Iran ready to improve ties with all regional states: Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran wanted to establish close ties with all countries in the Middle East. (AP)
Updated 17 February 2019
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Iran ready to improve ties with all regional states: Rouhani

  • ‘Iran is ready to work with regional states to preserve security in the Middle East’

DUBAI: Iran is ready to work with all of its neighbors to secure peace in the Middle East in the face of US and Israeli aggression, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

But pressure is building on Tehran after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and re-imposed sanctions. Saudi Arabia welcomed the move.

“Iran is ready to work with regional states to preserve security in the Middle East,” Rouhani said in a public speech in the southern Hormozgan province, broadcast live on state TV. “We want to establish brotherly ties with all countries of the region ... Iran has never started any aggression in the region.”

“Those regional states that believe Israel and America can establish security are wrong. We, the Muslims, should ensure the regional security,” Rouhani said, to chants of “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel.”

Sunni group Jaish Al-Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Revolutionary Guards have threatened Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan with retaliation.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan deny backing the militants. Iran’s foreign ministry on Sunday summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to protest about Wednesday’s attack.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.