Macron urges ‘respect’ for Iran nuclear deal

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in Paris on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 14 January 2018

Macron urges ‘respect’ for Iran nuclear deal

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday called for the “necessary respect” of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the French leader to change the landmark accord.
A statement from the Elysee said Macron “remembers the importance of preserving the Iran nuclear deal and the necessary respect by all parties of their engagements regarding the accord.”
Macron and Netanyahu spoke by phone on Saturday after US President Donald Trump demanded that European partners work with Washington to “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”
In his conversation with Macron, the Israeli premier said that “Trump’s remarks should be taken seriously, and whoever wants to keep the nuclear deal would be wise to fix it,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office read.
Netanyahu also told Macron the free world should “strongly condemn the five crimes of the Iranian regime,” listing “efforts to obtain nuclear weapons... developing ballistic missiles... supporting terror... regional aggression” and “the cruel repression of Iranian citizens.”
On Thursday, Macron told Trump that it was important for all signatories to respect the Iran nuclear agreement.
Tehran has rejected the notion of any modification of the 2015 nuclear deal, and has the backing of all of the partners to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union — apart from the US.
Israel says Iran is dedicated to its destruction and supports global terror, in addition to backing Palestinian militants Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah.
On Sunday, Iran’s president said the US had failed to undermine a nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers, and hailed the accord as a “long-lasting victory” for Iran, state television reported.
“The American administration has failed to undermine the nuclear deal ... Trump, despite his repeated efforts, has failed to undermine the accord ... The deal is a long-lasting victory for Iran,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech, broadcast live on state TV.


Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Updated 26 May 2020

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.