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Third Parties Seeking to Spoil Iran-Pakistan Ties, Official Warns

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A top Iranian national security official called for closer interaction with Pakistan to foil attempts at harming the two neighbors’ security and friendship. “We should not allow third countries, which are totally against security and good neighborliness between Iran and Pakistan, to have negative impact on the friendly ties between the two countries”, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said in a meeting with Pakistan’s national security advisor, Naseer Khan Janjua. The two officials met in Moscow on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the 8th International Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues. Elsewhere in the meeting, Shamkhani deplored a terrorist attack on Iranian border guards at the common border with Pakistan that killed 10 troops in late April, describing efforts to control the joint borders and fighting against terrorist groups at the border areas as an absolute necessity. For his part, the Pakistani official expressed the hope that closer security cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad would stop a recurrence of the terrorist attack on Iranian guards. Khan Janjua also said that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent trip to Pakistan has had a remarkable effect on closer coordination between the two sides in the war on acts of violence along the borders. Heading a diplomatic and military delegation, Zarif visited Islamabad on May 3 to urge Pakistan to capture and bring to justice perpetrators of the April 26 terrorist attack that killed Iranian troops in Mirjaveh, in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan. Following the trip, Pakistan’s army undertook to bolster its control over the areas bordering Iran.

Iran's election campaign dominated by social media

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With the Iranian presidential election only days away, the campaigns of both Rouhani and hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, have launched a social media free-for-all unprecedented in Iranian political history. By far the most popular social media outlet is Telegram, a chat service that is a niche player in most Western countries but has some 20 million users in Iran, according to a report by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA). “Lack of trust in these organizations [state television] has led to a situation where the youth and the educated try to get news via social media such as Telegram, or Whatsapp and Viber or other available social media services”, Iranian Mostafa Koshki said. In Tehran, shopkeeper Mehdi Shahriyari said he believed that social media provided more accurate information than state television and that was why Iranians were turning to more modern forms of news collection. “In my opinion, social media provides us with more accurate and reliable information”, Shahriyari said. “The range of information available on social media is wider, therefore its better, and it does not support any special person [candidate]. Everyone is supporting their own candidate”. Telegram allows users to set up “channels” to broadcast pictures, videos and other messages to a wide following. For Iranian reformers in particular, that offers a way to get out messages that otherwise would be thwarted by censorship. Iran has a young, tech-savvy population: approximately 60 percent of the population of 80 million is under 30.

Iran Urges Removal of Trade Barriers with India

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for efforts to remove the obstacles to trade and banking ties with India. In a meeting with Foreign Secretary of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Tehran on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Zarif expressed the hope for closer relations between Iran and India in light of the history of their mutual cooperation and the issues of common interest. Zarif also stressed the need for the removal of obstacles to banking interaction between Tehran and New Delhi and for efforts to help and support the Iranian students in India. For his part, Jaishankar said he saw a positive prospect of relations with Iran, and hailed the results of his meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran, particularly with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. The two diplomats also discussed the ways to promote cooperation in the energy industry, transit industry, and completion of the North-South Corridor, an international transport route connecting Central Asia to the Persian Gulf. Iran and India, two major members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), have increased efforts in recent years to establish closer trade ties. India is one of the major customers of Iran’s crude oil. Last month, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan proposed the idea of cooperation with India “at a strategic level”, highlighting the far-reaching impacts of military and defense cooperation on regional security.



