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Iran’s Kurdish opposition call for boycott of May elections

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Iran’s exiled Kurdish opposition groups have jointly called on Kurdish voters to boycott upcoming general elections in the country describing the May elections as “a masquerade” staged by “a regime that has deprived the human and just rights” of the people in Iran’s Kurdistan. The six leading opposition groups based in Kurdistan Region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (HDK), the Kurdistan Communist Party (Komele), the Kurdistan Communist Party-Iran (Shorishger), the Kurdistan Struggle Orgniztaion (Xebat), the Kurdistan Democratic PartyIran (HDKA) and the Iranian Kurdistan Communist Organisation said in a joint statement that the boycott of elections “is a way to prevent further oppression and crackdown through elections”. Election campaigns for the post of the country’s presidency and city councils kicked off last week with the incumbent President Hasan Rouhani leading the so-called moderate camp against the conservative hardliners including Ebrahim Raisi, a potential successor to Iran’s supreme leader and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Kurdish voters overwhelmingly voted for Rouhani in the 2013 elections whose campaign promises included recognition of broader Kurdish cultural and educational rights. But critics have slammed Rouhani’s administration over the past years for what they have described as a continuation of state-sponsored discrimination against Kurdish population in the country. “We think that the boycott will eventually impact the elections given the fact that almost all opposition parties in Iran have also called on their supporters for a boycott”, said Ibrahim Alizade, Secretary General of the Komele after reading the statement at a joint press conference in Sulaimani.

Iranian, Russian and Syrian defense ministers meet in Moscow

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Second rounds of trilateral meetings between Iranian, Russian and Syrian defense ministers was held in Moscow on the sidelines of the 6th Conference on International Security. During the meeting, Hossein Dehqan, Sergey Shoygu and Fahd Jassem al-Freij underlined convergence among Tehran, Moscow and Damascus against terrorism. They discussed latest field developments in Syria and explored avenues for fighting against terrorism. The three defense minister also underlined continuation of joint full-scale action to eliminate roots of insecurity and violence in the region. They condemned recent US attack against an airfield in Syria, noting that such treachery attacks in support of terrorists should be halted. They stressed joint decisive action against terrorists to prevent terrorist’s reinforcement and to help establishment of peace in the war-torn region. The first round of the trilateral talks was held in Tehran in 2016.

Iran urges Pakistan’s hunt for border guards attackers

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani strongly decried the recurrence of terrorist attacks against Iran launched from inside Pakistan, calling on the eastern neighbor to prosecute and bring to justice perpetrators of a Wednesday attack that killed 10 Iranian troops at the common border. In a letter to Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif on Thursday, President Rouhani blamed Islamabad’s “inaction” and “lack of necessary measures” for the occasional damages to Iran and for deaths of Iranian border guards or civilians. It came after members of the so-called Jaish al-Adl Takfiri terrorist group on Wednesday launched an attack from Pakistan against an Iranian border post at the southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan, killing 9 soldiers. Iran’s Police said the martyrs were killed by long-range weapons fired from Pakistani soil. Elsewhere in his letter, the Iranian president said the Islamabad government is expected to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the fatal attack in order to “maintain and boost good and brotherly relations” with Iran.

President Hails Islamic Democracy in Iran

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Addressing a gathering of the Iranian people, government officials, and ambassadors from Islamic countries, held in Tehran on Tuesday, President Rouhani pointed to the 12th presidential election and the 5th City and Village Councils elections slated for next month and said the country’s “great nation” is resolved to create “a new epic” in the polls. He made the remarks in a meeting attended by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on the occasion of Eid al-Mab’ath, the anniversary of the day Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was chosen as God’s messenger. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is proud that all high-ranking officials have reached their legitimate power directly or indirectly by the people’s votes”, the president said. He further described “Islamic democracy” as one of the holy gifts given to Muslims on the day of Mab’ath. The presidential vote and the City and Village Councils elections are slated to be held in Iran on May 19. President Rouhani is running for a second term in office. The Interior Ministry released his name on the final list of candidates, who were approved by the Guardian Council (GC) to run in the presidential election.

Rouhani opens 5th WAIC summit in Qazvin

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The 5th World Assembly of Islamic Cities (WAIC) summit has convened Sunday in the Iranian city of Qazvin with President Hassan Rouhani in attendance. In addition to representatives from the United Nations, ambassadors, governors and a number of urban and religious science scholars from Iraq, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Palestine, Indonesia, China, Morocco, Pakistan and Afghanistan are also in attendance. Over 800 Iranian and international guests are taking part in the 5th summit of the World Assembly of Islamic Cities currently underway at Imam Khomeini International University in Qazvin. The World Assembly of Islamic Cities (WAIC) is an international non-governmental and not-for-profit organization which promotes sustainable urban development according to the ideals of Islam. WAIC seeks to provide a forum for exchange of approaches to sustainable Islamic Cities from technological, scientific, managerial, cultural and spiritual perspectives.

Rouhani: Iran’s railways can connect Georgia to Persian Gulf.

