Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting. (File/AP/Altaf Qadri)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting
  • Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught following the decision in May by President Donald Trump to pull the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned a senior Polish diplomat on Sunday to protest Poland’s jointly hosting a global summit with the United States focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, state news agency IRNA reported.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the summit — to be held in Warsaw on Feb. 13-14 — would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including on the “important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilising influence.”
An Iranian foreign ministry official told Poland’s charge d’affaires in Tehran that Iran saw the decision to host the meeting as a “hostile act against Iran” and warned that Tehran could reciprocate, IRNA added.
“Poland’s charge d’affaires provided explanations about the conference and said it was not anti-Iran,” the agency added.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting and wrote on Twitter: “Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.”
Zarif was referring to Iran hosting more that 100,000 Polish refugees during the Second World War.
Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught following the decision in May by President Donald Trump to pull the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers and to reimpose sanctions.


Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 49 min 20 sec ago
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Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”