Iran is ‘ready’ to swap more prisoners with US

 Iran is ‘ready’ to swap more prisoners with US
Iranian doctor based in Florida Majid Taheri, left, is welcomed by an Iranian Foreign Ministry official as his wife stands at right, upon arrival at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport from the U.S. after being part of a swap that saw a U.S. Navy veteran held by Iran return to America, Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 08 June 2020

Iran is ‘ready’ to swap more prisoners with US

 Iran is ‘ready’ to swap more prisoners with US
  • Iranian scientist Majid Taheri returned home Monday after his release from jail in the United States as part of a prisoner exchange
  • The scientist was freed on Thursday as Iran released US Navy veteran Michael White

Iran was ready to swap “other prisoners” with the United States, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

The statement came as the two countries exchanged prisoners this week. Iranian scientist Majid Taheri returned home Monday after his release from jail in the United States as part of a prisoner exchange, semi-official news agency ISNA reported. The scientist, who had been detained in the United States for 16 months, was freed on Thursday as Iran released US Navy veteran Michael White.

“If the possibility of exchanging prisoners exists, we have the readiness to free the rest of the individuals who are imprisoned and return them to the country,” Mousavi was cited by state news agency IRNA reported.

Taheri was greeted at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport by deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, said ISNA, which published a picture of the pair speaking to reporters.
“I hope to see the release of (other Iranians imprisoned abroad) in the near future,” Ansari said, adding his ministry would do its best to achieve this.
Taheri for his part thanked Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“I thank the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and dear officials, including Mr. Zarif, who worked hard, and other officials who took months to help release me, as an Iranian physician accused of circumventing US sanctions on medicine,” he was quoted as saying.
Taheri was the second scientist to have returned to Iran from the United States in the past week, after Cyrus Asgari flew home on Wednesday.
A US federal judge issued an order to free Taheri — an Iranian-American who had been working at clinic in Tampa, Florida — on time served.
Taheri had been accused of violating US sanctions by sending a technical item to Iran and in December pleaded guilty to charges he violated financial reporting requirements by depositing $277,344 at a bank, repeatedly showing up with loose cash, according to court documents.
On Monday he rejected accusations against him as “unfair and false,” according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
“I was helping the University of Tehran to develop a cancer vaccine, especially for women,” he was quoted as saying.

Thanking the Swiss Embassy in Tehran for its role in the recent swap, Mousavi noted, “If the Swiss government continues to cooperate, we are ready to repatriate the rest of the Iranians who are in US custody,” according to Radio Farda

Since Washington severed its diplomatic relations with Tehran in 1979, the Swiss Embassy in Iran has been in charge of protecting US interests in the Islamic Republic.
Iran-US tensions have soared in recent years as President Donald Trump has pursued a campaign of “maximum pressure” against America’s sworn arch enemy.
Since unilaterally withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Trump has hit the Islamic republic with sweeping sanctions.
The two sides appeared to come to the brink of a direct conflict for the second time in less than a year in January, when Trump ordered an air strike that killed one of Iran’s top generals, Qasem Soliemani.


Taliban leaders, US envoy meet in Doha

Taliban leaders, US envoy meet in Doha
Updated 25 min 57 sec ago

Taliban leaders, US envoy meet in Doha

Taliban leaders, US envoy meet in Doha
  • ‘Both sides expressed their commitment to the Doha agreement and discussed its full implementation’

DOHA: Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan met with the Taliban in Qatar, the insurgents said Saturday, as efforts intensify to revive a peace process faced with mounting violence and a US troop withdrawal deadline.
The envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks earlier this week with Afghan leaders in Kabul, including President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation which oversees the government’s talks with the insurgents in Qatar.
Taliban spokesman Muhamad Naeem tweeted that Khalilzad and the top US general in Afghanistan met with the insurgents’ negotiating team in Doha, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, late Friday.
“Both sides expressed their commitment to the Doha agreement and discussed its full implementation. Likewise, the current situation of Afghanistan and the rapidity and effectiveness of the Intra-Afghan negotiations were discussed,” he wrote.
Speculation is rife over America’s future in Afghanistan, after the White House announced plans to review a withdrawal deal brokered by Khalilzad and the Taliban in Doha last year.
Under that agreement, the US is set to withdraw from Afghanistan in May, but a surge in fighting has sparked concerns that a speedy exit may unleash greater chaos as peace talks between the Kabul government and Taliban continue to stall.
The accord states that the US will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, with the Taliban promising not to allow territory to be used by terrorists – the original goal of the US invasion following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Khalilzad’s visit marks the first time he has publicly returned to Qatar since US President Joe Biden took office in January and asked him to stay on in his post.


