A couple of notable meetings on Sunday in New York, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif maneuvered on both the nuclear issue and the Iraqi and Syrian crises….
Amid talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers for a comprehensive nuclear agreement, Zarif met US Secretary of State John Kerry, the first discussion between the men since July’s last round of negotiations.
No details were released. A State Department spokesman put out the pro forma statement:
They discussed both the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done….[Kerry] noted that this week is an opportunity to make additional progress and stressed that it is our intention to do so.
However, the more significant encounter may have been a one-hour meeting between Zarif and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal.
Since its inauguration in August 2013, the Rouhani Government has been pursuing engagement with the Saudis, at odds with the Iranians over a series of regional issues as well as Tehran’s nuclear program. As Rouhani and Zarif spokes of their hopes for a high-level summit, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani carried out back-channel communications with Riyadh.
The effort was hindered by Saudi caution and opposition from hardliners with Iran. However, the emergence of the Islamic State as a threat to both countries — as well as the diplomatic moves for a “coalition” to counter the jihadists — altered the landscape for discussions.
Last week, the US excluded Iran from an international conference on Iraq and the Islamic State, claiming the Saudis had objected to the Iranian presence. Tehran maintains that it rebuffed an American approach for participation.
Behind the rhetoric, one of the major sticking points is Syria, where Iran is backing the Assad regime in the 42-month conflict. Tehran wants Saudi Arabia and the US to drop support of the Syrian opposition in return for Iran’s cooperation in Iraq.
Iranian Navy: 4 Days of Joint Exercises With China From Monday
Iranian admirals have said that four days of joint exercises have begun with two Chinese warships who docked at Iran’s principal naval port this weekend.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua said Beijing’s destroyers, involved in protection of shipping in the Gulf of Aden, docked at Bandar Abbas for a “friendly visit”.
Iranian news media said the joint mission would focus on rescue operations.
Speaker of Parliament Lashes Out at US “Modern Fraud” Over Nuclear Talks
Posturing or a sign of trouble in the nuclear talks? Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, addressing MPs on Sunday, accused US officials of a “modern fraud” with their “cheap words”.
Larijani said Iran would accept no restrictions on its nuclear program and no provisions that were not applied to other countries.
He declared, “If the US is taking such actions as psychological maneuvers, they should understand that Iran is committed to logic in nuclear talks and is not interested in useless political gestures of the US.”
Report: Detained Opposition Leader Mousavi Has Eye Surgery
The Kalemeh website reports that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, under strict house arrest since February 2011, has undergone eye surgery at a specialized health center.
Mousavi was accompanied by his wife, academic and activist Zahra Rahnavard, who has been detained with him. Their three daughters were not allowed into the health center.
Mousavi was the main challenger to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed 2009 Presidential election. Mehdi Karroubi, who also was a candidate, remains under strict house arrest after 43 months.
Rouhani: “We Are Not Fearful of Enemy Pressures”
At a military ceremony opening Sacred Defense Week — the commemoration of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War — President Rouhani has issued a statement of defiance while professing his peaceful intentions and praising the Islamic Republic’s armed forces:
We are not fearful of enemy pressures.
Iranians are a peace-loving nation that has, does and will never plan to invade any other country because we do not want to have more food at the table through launching war and manufacturing weapons — like what is done by some western countries that gain more food for their table by [shedding] the blood of other nations.
The Defense Ministry also talked tough in its formal statement: “The Sacred Defense of the Iranian nation broke into pieces the myth that world’s hegemonic superpowers are invincible and presented an instructive and inspiring example to the oppressed nations and societies.”
By EA WorldView
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