Iran vows to take ‘any opportunity’ to lift US sanctions

Iran vows to take ‘any opportunity’ to lift US sanctions
While the outgoing Trump has declared Iran an arch-foe and sought to isolate it globally, president-elect Biden has proposed to offer Iran a “credible path back to diplomacy.” (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 November 2020

Iran vows to take ‘any opportunity’ to lift US sanctions

Iran vows to take ‘any opportunity’ to lift US sanctions
  • Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018
  • The measures have all but deprived Iran of vital oil revenues and isolated its banks

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani vowed Wednesday to take “any opportunity” to lift US sanctions against Tehran, following President Donald Trump’s defeat by Democratic election rival Joe Biden.
While the outgoing Trump has declared Iran an arch-foe and sought to isolate it globally, president-elect Biden has proposed to offer Iran a “credible path back to diplomacy.”
“Our aim is to lift the pressure of sanctions from the shoulders of our people,” Rouhani said in televised remarks during a weekly cabinet meeting.
“Wherever this favorable opportunity arises we will act on our responsibilities. No one should miss any opportunity.”
“National security and national interests are not factional and partisan issues,” Rouhani added, after conservatives blasted his reformist and moderate coalition for its “over-excitement” for re-engagement with the Islamic republic’s nemesis.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US will sanction any individual or entity cooperating with the Iranian regime will be subjected to Iranian sanctions.
“We remain firmly committed to countering any activity that threatens our national security,” he tweeted, adding: “Our message is clear: If you do business with Iranian proliferators, you risk US sanctions.”

Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed, then reinforced, crippling sanctions.
Those moves torpedoed the deal, Rouhani’s signature foreign policy achievement, and bolstered conservatives who argue that the US cannot be trusted.
The measures have all but deprived Iran of vital oil revenues and isolated its banks, triggering a harsh recession and slashing the value of the rial.
Rouhani acknowledged Biden’s conciliatory remarks during his campaign but said Tehran was prepared for sanctions to remain in place.
“They can choose a new path. And if they do not want to, it is their choice,” he told the cabinet.
He noted that his administration had devised its policies on the assumption Trump would stay in office.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that the result of the US election would have “no effect” on Tehran’s policies toward Washington.

 


EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
Updated 22 min 41 sec ago

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
  • Turkey faces threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara’s human rights record.
Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
“We have seen an improvement in the overall atmosphere,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said as he welcomed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks, describing 2020 as complicated.
“Intentions and announcements need to be translated into actions,” Borrell said.
The improved tone follows a video conference between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Jan. 9 in which both stressed the importance of the bilateral relationship.
Cavusoglu said he hoped von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the head of the European Council which represents the 27 EU member states, would visit Turkey after an invitation from Erdogan.
“It is of course important for there to be a positive atmosphere in Turkey-EU ties, but in order for this to be sustainable, we must take concrete steps,” Cavusoglu added.
2020 proved particularly difficult for relations between Turkey and the EU, especially France, with Erdogan expressing publicly his hope that protests in French cities would topple President Emmanuel Macron.
Greece and Cyprus, strongly backed by France, want to punish Turkey for what they see as provocative oil and gas exploration by Turkish vessels in disputed waters, but Germany and Italy are reluctant to go ahead with any sanctions on Ankara.
Turkey has now withdrawn the vessels and is set to restart talks with Greece, although the EU has accused Ankara of playing “cat and mouse” in a pattern of provocation and reconciliation.
EU leaders will decide in March whether to impose sanctions.
Brussels also accuses Erdogan of undermining the economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts and media, leaving Turkey’s bid to join the EU further away than ever.
“We remain concerned about the (human rights) situation in Turkey,” Borrell said on Thursday.
The European Parliament is expected on Thursday to back a resolution calling for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, a leading Kurdish politician jailed in 20216 on terrorism-related charges.
But Turkey remains a big destination for EU trade and investment and also hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees. The EU aims to agree fresh funds for the refugees from 2022 to discourage them from coming into the bloc.
Ankara wants progress on Turks’ right to visa-free travel to the EU, an upgrade of its trade agreement with Europe and recognition of its claims to hydrocarbons off its maritime shelf.