Iran says to deliver ‘final’ nuclear talks proposal Monday

Iran says to deliver ‘final’ nuclear talks proposal Monday
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said nuclear deal can be revived if Tehran’s demands are met. (AFP)
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Updated 15 August 2022

Iran says to deliver ‘final’ nuclear talks proposal Monday

Iran says to deliver ‘final’ nuclear talks proposal Monday
  • Iran may accept a final compromise worked out in Vienna to save the landmark 2015 deal
  • Tehran said US agreed to two of its demands

TEHRAN: Iran will respond to the European Union’s “final” draft text to save a 2015 nuclear deal by midnight on Monday, its foreign minister said, calling on the United States to show flexibility to resolve three remaining issues.
After 16 months of fitful, indirect US-Iranian talks, with the EU shuttling between the parties, a senior EU official said on Aug. 8 it had laid down a “final” offer and expected a response within a “very, very few weeks.”
While Washington has said it is ready to quickly seal a deal to restore the 2015 accord on the basis of the EU proposals, Iranian negotiators said Tehran’s “additional views and considerations” to the EU text would be conveyed later.
“Our answer will be given to the EU tonight at 12 midnight...There are three issues that if resolved, we can reach an agreement in the coming days,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, suggesting Tehran’s response would not be a final acceptance or rejection of the EU proposal.
“We have told them that our red lines should be respected...We have shown enough flexibility...We do not want to reach a deal that after 40 days, two months or three months fails to be materialized on the ground.”
Diplomats and officials told Reuters that whether or not Tehran and Washington accept the EU’s “final” offer, neither is likely to declare the pact dead because keeping it alive serves both sides’ interests.
Amirabdollahian said that “the coming days are very important” to see whether the United States will show flexibility over the remaining three issues.
“It would not be end of the world if they fail to show flexibility...Then we will need more efforts and talks...to resolve the remaining issues,” he said.
The stakes are high, since failure in the nuclear negotiations would carry the risk of a fresh regional war with Israel threatening military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to prevent Tehran develop a nuclear weapons capability.
Tehran, which has long denied having such ambition, has warned of a “crushing” response to any Israeli attack.
“Like Washington, we have our own plan B if the talks fail,” Amirabdollahian said.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump reneged on the deal reached before he took office, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh US sanctions, spurring the Islamic Republic to begin breaching its limits on uranium enrichment.
The 2015 agreement appeared on the verge of revival in March after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and US President Joe Biden’s administration in Vienna.
But talks broke down over obstacles including Tehran’s demand that Washington provide guarantees that no US president would abandon the deal as Trump did.
Biden cannot promise this because the nuclear deal is a non-binding political understanding, not a legally binding treaty.
“They need to adopt a realistic approach about guarantees. Regarding the two other remaining issues, they have shown some relative flexibility verbally, but it needs to be mentioned in the text,” Amirabdollahian said.


Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks
Updated 5 min 25 sec ago

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks
  • Saudi Arabia is implementing a project to drill and operate 10 replacement wells using solar energy in Aden
  • Kuwait-funded projects are being established under Altwasul for Human Development to serve the displaced in Marib

ADEN: Yemeni officials reviewed humanitarian projects as the government seeks to intensify relief efforts amid a renewed escalation in conflict after the Houthis refused to extend the United Nations-brokered truce.
On Tuesday, Saudi Program for Yemen’s Development and Reconstruction briefed officials on a project to drill and operate 10 replacement wells using solar energy in Aden.
The team also reviewed the proposed sites for a solar-powered seawater desalination plant with a capacity of 10,000 cubic meters a day.
“Such projects will largely contribute to enhancing water security in Aden,” said Engr. Mohammed Bakhbeira, director general of the Local Water and Sanitation Corporation in Aden.
Abd Rabbo Muftah, the Undersecretary of Marib governorate, also reviewed some ongoing Kuwait-funded projects being established under Altwasul for Human Development to serve the critical needs of the displaced and the host community in the province.
He was briefed on the progress of a women and children hospital north of Marib, which was 20 percent complete, and the efforts to install a $500,000 oxygen plant in a public hospital with a capacity of 300 cylinders a day.
Badr Ma’awn, Secretary-General of the Local Council in Aden, meanwhile reviewed the implementation of humanitarian projects under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He praised the UN’s efforts in assisting war-affected families and the displaced in Aden amid the current situation in Yemen.
Heavy fighting has earlier erupted between government troops and Houthis across Yemen after the Iran-backed group refused to renew a UN-brokered truce that expired on Sunday.
The fiercest battles took place outside the central city of Marib and in Al-Fakher area of Dhale province, according to officials.


Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’
Updated 11 sec ago

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’
  • Britain’s foreign ministry had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires over crackdown on protests

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran in reaction to “interventionist comments” from the British foreign ministry, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Wednesday.
“The British side, by issuing unilateral statements, shows that it has a role in the belligerent scenarios of terrorists active against the Islamic Republic,” the director general of Western Europe at Iran’s foreign ministry added, after saying that London’s remarks on Iran’s internal affairs were “based on fake and provocative interpretations.”
Britain’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires, Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain, over the crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
The British envoy in Tehran was summoned on Tuesday.
The Iranian official added Tehran will consider possible options in response to any unusual actions from Britain.
A 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 by the morality police in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire.”


Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms
Updated 27 min 8 sec ago

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms
  • Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak
  • The US has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been allowed to leave Iran and his son has been granted furlough from prison, the State Department said Wednesday, confirming their release.
Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in February 2016 when the 85-year-old went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
The United States has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans amid efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major Western powers.
“Wrongfully detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been permitted to depart Iran, and his son Siamak, also wrongfully detained, has been granted furlough from prison,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP.
It added that the older Namazi “was unjustly detained in Iran and then not permitted to leave the county after serving his sentence, despite his repeated requirement for urgent medical attention.”
“We understand that the lifting of the travel ban and his son’s furlough were related to his medical requirement.”
The United Nations said last week that the pair had been allowed to leave Iran, after an appeal from its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Baquer Namazi was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.
At least two other American citizens are currently held in Iran.
Businessman Emad Sharqi was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison for espionage, and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who is also a British national, was arrested in 2018 and released on bail in July.
A drive to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in late November last year, after talks were suspended in June as Iran elected ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
The 2015 deal — agreed by Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
But the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under president Donald Trump and reimposed biting economic sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin rolling back on its commitments.
On Sunday, the United States rejected Iranian reports that Tehran’s release of US citizens would lead to the unfreezing of Iranian funds abroad.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
But the State Department dismissed any such link as “categorically false.”
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed sanctions.


Lebanon suggests amendments to maritime border deal with Israel

Lebanon suggests amendments to maritime border deal with Israel
Updated 05 October 2022

Lebanon suggests amendments to maritime border deal with Israel

Lebanon suggests amendments to maritime border deal with Israel

BEIRUT: Lebanon has submitted to the US a list of changes it would like to see in a proposal on how to delineate a contested maritime border with Israel, a top Lebanese official said on Tuesday.
US envoy Amos Hochstein has shuttled between Lebanon and Israel since 2020 to seal a deal that would pave the way for offshore energy exploration and defuse a potential source of conflict between Israel and Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Hochstein sent a draft proposal to Beirut last week. It was discussed on Monday by President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Deputy speaker of parliament Elias Bou Saab said he had earlier that day submitted to the US ambassador in Lebanon the amendments Beirut would like to see, without providing details.


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Will maritime-border settlement imply Lebanon’s indirect recognition of Israel?


He said he does not think the proposed changes would derail the deal and that, while the response did not signify approval of the draft, talks were so advanced that “we are done negotiating.”
Speaking to local broadcaster LBCI, he said the draft deal had been produced by thinking “outside of the box.”
“We started to talk about it as a business deal,” Bou Saab said.
The 10-page draft appears to float an arrangement whereby gas would be produced by a company under a Lebanese license in the disputed Qana prospect, with Israel receiving a share of revenues.

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While that company has been officially named, Lebanese officials have publicly suggested a role for TotalEnergies SE . A top Israeli official was meeting company representatives in Paris on Monday, according to a source briefed on the matter.
Bou Saab on Tuesday said that, according to the draft deal, Lebanon had secured all of the maritime blocs it considered its own.
He added that Lebanon will not pay one cent from its share of Qana to Israel.

 

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Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with sultan in Oman

Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with sultan in Oman
Updated 04 October 2022

Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with sultan in Oman

Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with sultan in Oman
  • King Abdullah expressed appreciation for Oman’s efforts to bolster security and stability in the region
  • Two leaders agreed to advance joint economic cooperation in trade, investment, and industry

RIYADH: Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq on Tuesday expressed keenness to bolster bilateral relations in all fields during a meeting in Muscat.

During talks held at Al-Alam Palace in Muscat, the two leaders agreed to advance joint economic cooperation in trade, investment, and industry, Jordan News Agency reported.

King Abdullah and Sultan Haitham stressed the need to step up the trade exchange between their countries and called for the Oman-Jordan Joint Committee to reconvene after the king’s visit.

The importance of bolstering cooperation between the private sectors in the two countries and maintaining coordination and consultation on various issues of mutual concern including food security and energy was also discussed.

King Abdullah expressed appreciation for Oman’s continuous efforts to bolster security and stability in the region.

The monarch also highlighted the importance of supporting the Palestinians to seek their just and legitimate rights, and the need to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution.

The meeting was attended by Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah II.