Tag Archives: minister

Iran foreign minister offers prisoner swap deal for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Iran foreign minister offers prisoner swap deal for Nazanin Zaghari-RatcliffeIran’s foreign minister has offered a prisoner exchange of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and an Iranian woman held in Australia on “phony charges”. Mohammed Javad Zarif, speaking at an event held by the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday, said the proposal was made to the US six months ago but he was now making it public. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, a British-Iranian who has been held in prison in Tehran on spying charges since 2016, was last month granted diplomatic protection by the UK government in an attempt to secure her release, with little effect. “We have an Iranian lady in Australia who gave birth in prison after she was arrested on an extradition request from the United States because she was responsible as a translator in the purchase of transmission equipment for (an) Iranian broadcasting company,” Mr Zarif said. While he did not name the woman, it is believed he was referring to Negar Ghodskani, who has been detained in Australia since 2017 on a charge of “conspiracy to export US-origin technology to Iran without the required licenses.” Video of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's arrest shown on Iranian state TV “She’s been lingering in an Australian jail for two years. We hear about Nazanin and her child. I feel sorry for them and I’ve done my best to help, but nobody talks about this lady in Australia whose child is growing up apart from its mother.” Mr Zarif said he “had the authority” to negotiate such a deal, adding that it should also include other Iranian nationals held on sanctions violation charges in the US: “I put this offer on the table publicly now. Exchange them. “We believe that their charges are phony. The United States believes charges against those in prison in Iran are phony.” He claimed he has not received an answer from the US administration after floating the idea six months ago. The comments mark the first public suggestion from the Iranian government that it would be willing to use Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was working at the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the time of her arrest, as diplomatic leverage. The issue of the mother-of-one’s citizenship has created an impasse between the two countries as Iran does not recognise dual nationality. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from Hampstead, north London, has complained of being denied access to medical care at Evin prison, going on a hunger strike earlier this year in protest. Her husband, Richard, said he was surprised by Mr Zarif's offer and that the UK government gave her protection precisely to protect her from being used as leverage. Mr Zarif, seen as a moderate inside the conservative Islamic Republic, also discussed Washington’s announcement on Monday that it would sanction all countries that buy Iranian oil, in a move meant to squeeze Iran's main source of revenue. Oil prices have hit their highest level since November, with the decision further tightening global supply. “(President Donald) Trump thinks he can bring us to our knees, but he is mistaken,” Mr Zarif warned. "We believe that Iran will continue to sell its oil. We will continue to find buyers for our oil and we will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz as a safe transit passage for the sale of our oil," he told the event in New York. "If the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that then it should be prepared for the consequences." He ended by saying that "it's not a crisis yet, but it's a dangerous situation. "Accidents, plotted accidents are possible."



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Sri Lanka bomb attacks were revenge for New Zealand mosque killings – minister

Sri Lanka bomb attacks were revenge for New Zealand mosque killings - ministerJunior minister for defense reveals findings of initial investigation, adding that two domestic Islamist groups were believed to be responsible.



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Isil claims Sri Lanka attack as prime minister says there are militants with explosives on the run

Isil claims Sri Lanka attack as prime minister says there are militants with explosives on the runSri Lanka's prime minister has warned there are more explosives and militants "out there" after the Easter suicide bombings that killed 321 people. Ranil Wickremesinghe made the comment Tuesday at a news conference, and said some officials will likely lose their jobs over intelligence lapses surrounding the attack. His warning came as Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terror attack on its official Amaq news agency. The group posted an image of seven masked attackers and the unmasked ringleader, Zahran Hashim, in front of its black flag. In a statement the men were named as Abu Ubaida – thought to refer to Hashim - Abu Khalil, Abu Hamza, Abu al-Baraa, Abu Muhammad, Abu Abdulla and Abu al-Mukhtar. Isis's official news agency, Amaq, posted this image of eight attackers, including the previously identified Zahran Hashim (centre) Sri Lanka's defence minister on Tuesday declared the attacks were retaliation for a recent attack on mosques in New Zealand, adding that two domestic Islamist groups were believed to be responsible. Ruwan Wijewardene’s comments were made as the South Asian island held its first mass funeral for about 30 of the victims of Sunday’s serial suicide bombings in three high profile churches and three luxury hotels. Sri Lankan intelligence has named the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks as Moulvi Zahran Hashim, an extremist local cleric who incited his followers to violence with fiery sermons on his social media channels. CCTV video shows suspected suicide bomber entering St Sebastian's Church in Negombo Isil's brief statement said they targeted “nationals of the Crusader alliance and Christians”, but made no specific reference to the New Zealand mosque attacks. At the same time, AFP agency reported that two Muslim brothers carried out two of the hotel suicide blasts. The brothers, sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader, blew themselves up as guests queued for breakfast at the Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand hotels in the capital Colombo. The brothers, whose names have not been revealed, were in their late twenties and operated their own "family cell", an investigation officer said. A suspected suicide bomber carries a backpack on a street in Negombo, Sri Lanka The Sri Lankan government revealed in 2016 that 32 Sri Lanka Muslims had travelled to Syria to join Isil. “All these (Muslims) are not from ordinary families. These people are from the families which are considered as well-educated and elite,” Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the country’s Justice Minister told parliament. said, adding that the government was aware of some foreigners coming to Sri Lanka to spread what he called Islamic extremism. A Syrian national was also arrested on Tuesday. It was not yet clear if he played a role in the attacks. Read more | Sri Lanka attacks Mr Wijewardene told the Sri Lankan parliament the massacre was carried out by the obscure local National Thawheed Jamaath group along with another group called the JMI, an apparent reference to a little-known radical Islamist group in India called the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. Some experts have pointed out that the sophisticated nature of the attacks suggest that they would have required preparation that began before the Christchurch atrocity. Little is known about JMI, other than reports it was established last year and is affiliated to a similarly named group in Bangladesh. "The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," said Mr Wijewardene. A suspected suicide bomber carries a backpack on a street in Negombo, Sri Lanka Fifty people were killed in shooting attacks on two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15, and horrific footage of the bloodbath was livestreamed on social media channels. The Sri Lankan authorities are still investigating how local militants gained the training and equipment to carry out an assault that is now considered to be one of the worst global terrorist atrocities since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. One theory is that Sri Lankan extremists could have been assisted by returning fighters from Iraq and Syria. It also emerged on Tuesday that Sri Lankan police are holding a Syrian national in custody for questioning over the Easter Sunday attacks. "The terrorist investigation division of the police arrested a Syrian national following the attacks for interrogation," a source told Reuters. Two other officials with knowledge of the investigation confirmed the detention. "He was arrested after interrogation of local suspects," a second source said. Police have now detained 40 suspects in connection with the attack. Sri Lanka attacks – Locator map The first mass funeral took place at St Sebastian church in Negombo, north of Colombo, which was one of the places targeted in Sunday's blasts. A moment of silence was observed at 08:30, to mark the timing of the first bomb on Sunday morning. Flags were lowered to half-mast and people, many of them in tears, bowed their heads in respect.



