Trump thanks Albania for expelling Iranian diplomats

File photo showing US President Donald Trump standing during a joint statement with Singapore's PM at the White House. (Reuters)
Updated 20 December 2018

Trump thanks Albania for expelling Iranian diplomats

  • Albania’s Foreign Ministry said the two diplomats were expelled for “violating their diplomatic status”

TIRANA, ALBANIA: US President Donald Trump has thanked Albania for expelling the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat for allegedly engaging in illegal activities that threaten Albania’s security.
Trump’s letter to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, dated Dec. 14, thanked him “for your steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe.”
The US Embassy in Tirana published the letter on its Facebook page on Thursday.
Albania’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said the two diplomats were expelled for “violating their diplomatic status” following talks with other countries, including Israel.
Trump’s letter said the expulsion “exemplifies our joint efforts to show the Iranian government that its terrorist activities in Europe and around the world will have severe consequences.”
Iran blamed the United States and Israel for the expulsions. The official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying that “Albania has become an unintentional victim of the United States, Israel and some terrorist groups.”
The spokesman said the US and Israel are working to destroy relations between Iran and European countries, and that Albania should not allow others to dictate its relations with Tehran.
Shahin Gobadi of Iran’s National Council of Resistance based in Paris, France, also hailed Albania’s expulsion of the two diplomats as “a very necessary and courageous act.”
Albania is home to 2,500 members of the Iranian opposition group in exile Mujahedin-e Khalk, who moved from Iraq.
Gobadi said “The clerical regime’s embassies in Europe are centers of terrorist acts against the dissidents.”
He said two plots of the Iranian regime were foiled, one in Albania — an attempt to bomb the Nowruz (Iranian New Year) celebration in March — and the other in a gathering of Iranians in Paris in June, and “the regime*s embassies and diplomats played a major role in both of these foiled terror plots.”
Private Top Channel television reported that the Iranians were suspected of illegal activities related to a World Cup qualifying match between Albania and Israel two years ago.
Albanian media also hinted that cancelation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Albania in November could have been related to a possible plot against him.
Earlier this year, a court in neighboring Kosovo sentenced nine Albanians for planning a foiled attack against the Israeli soccer team during the match in Albania.


Afghan security forces fail to reach ‘Taliban-mined’ site of US military plane crash

Updated 28 January 2020

Afghan security forces fail to reach ‘Taliban-mined’ site of US military plane crash

  • Probe launched into cause of Monday’s incident as Taliban claim responsibility for shooting down jet

KABUL: Afghan security forces have so far been unable to reach the crash site of a US military aircraft which went down during a mission on Monday in a Taliban-controlled area of the country.
An investigation is underway to determine what caused the Bombardier E-11A plane to crash in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, about 120 km southwest of Kabul, although the Taliban have claimed responsibility for shooting it down.

“The Taliban have mined the area, and security forces could not make it to the site to retrieve the bodies and recover the aircraft last evening. The Taliban had laid an ambush as security forces tried to reach the site,” Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of Ghazni’s provincial council, told Arab News.
He added that other US aircraft had attempted to land in the area overnight but were forced back due to bad weather.
Aref Noori, a spokesman for Ghanzi’s governor, said: “Afghan and foreign forces are preparing a joint plan to go to the site to see what they can do.”
Authorities have yet to determine how many passengers and crew were on board.
Several members of the provincial council said they had heard from locals that four people on board the plane had escaped the site of the crash soon after it came down. However, the reports could not be confirmed by the US military or other officials.
The crash comes amid a push by the Taliban and US diplomats to restart peace talks which are aimed at ending the 18-year-old conflict in the country.