France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Thursday Iran cannot avoid talks about its role in Middle East conflicts. (AFP)
Updated 30 August 2018
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France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue

  • France is leading the work in Europe to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran
  • France are among several countries, including Germany, UK, Russia and China, continuing to try and salvage the deal

VIENNA: Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday, as France leads the work to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran.
“Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case, but Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us,” Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna.
France are among several countries, including Germany, UK, Russia and China, continuing to try and salvage the deal after US President Donald Trump decided to pull the US out unilaterally in May.
The comments came after a confidential quarterly report seen by AP released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which shows Iran continues to comply with the nuclear deal even after the withdrawal of the US.
In the report, distributed to member states, the IAEA said Iran has stayed with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
The deal exchanges economic incentives for nuclear guarantees. Since the American withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions, Iran’s economy has already started to struggle and its currency has plummeted in value.
The other five nations have affirmed their commitment to the deal, which limits Iran’s enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from international trade, oil and banking sanctions.
The nations have said it will take time, however, to negotiate the details of the guarantees that Iran is looking for.
In the report, the IAEA said it had been given access to all sites in Iran that it needed to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.


Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

Displaced Syrian children attend class at a makeshift school in the village of Muhandiseen, in the south western countryside of the Aleppo province, on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

  • Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side

ALEPPO, Syria: In rebel-held northern Syria, displaced children sit or lie on the ground of an unfinished villa, bending over their notebooks to apply themselves as they write the day’s lesson.
Four teachers instruct around 100 children — girls and boys aged six to 12 — at the makeshift school in an opposition-held area in the west of the northern province of Aleppo.
Between the bare walls of the villa abandoned mid-construction, children sit or lie on sheets or plain carpets, their small backpacks cast by their side.
Dubbed “Buds of Hope,” the teaching facility has no desks, library or even working toilets.
Instead, the air wafts in from beyond the pine trees outside through the gaping windows in the cement wall.
Dressed in a bright blue T-shirt and jeans, her hair neatly tied back in a pony tail, a barefoot girl kneels over her book, carefully writing.
“This isn’t a school,” says 11-year-old Ali Abdel Jawad.
“There aren’t any classrooms, no seats, nothing. We’re sitting on the ground,” he says.
In one classroom, a gaggle of veiled young girls sit on a bench, as the teacher explains the lesson to one of their male counterparts near a rare white board.
In another, the school’s only female teacher perches on a plastic chair, as her students gather around on the floor, their backs against the wall.

Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side.
The children — as well as their teachers — have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Syria due to the seven-year war, a teacher told an AFP photographer.
Some hail from Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, a former rebel stronghold that fell back under regime control in April after a blistering offensive and surrender deals.
Others come from the central provinces of Hama or Homs.
A dry fountain lies in the courtyard outside the villa’s elegant facade, where girls link arms and swing around in a circle.
Schools in opposition-held areas are generally funded by aid organizations, but have in the past been hit by bombardment.
“We’re always scared of bombardment and of the situation in general,” says one of the teachers, giving his name as Mohammed.
The building lies in rebel-held territory adjacent to regime-controlled parts of Aleppo city to the east, but also the major opposition stronghold of Idlib to the west.
Some three million people live in the Idlib province and adjacent areas of the neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, around half of them displaced by war in other parts of Syria.
Earlier this month, many feared a regime assault on Idlib, but last week Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara announced a deal to temporarily halt it.