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President Rouhani made the remarks in meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, and said that Iran immediately recognized Georgian independence from the beginning. Rouhani said that the two countries have wide economic, scientific and cultural capacities and capabilities, which are not used well, adding that this visit may prepare grounds for development of ties. Ran may be connection route for Georgia and regional countries to the Persian Gulf, Oman Sea and Indian Ocean and Georgia may facilitate access road to the Black Sea. He said that today transit in the region has special importance and considering connection of Iran’s railways to Astara and Azerbaijan Republic, development of Tehran-Tbilisi cooperation in this field may create developments in the region. President Rouhani said that investors, especially in private sector should be persuaded for reciprocal cooperation and supported. Rouhani pointed to the old ties between the two nations and existing plenty of tourist attractions in the two countries, and called expansion of tourist relations important for both states while underlining the necessity to respect and observe Islamic–Iranian codes with Iranian tourists in Georgia. Concerning regional problems, Rouhani said that today this region is facing a big problem called ‘Terrorism’ so the two countries should increase their cooperation within the framework of confronting and uprooting this problem. Giorgi Kvirikashvili pointed to several years of historical background of relations between  the two countries, and said that political, economic and trade ties are developing between the two states. He reiterated that the existing capacities and capabilities should be used to expand all-out ties.The Georgian prime minister said that the Georgian government and nation have a great deal of respect for Iranian and Muslim believes and culture and never insulted their guests, so it is due that special regulations will be fulfilled in the border area. Kvirikashvili called cooperation in the field of transiting goods important, and underlined Tbilisi’s intention to connect the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea through Iran’s railways and roads. He also called quadrilateral agreement among Iran, Russia, Armenia and Georgia to develop cooperation in the field of electricity “important’ and called for its development


Iran: Final list of presidential candidates released

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Iran’s Guardian Council approved six candidates to run for the May 19 presidential election. According to Iran’s Interior Ministry’s press release, Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim, Es’haq Jahangiri, Hassan Rouhani, Ebrahim Raeisi, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, and Mostafa Hashemi-Taba are the 6 candidates who have been approved to run for the upcoming election. The qualified candidates can start their election campaign from now until May 18. The Guardian Council started the process of screening 1,636 hopefuls registered for the May 19 presidential election on Sunday.

President Rouhani registers for presidential election

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President Hassan Rouhani signed up for the upcoming presidential race on Friday to seek reelection for the second term in office. He won the past presidential elections in 2013 with the motto of ‘Moderation and Détente’ with a total of 18,651,668 votes. Rouhani has on several occasions called for massive turnout in the elections slated for May 19. The registration for presidential elections officially started on April 11 and will end on April 15. Guardian Council will start vetting the candidates as of April 16. According to the Interior Ministry’s latest statistics, some 863 hopefuls have so far signed up for presidential election. The final list of the candidates eligible to run for Iran’s 12th round of presidential election is expected to be announced by the Interior Ministry on April 26–27. Electoral campaigns will officially begin on April 28 and will continue until May 17.

The press conference in Tehran, President Rouhani: Some reforms necessary in Syria

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The press conference is underway in Tehran with over 200 local and international press covering the event. The press conference comes ahead of the presidential elections, scheduled to be held on May 19th. Rouhani is the incumbent candidate. The President commenced the press conference by hailing his administration’s various achievments including higher payments, better conditions for farmers, increase of trade balance from – 8.1 at the start of his government to – 2.6 this year, increase of agriculture products and foodstuff from 97 million tons in 2013 to in 95 118,000m tons in 2016, better healthcare and environmental conditions, and more progress in technology, especially in the field of nuclear technology after the implementation of the JCPOA. To The Wall Street Journal’s question on Iran’s next move after the US missile attack in Syria, and what measures Iran and Russia have agreed upon in regard to the Syrian conflict following the US attack, President Rouhani stressed that Iran still believes the only viable solution to end the crisis in Syria is a political approach and the progress of peace talks. He expressed regret that the US attack had hurt the process of Syrian peace talks and aided terrorists into thinking they had now an upper hand during the negotiations. President Rouhani noted that Iran-Russia-Turkey cooperation is focused on the success of Astana peace talks, while Iran-Russia-Syria cooperation is concerned with fighting terrorism on the ground; “During my recent visit to Moscow as well the telephone conversation with President Putin, we agreed on more coordination about the operations in Syria”, he added.

U.S. withdraws from anti-Iran sanction bill over ‘concerns’ about Iran election

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Corker, who is currently the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said on Tuesday that the bill will not move forward for now. The bill was introduced by a group of Democratic and Republican senators in March seeking to slap tighter sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its ballistic missiles. This is while Iran repeatedly says that none of its missiles have been designed to carry nuclear warheads because nuclear weapons have basically no place in the Islamic Republic’s defense doctrine. “We’ve got a Iran sanctions bill that has a number of co-sponsors that wasn’t able to markup at present because of concerns about how the European Union might react and (Iranian) elections that are coming up”, Corker said. Iran will hold its next presidential election in May 2017, when principlists hope to defeat moderate President Hassan Rouhani. In 2013 presidential election, Rouhani promised to develop better relations with countries across the world, and partly succeeded to deliver what he had promised after the nuclear agreement went into effect, which led to expansion of ties with mostly Western countries. New sanctions, however, could seriously hurt Rouhani’s chance of victory.

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