Iran news headlines on Wednesday include releasing of former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi from prison; Iran offering to lend money to Egypt; Iran facing oil-cash squeeze as US intensifying sanctions; Russia expressing hope to see ‘serious progress’ at Iran nuclear talks and China calling on Iran and the P5+1 to strive for progress in talks.
A once-feared prosecutor at the center of a row between two of Iran’s most powerful figures was freed from two days’ detention on Wednesday, adding a new twist to a political drama Iran watchers expect to intensify before presidential polls in June.
Neither the arrest nor the release of the former judicial official, Saeed Mortazavi, have been accompanied by any public explanation from the authorities.
Iran has offered to lend money to cash-strapped Egypt despite being under international economic sanctions itself over its nuclear program, visiting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted on Wednesday as saying.
The two countries do not have diplomatic relations but Egypt’s first Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome on Tuesday when he became the first Iranian leader to visit in more than 34 years.
Iran faces a fresh obstacle to turning its most lucrative export into cash as the U.S. tightens sanctions this week to keep importers from paying for the oil with dollars and euros.
Under penalty of expulsion from the U.S. banking system, Iranian crude customers such as China, Japan and India will be restricted to using their own currencies for the purchases, starting today. Importers will be compelled to keep the payments in escrow accounts that Iran can use only for locally sourced goods and services, in what will amount to barter arrangements.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman on Wednesday called on Iran and the P5+1 to strive for progress in talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program to be held on Feb. 26 in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing that a Chinese delegation will attend the talks.
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