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News - MENA News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-15 18:59:48
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he was confident Barack Obama would be able to get Congress to approve a nuclear deal with Iran after the U.S. president acknowledged lawmakers would have the power to review an accord with Tehran. "Looming large is the challenge of finishing the negotiation with Iran over the course of the next two and a half months," Kerry said after arriving in Germany for a Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in the northern city of Luebeck. "Yesterday there was a compromise reached in Washington regarding congressional input. We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement and to do so with the ability to make the world safer," he added. In what was seen as a setback for Obama, the U.S. president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review any deal with Iran, giving in to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party over the barbed issue. The role for the Republican-controlled Congress injects a new element of uncertainty into the delicate final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the G7 foreign ministers would discuss the Iran talks during their meeting in Luebeck, especially now that Kerry had arrived. "(We'll deal with)... the result between the American administration and Congress, which has a certain influence on whether the final agreement with Iran can succeed by June 30 or not," Steinmeier said. He said the foreign ministers would listen to Kerry's assessment of negotiations with Iran and how the prospect of congressional approval might affect them. Speaking in Iran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Wednesday that Tehran would not let U.S. domestic politics derail the nuclear talks. "That is an issue related to their domestic affairs. We are dealing with the American government," Afkham told a news conference carried by Iranian state television. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-15 18:52:25
Iran said Wednesday it would only accept a deal over its contested nuclear programme if world powers simultaneously lifted all sanctions imposed on it. The comments by President Hassan Rouhani came the day after U.S. President Barack Obama was forced to give Congress a say in any future accord -- including the right of lawmakers to veto the lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.S. Bolstering the role of a highly assertive Congress injects an element of uncertainty into the crucial final stages of negotiations between major powers and Iran, which are aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from sanctions. "If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement," Rouhani said in a televised speech in the northern Iranian city of Rasht, echoing remarks made last week by Iran's most powerful authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran," said Rouhani, who is widely viewed as a pragmatist. A tentative deal between Iran and the six world powers was reached in Switzerland on April 2, and aimed at clearing the way for a final settlement on June 30. Discussions will resume on April 21. However, different interpretations have emerged over what was agreed in the framework, suggesting that nailing down a final agreement will be tough, even without the added complication of Congress. Many Congressmen have been highly critical of the U.S.-led negotiations, supporting Israel, which has said the framework proposal will not prevent Iran from developing atomic arms. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. U.S. REASSURANCE While Israel said it was pleased with the move by Congress, Rouhani said it was a domestic U.S. issue that should have no bearing on the negotiations between Iran, the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China. "What the U.S. Senate, Congress and others say is not our problem," Rouhani said. "We want mutual respect ... We are in talks with the major powers and not with the Congress." Looking to reassure his various negotiating partners, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday he was confident Obama would be able to get Congress to approve the final deal. "Looming large is the challenge of finishing the negotiation with Iran over the course of the next two and a half months," Kerry said after arriving in Germany for a meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers. "We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement and to do so with the ability to make the world safer," he said. Obama has invested enormous political capital throughout his presidency in securing an accord to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, relying on tight sanctions that crippled Iran's economy and forced it to negotiate. Some U.S. lawmakers who had objected to the earlier bill, but agreed to the compromise, said the administration had assured them the bill would not interfere with the negotiations. "The administration has assured me that (Tuesday’s) vote will not impede negotiators’ ability to do their jobs and work toward a final deal with Iran," said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. A combination of U.S. and EU sanctions have choked off nearly 1.5 million barrels per day of Iranian exports since early 2012, reducing its oil exports by 60 percent to around 1 million barrels a day. While Iran denies its nuclear program has any military element, it has never welcomed intrusive inspections and has in the past kept some nuclear sites secret. A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for scheduled technical talks, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Talks with the IAEA run parallel to the negotiations with world powers. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-14 16:52:43
Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers is set to resume on April 21 at the deputy level, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday, in what will be the first meeting since a major breakthrough two weeks ago. Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany reached a preliminary deal on Iran's disputed nuclear program this month and are aiming to reach a final accord by the end of June. "My colleagues, with the deputy to (European Union foreign policy chief) Federica Mogherini and other political directors from the E3+3 will get together next Tuesday to start drafting," Zarif said during a visit to Madrid. E3+3 or EU3+3 is one of the names for the group of countries negotiating with Iran, also known as the P5+1. Despite the progress made in the last round of talks, several disagreements remain between the two sides, including how quickly sanctions would be lifted and whether Iran would be able to use advanced centrifuges under a final deal. "That's a difficult exercise, particularly with all the lawyers involved in the process and looking at the nitty-gritty of every word that is written down," Zarif said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged countries which imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program to keep a unified approach to removing them, adding that there was still lots of work to do. The previous round of talks, an eight-day marathon held in the Swiss city of Lausanne, ran past its initial deadline and there was no certainty of a breakthrough until the final hours. Zarif did not specify where the coming round of talks would take place. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-14 09:51:38