6 Ukrainians die, dozens injured in bus crash in Poland

6 Ukrainians die, dozens injured in bus crash in Poland
Updated 46 min 19 sec ago

6 Ukrainians die, dozens injured in bus crash in Poland

6 Ukrainians die, dozens injured in bus crash in Poland
  • The accident occurred around midnight on the A4 motorway near the town of Jaroslaw
  • There was no immediate cause given for the accident

WARSAW, Poland: A bus carrying dozens of Ukrainian citizens rolled off an embankment into a ditch in Poland, killing six people and injuring 41, Polish media reported on Saturday.
The accident occurred around midnight on the A4 motorway near the town of Jaroslaw, which is in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine.
TNV24, a private all-news station, reported that the bus had a Ukrainian license plate and was traveling with 57 Ukrainian citizens, including two drivers.
A large rescue operation early Saturday involved dozens of firefighters, paramedics and helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals.
There was no immediate cause given for the accident.
Ukrainians travel for work to Poland, a European Union state on Ukraine’s western border. Ukrainians fill gaps in the labor market in Poland, which has experienced fast economic growth in recent years.


Iranian militias claim to have active cells in Washington DC: Fox News

Iranian militias claim to have active cells in Washington DC: Fox News
Updated 8 min 3 sec ago

Iranian militias claim to have active cells in Washington DC: Fox News

Iranian militias claim to have active cells in Washington DC: Fox News
  • Additional claims that terror factions associated with Iran are growing stronger and attracting more support

DUBAI: Iranian militia groups have active cells operating in the US capital Washington DC and other US cities, according to chatrooms used by the groups.
Kawtheryoon Electronic Team, a Telegram network used by Iranian militia groups and supporters, claimed in a recent posting that Iranian “resistance cells are rooted even in America and its capital,” Fox News reported, citing a copy of the English-language posting captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which tracks radical groups.
The militia additionally claimed that terror factions associated with Iran are growing stronger and attracting more support than ever before, as they demanded a withdraw all of American troops from Iraq and the Middle East.
The Telegram post included a picture of caskets containing US soldiers, Fox News said.
The claims of Iranian terrorist cells being present in the US comes as the Biden administration seeks to directly engage Iran in pursuit of inking a revamped nuclear accord.
President Joe Biden has earlier said Iran must cut its uranium enrichment before any return to talks over the Iranian regime’s nuclear program.
Iran nonetheless continues to sponsor terrorism, Fox News reported, and has shown no signs of backing down from its active operations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and other Middle Eastern hotspots.
It also has continued to support strikes on US personnel stationed in Iraq, and was likely behind a Wednesday rocket attack on an Iraqi air base that houses American troops, it added.


Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott

Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott
Updated 06 March 2021

Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott

Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott
  • Khan was able to secure 178 votes, against the 172 required to win confidence
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan won a vote of confidence from parliament on Saturday in a session marked by opposition boycott and protest.
Khan was able to secure 178 votes, against the 172 required to win confidence, the speaker of the house announced.
Khan had himself volunteered to seek parliament’s confidence after the government’s finance minister lost a high-profile Senate seat election earlier in the week.

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths
Updated 06 March 2021

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths
  • The government’s coronavirus taskforce said that 441 people had died in the last 24 hours

MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday reported 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,820 in Moscow, taking the national case tally to 4,312,181 since the pandemic began.
The government’s coronavirus taskforce said that 441 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the Russian death toll to 88,726.