Iran starts construction of ion therapy center

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Iran began building its National Ion Therapy Center with Austrian help on Monday, in a €200 million project which follow the country’s landmark nuclear deal with six world powers in July 2015. Senior Iranian officials, including nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, appeared at the launching ceremony for the five-year project with a total treatment capacity of 1200 patents per annum in three irradiation rooms after completion. “We are very serious about this project because it has to do with the health of our people and the project is an indication that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran doesn’t only deal with nuclear power plants and enrichment”, Salehi told reporters. Also, officials from the leading Austrian MedAustron, the Austrian Ion Therapy and Research Centre, attended the groundbreaking event. “I’m so happy that in this very humanitarian project we came across a company in Austria, MedAustron, which is a leading company in this technology, to embark on this project in Iran”, Salehi said in response to a question by Austrian media on why Iran chose an Austrian partner. To be built in a gross area of 25,000m2, the project will use a synchrotron to accelerate protons and carbon ions to cure tough-to-treat diseases such as cancers, preventing an annual currency outflow of nearly €25 million. The Iran already uses other photon- and electron-based radiation therapy techniques and the project will be the country’s first endeavor to use particle therapy with protons and carbon ions for therapeutic purposes. The procedure, as compared to photon- and electron-based methods, will result in secondary cancers, fewer complications, and less damage to other organs.  The project has non-clinical uses such as experimental physics research. “We finish the construction of the center in three years and it will also take us two years to test installed technical infrastructure”, Salehi told reporters at the site. Technological localization, he insisted, is a key component of the cooperation and a “huge portion of the equipment, including power supply and magnets, will be manufactured inside Iran”. Once completed, the hospital can also admit patients from nearby countries. Only five such centers are operating in the world and Iran will be the sixth one to join the club. Iran has seen increasing international medical cooperation in nuclear-related areas after the 2015 international nuclear deal that removed sanctions against Tehran in return for it rolling back its nuclear program. The country uses its 40-megawatt, heavy-water Arak reactor to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments. It has already begun cooperation with Russian ROSATOM to build infrastructure for the manufacturing of stable isotopes at its Fordo facility.

Turkey prepares to build wall on Iranian border

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Ergün Turan, chairman of the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI), has said that preparations to build wall on Iranian border have been completed and Turkey is ready to start construction. Turkey’s TOKI housing agency plans to aid construction of the wall. An official with the Iranian Foreign Ministry told the Tehran Times on Tuesday that Turkey had “informally informed” Tehran of a plan to construct a wall along the border with Iran. Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported on Tuesday that Ankara is considering plans to build a wall along the Turkish-Iranian border as part of measures against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Reportedly, the wall will be constructed along 70-km of the border near Agra and [the eastern province of] Igdir, and the rest will be protected with watch towers and iron fences, the report further said. Iranian-Turkish border stretches from north to south for more than 300 miles. Turkey previously constructed a wall along the Syrian border to shield PKK and ISIS terrorists carrying out suicide attacks. Turkish officials claim some 800 to 1,000 PKK guerrillas are in camps inside Iran.

Envoy: Zimbabwe ready to assemble tractor

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Iran’s Ambassador to Harare Ahmad Erfanian in a meeting with First Vice-President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday expressed Iran’s readiness to launch production line to assemble tractors in that country. He pointed to signing several contracts to sell Iranian tractors to Zimbabwean sides, and said that Zimbabwe had already expressed readiness to commission assemble line of tractor in the country. The two sides also discussed expansion of bilateral ties in the fields of science, technology, education, mine and agriculture. Erfanian said considering special relations between the two countries, four Iranian presidents have visited Zimbabwe and also President Robert Mugabe has visited Iran four times in the past. He called Tehran and Harare as politico-economic partners of each other during imposed sanctions and called for the expansion of mutual cooperation in different fields. Erfanian said that although there were contracts worth $4.2 million to buy tobacco from Zimbabwe, recently another contract was signed to purchase more tobacco.


No force, terror outfit can hit Pak-Iran cordial ties: Iranian envoy

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In an interview with a leading Pakistani news channel the ambassador said, ‘There have been talks ongoing between Islamabad and Tehran on all issues; officials from both countries are in regular contacts and they can resolve all possible issues, if any, in their bilateral ties. He added that every single thing is being considered by both sides. ‘No individual or any terrorist group can affect the cordial ties between the two countries’. Regarding recent border attack which resulted in martyrdom of a number of the Iranian border guards in Mirjaveh, southeastern Iran, Honardoost said both countries are decisive to resolve these issues because they are dangerous for both. Earlier spokesperson of Pakistan army said that Iran and Pakistan enjoy strong brotherly and historical relations which will continue to grow in future. Major General Asif Ghafoor said that Iran and Pakistan have a border coordination mechanism which will improve in future. Meanwhile Pakistan’s Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also hoped that border management commission between Iran and Pakistan will meet within this month to make sure border incidents may not happen again. Last week Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Pakistan and met with Pakistani civil and military leadership to have better cooperation between the two countries on recent border incident. At least ten Iranian border guards were martyred by terrorists near Pakistan border in southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan on April 26, while patrolling at the zero border point. The terrorists fled to Pakistan’s territories after killing the Iranian border guards in an ambush.

