Albania expels Iranian diplomats for ‘harming security’

Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania. (Reuters)
Updated 20 December 2018
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Albania expels Iranian diplomats for ‘harming security’

  • “Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated,” Bolton wrote on Twitter

TIRANA: Albania said Wednesday it has expelled two Iranian diplomats for security reasons, with US officials identifying one as the ambassador and saying the pair plotted “terrorist attacks” in the Balkan country.
The diplomats were suspected of “involvement in activities that harm the country’s security,” Albania’s Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Edlira Prendi told reporters, adding that the decision was taken in consultation with other countries.
She declined to provide the diplomats’ names or elaborate on the nature of their alleged offense.
But in a statement welcoming the move, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the diplomats as “two Iranian agents who plotted terrorist attacks in Albania.”
US National Security Adviser John Bolton also identified one of the diplomats as the ambassador.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated,” Bolton wrote on Twitter.
He added: “We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe.”
An Albanian TV station, Top Channel, reported that the Iranians were suspected of links to an alleged plot to attack a 2016 World Cup match between Albania and Israel.
After the match some 20 people were arrested in Albania and Kosovo in connection with the alleged plot.
At the request of US authorities and the UN in 2013, Albania agreed to take in some 3,000 members of Iranian opposition group known as The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).
Their relocation from a camp in Iraq was completed in 2016 when the last 280 people left for Albania. They currently live in a compound in the northwest of the country.


NZ foreign minister headed to Turkey to ‘confront’ Erdogan’s mosque shooting comments

Updated 1 min 15 sec ago
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NZ foreign minister headed to Turkey to ‘confront’ Erdogan’s mosque shooting comments

  • President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not
  • His comments came at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings
SYDNEY: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Turkey to “confront” comments made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the killing of at least 50 people at mosques in Christchurch.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire at the two mosques during Friday prayers.
Erdogan — who is seeking to drum up support for his Islamist-rooted AK Party in March 31 local elections — said Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.
The comments came at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings which the alleged gunman had broadcast on Facebook.
Ardern said Peters would seek urgent clarification.
“Our deputy prime minister will be confronting those comments in Turkey,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face.”
Peters had earlier condemned the airing of footage of the shooting, which he said could endanger New Zealanders abroad.
Despite Peters’ intervention, an extract from Tarrant’s alleged manifesto was flashed up on a screen at Erdogan’s rally again on Tuesday, along with footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he summoned Turkey’s ambassador for a meeting, during which he demanded Erdogan’s comments be removed from Turkey’s state broadcaster.
“I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Morrison said Australia’s ambassador to Turkey will on Wednesday meet with the members of Erdogan’s government.
Morrison said Canberra is also reconsidering its travel advice for Australians planning trips to Turkey.
Relations between Turkey, New Zealand and Australia have generally been good. Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services.
Just over a century ago, thousands of soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) struggled ashore on a narrow beach at Gallipoli during an ill-fated campaign that would claim more than 130,000 lives.
The area has become a site of pilgrimage for visitors who honor their nations’ fallen in graveyards halfway around the world on ANZAC Day every April 25.