Libya is planning to offer investors projects to rebuild cities under the control of the government during an economic conference in Egypt scheduled in May, Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni told Sputnik. “During the economic conference in Egypt next month, a call for investors will be made on rebuilding [cities] in the region under the control of the legitimate government,” Thinni said on the eve of his official visit to Russia on April 14. Thinni said that the reconstruction of buildings could begin in the country’s east and priorities should be schools and universities, and especially the University of Benghazi, which would most likely need to be leveled. The prime minister said Russian investors and companies would be offered an opportunity to come to Libya and see the sites for themselves, which should show them that Libya is a safe and stable country. "We need a number of companies, including those specializing in construction, security – to protect all airports and sea ports, as well as firms that can help restore the infrastructure in the country," Thinni said. Thinni is expected in Moscow on April 14 to discuss a number of security and economic issues, and ways Russia can assist in the process. On March 13, Libyan Army General Khalifa Haftar told Sputnik that the delegation visiting Russia would discuss arms deliveries to the country. Turmoil in Libya increased after the overthrow of long-standing leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 amid anti-government protests, with government forces trying to fend off different militias. The internationally recognized government of Libya in the city of Tobruk, the Council of Deputies, faces opposition from the self-proclaimed General National Congress in capital Tripoli. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-12 12:37:49
Unidentified gunmen fired shots at the South Korean embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sunday, killing two local security guards, South Korean and Libyan officials reported. Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said they were behind the attack, according to a statement on social media. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the claim. The gunmen fired from a car at the embassy compound, killing two security officers who were Libyan government employees and wounding another, Tripoli security spokesman Essam Naas said. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-12 12:30:47
Saudi Arabia dismissed Iranian calls for an end to its air strikes on neighboring Yemen on Sunday, saying Tehran should not interfere in the ongoing conflict. Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began air strikes against Iranian-allied Houthi militia fighters in Yemen more than two weeks ago, to try and prevent them making further advances. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-12 10:10:48
U.S. President Barack Obama expressed Saturday his optimism that major world powers and Iran could finalize a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program despite strong words this week from the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Obama downplayed Khamenei's demands that a final deal result in an end to all sanctions on Iran, telling reporters at the Americas summit in Panama that Khamenei and others in Iran were addressing their own internal politics. "Even a guy with the title 'Supreme Leader' has to be concerned about his own constituencies," Obama said. "There may be ways of structuring a final deal that satisfy their pride, their optics, their politics, but meet our core practical objectives," Obama said at the news conference. Iran and world powers reached a framework nuclear agreement on April 2 that would require Iran to shut down parts of its nuclear program that could be used to build a bomb, and accept intrusive inspections, in exchange for the West lifting economic sanctions. Negotiators need to finalize technical details by June 30. "What I've always said, though, is that there's the possibility of backsliding," Obama said, noting the final deal would require tough talks and may not result in a deal that he would sign. But he blasted some U.S. Republican senators who have argued against the deal, including Arizona Senator John McCain, who told a conservative radio show this week that he found Khamenei's interpretation of the deal more credible than that of Secretary of State John Kerry, who has said sanctions would be lifted in phases and "snap back" in place if the deal is violated. "That's not how we're supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who is president or secretary of state," Obama said. Obama said he has talked to the top Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate Foreign Relations committee about the role for the U.S. Congress in assessing the final deal. Kerry is expected to brief lawmakers this week. "What I'm concerned about is making sure that we don't prejudge it, or those who are opposed to any deal whatsoever try to use a procedural argument essentially to screw up the possibility of a deal," Obama said. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-12 09:41:07
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has relieved the country's Health Minister Ahmed al-Khatib of his post, removing a second minister handling social welfare issues in the space of a month as he reshapes the cabinet soon after coming to the throne. Mohammed bin Abdulmalik bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh will be acting health minister, state news agency SPA said in a brief report on Saturday. It did not say why Khatib was relieved. In early March, Salman removed the housing minister, a day after pledging to speed efforts to end a shortage of homes in his first address to the nation since becoming monarch in late January. This followed a cabinet reshuffle in late January in which Salman appointed new ministers to several portfolios including agriculture, education and information. He also reorganized the policy-making apparatus, abolishing some committees and creating a new economic council chaired by his son. Social welfare problems such as a lack of affordable housing, uneven provision of health care and unemployment are key political issues in Saudi Arabia. Since taking the throne, Salman has appeared willing to tackle them aggressively. Last month the cabinet approved the politically sensitive idea of taxing undeveloped land in order to force more land out into the market and ease the housing shortage. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-12 07:48:48
When asked last year if he wants to be the Sudanese president for life, Omar Al-Bashir's answer to The Washington Post was "of course," citing problems and challenges that he believes would fend off anybody's interest in taking Sudan's helm. The 71-year-old incumbent president, whose intention to run for the presidency again was announced in October 2014, has the odds in his favour in the 13 April election, in which around 13.5 million people out of a population of around 35 million have registered to vote, according to Sudan's National Electoral Commission (NEC). Sudan's presidential race will include 15 candidates, but apart from Al-Bashir contenders have low profiles among the public. Most of the main opposition groups, including members of the Sudan Call agreement, such as the National Umma Party (NUP) of former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi, and the Popular Congress Party, in addition to civil society groups, have announced they will boycott the elections. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-04-11 08:04:51
Islamic State militants attacked the capital of Iraq's vast Anbar province on multiple fronts on Friday, seizing two areas on the city outskirts in a setback for a government campaign to retake the desert terrain. The jihadists deployed vehicle and suicide bombs to tear through Iraqi government lines north of the city of Ramadi overnight before attacking on foot, said security officials and a hospital source. The head of Anbar's provincial council, Sabah Karhout, called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send urgent military reinforcements and supplies to fighters, saying they were running low on ammunition. Abadi visited Anbar on Tuesday and declared the start of the operation to liberate the Sunni Muslim heartland, seeking to build on a victory over Islamic State last week in the city of Tikrit. More»