Iran and Italy 50% growth in trade exchanges

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Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe-American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi in meeting with his Italian counterpart Vincenzo Amendola acknowledged 50 percent growth in trade exchanges between Tehran and Rome. Takht-e-Ravanchi said that Italy is one of important trade partners of Iran. According to the report of Foreign Ministry Media Department, Takht-e-Ravanchi reminded the existing crises in the Middle East region, and dismissed unilateral military action and expressed Iran’s readiness for cooperation and exchanging views with Italy to solve regional problems. He called Italy’s presence in Tehran International Book Fair as symbol of friendly ties between the two countries. Amendola also expressed his government’s interest to strengthen and deepen ties with Iran and talk about Italian companies’ desire for economic cooperation with Iranian firms. Italy supported nuclear deal between Iran and Group 5+1 and will do its utmost for full implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Vincenzo Amendola said. He said that regional crises has no military solution, adding that Italy as member of the UN Security Council and head of Group 7 is to use its capacity in line with achieving political solution for settling regional problems.

Cordial ties with Iran necessary for Pakistan.

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Few days after a high level visit by an Iranian delegation to Pakistan, the media in Pakistan have started applauding Iran’s decision to settle the recent border issue with Pakistan through diplomatic means. They have advised Islamabad government that maintaining cordial ties with Iran as a strong neighbor, is quite necessary for Pakistan. Leading Pakistani news papers ‘Dawn’ and ‘The Nation’ in their editorial comments said that although recent border attack was a bitter incident for Iran but the country wisely preferred the diplomatic path instead of deteriorating the situation. Therefore Tehran sent a very high level security delegation to Islamabad and got very strong assurances from top Pakistani military and political leaders regarding the border security. On April 26 nine Iranian border guards were martyred and two others injured by terrorists near Pakistani border in southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan, when they were patrolling at the zero border point. The terrorists after the killings and abducting one Iranian border guard fled to Pakistan’s territories.  After the border incident Pakistani media were expecting a strong reaction from Iran but they witnessed that Iran took no other path, but diplomacy, because Iran strongly believes in dialogue and diplomacy as the best way to solve different issues. This is not the first time that Pakistani media is admiring the diplomacy of the Iranian government. When Iran signed a nuclear deal with the six world powers two years back, Pakistani media also at that time applauded the diplomatic efforts of the Iranian government to reach a peaceful settlement with the West.


Middle East railways vision plan drawn up at RAME summit.

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A vision plan for the current and future perspective of Middle East railways has been drawn up based on the activities of the Regional Assembly Middle East (RAME), CEO of the Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran said Tuesday. “Vision plan for the ‘current status of Middle East railways, moving in the right direction’ has been drawn up with collective efforts from the RAME member states which introduces the current status of railways in RAME states as well as various railway projects currently under construction”, Abbas Nazari, CEO of the Railways of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said at the 19th RAME summit held in Tehran. Iranian as well as foreign companies from Russia, Germany, China, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, the Czech Republic, India and Slovenia are expected to participate in the exhibition that will put on display the latest technological achievements in rail and transportation industries, wagon construction and transportation services. RAME members are the railway administrations of Turkey (TCDD), Islamic Republic of Iran (RAI), Syria (CFS), Saudi Arabia (SRO), Jordan Aqaba Railways (ARQ), Iraq (IRR), Hejaz in Syria (CFH), NIROO RAIL Transport Co. and METRA Consulting Engineers Co. from Iran, and HIZTAZ Co. from Turkey. The RAME Chairmanship is performed by Turkey Railway (TCDD) and its vice-chairmanship is carried out by the railways of I.R. Iran (RAI) and Syria (CFS).


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