US must lift pressure and apologize before Iran will negotiate: Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani said negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 April 2019
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US must lift pressure and apologize before Iran will negotiate: Rouhani

  • Oil prices hit their highest level since November on Tuesday after Washington announced the end of imports on Iranian oil
  • Khamenei on Wednesday called the US move a “hostile measure” that “won’t be left without a response”

GENEVA: Iran is willing to negotiate with America only when the United States lifts pressure and apologizes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, according to state media.

Oil prices hit their highest level since November on Tuesday after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.

“We have always been a man of negotiation and diplomacy, the same way that we’ve been a man of war and defense. Negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted, they apologize for their illegal actions and there is mutual respect,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called the US move a “hostile measure” that “won’t be left without a response.”

“US efforts to boycott the sale of Iran’s oil won’t get them anywhere. We will export our oil as much as we need and we intend,” his official English-language Twitter account said, quoting from a speech he delivered to workers in Tehran.

“They (the US) wishfully think they have blocked Iran oil sales, but our vigorous nation and vigilant officials, if they work hard, will open many blockades,” Khamenei said in the speech, partially aired on state TV.

“Enemies have repeatedly, in vain, taken action against our great nation (and our) revolution... but they must know Iranians won’t give in,” he added.

Khamenei, speaking in Tehran, also repeated his stance that Iran should move toward the sale of oil derivatives such as refined oil and petrochemical products instead of crude.

“I appreciate any decrease of dependency on this type of oil sales,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that the US must be prepared for consequences if it tries to stop Iran from selling oil and using the Strait of Hormuz, while also offering to negotiate prisoner swaps with Washington.


Displaced by conflict, Libyan students fear for their future

Updated 20 min 52 sec ago
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Displaced by conflict, Libyan students fear for their future

  • “We’ve fallen behind... and I don’t even know where we will sit our final exams..." one high school student said
  • More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting

TRIPOLI: The fight for control of Libya’s capital is depriving tens of thousands of pupils of their education, with high school students displaced by the violence fretting about their future.
“We’ve fallen behind... and I don’t even know where we will sit our final exams or how they will calculate my grades,” said Mayar Mostafa, a teenager in her last year of high school.
Mostafa said the fighting has forced her and her family to flee their home in a southern Tripoli suburb, while her school has shut its doors.
All this has left her “psychologically stressed out,” she lamented.
Mostafa is among those who are living in limbo — not knowing when they will be able to resume their studies to salvage the school year, or when life as a whole might return to normal.
On April 4, strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize the capital Tripoli and unseat the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.
More than 2,400 have also been wounded, while 100,000 people are feared trapped by the clashes raging on the capital’s outskirts.
Fighting between Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and forces loyal to the GNA continues to rage south of Tripoli, and the UN envoy has warned of a “long and bloody war.”
Mostafa remembers the day the fighting erupted, saying she was woken by “the deafening sound of machine-gun fire and cannons.”
“We had to flee our home in the midst of a decisive school year,” she said.
“I was planning to go to university next year... Now I don’t know my fate.”
According to the UN’s agency for children, UNICEF, the fighting is “directly affecting some 122,088 children.”
“The academic year has been suspended in all schools in conflict-affected areas, and seven schools are currently sheltering displaced families,” UNICEF said last month.
It noted that an “attack on an education warehouse destroyed 5 million schoolbooks and national school exam results” in April.
In many schools classes are suspended because teachers have been trapped by fighting and are unable to reach work.
According to Rachad Bader, the head of a crisis cell set up by the Libya’s education ministry, “most schools in Tripoli have remained open,” despite the violence.
“But that is not the case for schools in Ain Zara and Abou Slim” in the southern suburbs of the capital, he said.
These “are the areas hardest hit by the military operations,” Bader added.
“I hope that the fighting will stop soon, otherwise we will have to look for alternatives for displaced children so that they won’t have to loose their school year,” he said.
The education ministry has given time off to teachers and students for the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which began on May 6, hoping that by the end of that period fighting will have abated.
Meanwhile, in areas of Tripoli spared by the conflict, teachers have banded together to give free remedial classes during Ramadan to students displaced by the violence.
“It is generous on their part, knowing that they have sacrificed their Ramadan holiday to help us catch up,” said Mostafa, who along with 25 other students is taking maths classes.
“We are really grateful for their help in such difficult times,” she said.
But she is still afraid that she will not get good grades in her final exams.
English teacher Gofran Ben Ayad says the impromptu teaching initiative is key for the students.
“What is remarkable is that most of these students are brilliant and have shown that despite the psychological trauma they have suffered and their forced displacement, they are still able to learn,” she said.
Ahmad Bashir said he found out about the catch-up lessons through the Internet and “didn’t waste time” in registering for classes.
“My high school — the Khaled Ben Al-Walid in Ain Zara — has been closed for six weeks, and this is a decisive year,” he said.
“I don’t know what my future will be like after this war,” added Bashir, who like Mostafa is in his last year of high school.
He hopes the education ministry “will be understanding” in the timing of end-of-year exams, and take into account the plight of displaced students.