regional activities and ballistics development. In particular, Washington wants to curtail the oil exports that are key to Iran’s economic revival.

Strategic objective
Earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from its neighbors if Washington pressed ahead with trying to force countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
As fighting in Syria wanes after seven years of war, the US has made curtailing Iran’s influence in post-war Syria a strategic objective.
When Trump meets Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Syrian conflict will be one of the most immediately pressing issues on a wide-ranging and colorful agenda.
A full withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces from Syria is a virtual non-starter.
After years of ruinous civil war, Iran and its proxy militias, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, have built up a formidable presence stretching from the Iraqi border through central Syria to Lebanon.
President Bashar Assad, with crucial military and political assistance from Iran and Russia, has recaptured around 60 percent of the country, including its main cities, putting an end to any serious talk of regime change in Damascus. And, amid a consistently declining US role, Russia has emerged as an uncontested power broker in the country.
Still, both Russia and the US have an interest in working together in Syria and beyond, and while Russia and Iran have been on the same side of the war, their interests do not always converge.
Russia also has maintained warm ties with Israel and has demonstrated a readiness to take the Jewish state’s security interests into account.


El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

Evelyn Hernandez (C) is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador, on February 9, 2019, where she was serving a 30-year-sentence for aggravated homicide after her baby died at birth. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 52 sec ago
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El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

  • Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A Salvadoran court on Friday freed Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home.
After serving 33 months for aggravated homicide, 20-year-old Hernandez smiled as she was reunited with her parents and a brother in the capital San Salvador.
The court in Cojutepeque, east of the capital, ruled that she will be retried but while living at home. A hearing has been set for April 4, with a new judge, her lawyer Angelica Rivas said.
El Salvador has an extremely strict abortion ban. Hernandez gave birth in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region. She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.
She said her son was stillborn but was convicted of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.
ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.
Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.
The group said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains. She got pregnant as the result of a rape, which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.
Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.
The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus which developed without a brain.
Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized her to undergo a cesarean section. The baby died shortly after the procedure.