Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekly Iranian Foreign Policy News Digest

  • Iran-P5+1 nuclear talk held; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Iranian and the P5+1 nuclear negotiators rapped up their latest round of talks on Feb 27, 2013 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In an official communique, Iranian  negotiating officials expressed cautiously optimistic sentiments toward the latest round of nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Iran, characterizing the new Western approach to Iran’s nuclear issue as relatively more realistic and closer to Iran’s core negotiating positions. Iranian negotiating officials, however, acknowledged that there is still a wide gap to be bridged between the positions of the two sides. Western officials sounded less upbeat about the results of the Almaty talks.  The two sides, however, have agreed to resume their talks at the level of chief nuclear negotiators next April in Almaty while their technical experts are scheduled to meet earlier on March 18 in Istanbul to prepare the grounds for their upcoming talks.
  • Food stamps back in Iran; Tehran;  The Iranian parliament approved a bill on Tuesday, Feb 26, requiring the government to supply essential commodities and food products, including rice, cooking oil and meat, to low-income Iranian families on a quarterly basis. This measure, which is reminiscent of more statist economic policies prevalent in Iran during the 1980s is meant to ensure food security for vulnerable segments of the Iranian society in the face of rising inflation.
  • Larijani visits India; New Delhi; Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, paid a five-day visit to India, (spanning Feb 25-March1) at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Meira Kumar, seeking the expansion of economic and political ties between Iran and India on both bilateral and multilateral issues. During his five-day visit, Larijani was accompanied by Iranian economic officials including the head of Iran’s chamber of commerce. Prior to his arrival at the Indian capital New Delhi, Larijani held meetings with Indian investors and commercial officials in Mumbai.
  • Pakistani president visits Tehran; Tehran; Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari paid a two-day visit to Tehran holding meetings with his Iranian counterpart Mahmood Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. High Iranian and Pakistani officials reportedly discussed the expansion of their mutual political and economic ties, including the implementation of the so-called Peace Pipeline Project exporting Iranian natural gas to Pakistan. While discussing other issues of mutual interests between Iran and Pakistan at his meeting with Zardari, the Iranian supreme leader also expressed concern at the escalating sectarian violence in Pakistan.
  • Syrian foreign minister visits Tehran; Tehran; Syrian foreign minister Walid Al Muallem visited Tehran on March 1, following his trip to Moscow. The Syrian foreign minister held separate meetings with his Iranian counterpart Akbar Salehi, secretary of Iran’s National Security Council Saeed Jalili and Iranian President Ahamadinejad. While expressing support for the Syrian government in its fight against internal armed rebellion and emphasizing the need to address the legitimate rights and freedoms of the Syrian people, Iranian officials calledfor the cessation of violence and a genuine dialogue between the conflicting parties aimed at settling the protracted civil conflict in Syria. During his visit to Tehran, the Syrian foreign minister called for Iran’s pressures on Turkey and Qatar to end their logistical and financial support for what he termed ‘the al-Qaeda-linked terrorists” operating in Syria. Tehran and Moscow have both lent their diplomatic weights to finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis by playing mediating roles between the Syrian opposition forces and the Syrian government.   


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