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Pakistan's Prime Minister Khan in Iran to talk security, ties

Pakistan's Prime Minister Khan in Iran to talk security, tiesPakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Iran on Sunday to discuss security and regional issues, Iranian state TV reported, a day after Islamabad urged Tehran to act against militants behind killings in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. A new umbrella group representing various insurgent groups operating in Baluchistan claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday when 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses in the province, which borders Iran. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday the training and logistical camps of the new alliance that carried out the attack were inside Iran and called for Iran to take action against the insurgents.



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Pakistan's Prime Minister Khan in Iran to talk security, ties

Pakistan's Prime Minister Khan in Iran to talk security, tiesPakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Iran on Sunday to discuss security and regional issues, Iranian state TV reported, a day after Islamabad urged Tehran to act against militants behind killings in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. A new umbrella group representing various insurgent groups operating in Baluchistan claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday when 14 passengers were killed after being kidnapped from buses in the province, which borders Iran. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday the training and logistical camps of the new alliance that carried out the attack were inside Iran and called for Iran to take action against the insurgents.



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French interior minister warns of yellow-vest riots on Saturday

French interior minister warns of yellow-vest riots on SaturdayThe French interior minister warned on Friday that violence could flare up on the 23rd Saturday of yellow-vest protests, as authorities banned marches around the fire-gutted Notre-Dame cathedral. The warning comes after weeks of relative calm, with the marches attracting declining numbers as yellow-vest protesters waited for President Emmanuel Macron’s expected response to their various demands which include lower taxes and more government services. Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, said domestic intelligence services had informed him of a potential return of rioters intent on wreaking havoc in Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier and Bordeaux, in a repeat of violent protests on March 16.



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U.S. seeks 'quagmire' with Iran in designating IRGC as terrorist group: Iran foreign minister

U.S. seeks 'quagmire' with Iran in designating IRGC as terrorist group: Iran foreign ministerIran’s foreign minister said on Sunday U.S. officials aiming to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist group want to “drag the U.S. into a quagmire” on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “#NetanyahuFirsters who have long agitated for FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organisaton) of the IRGC fully understand its consequences for US forces in the region.



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UPDATE 1-Saudi ban on Boeing MAX flights to continue for near future – minister

UPDATE 1-Saudi ban on Boeing MAX flights to continue for near future - ministerSaudi Arabia has no immediate plans to allow Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to operate in the kingdom, its transport minister said on Monday, as state airline flyadeal potentially reconsiders an order for the jets. Boeing’s top-selling MAX has been grounded globally since last month after two fatal crashes involving the same model in five months, the first in Indonesia in October and another on March 10 in Ethiopia. “There were no 737 MAX flying in the kingdom at the time and there aren’t plans for them to be back in the near future,” minister Nabeel al-Amudi told reporters at an aviation conference in Riyadh.



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UK PM May would have to look closely at customs union if parliament votes for it: minister

UK PM May would have to look closely at customs union if parliament votes for it: ministerBritish Prime Minister Theresa May would have to look closely at pursuing a customs union with the European Union if parliament votes for it, justice minister David Gauke said on Sunday. In a first round, the idea of seeking a customs union with the European Union was one of the most popular options, although it fell just short of a majority. Asked by BBC TV whether May would have to go back to the EU and negotiate for a customs union if parliament voted for it, Gauke said: “I think she would need to look very closely at that.” “If parliament is voting overwhelmingly against leaving the European Union without a deal but is voting in favor of a softer Brexit, then I don’t think it is sustainable to say we will ignore parliament’s position and leave without a deal.” Gauke also said May’s three-times defeated deal was not dead, and was still one of the options open to lawmakers.



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UK's May should quit as prime minister soon: Telegraph

UK's May should quit as prime minister soon: TelegraphBritish Prime Minister Theresa May should step down immediately after negotiating a temporary extension to Britain’s European Union membership, the Daily Telegraph newspaper said in its Saturday edition. Lawmakers rejected May’s Brexit plans for a third time on Friday, leaving Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in turmoil on the very day it had been supposed to quit the bloc. “She must now see – or must be told – that while she can meet with the EU to negotiate an extension for Brexit, that is the natural end of the road.



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