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Published on September 20th, 2013 | by Guest

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This Week in Iran News — September 13-20

by Shawn Amoei

Foreign Affairs

  • Rouhani spoke of repairing relations with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, saying, “This issue has been emphasized in the Saudi king’s congratulatory letter to me and in my thank-you letter to him. We are both eager to resolve the minor tensions between us in pursuit of our mutual interests and the interests of the Islamic world.”
  • Rouhani met with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek. Putin accepted an invitation to meet with Rouhani in Tehran.

Nuclear Program

  • At a gathering of SCO member states, Rouhani expressed optimism that his administration can “guarantee” the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program through “political will and mutual respect.” He added, “With mutual confidence building, a guarantee can be reached within a short period of time.”
  • The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said in a IAEA conference on Monday, “I have come to Vienna to close Iran’s nuclear file.”

Military

  • Speaking at an annual gathering of IRGC officials, Rouhani referenced Ayatollah Khomeini’s insistence that armed forces stay out of “political games,” telling the IRGC to operate “above political currents.”
  • A delegation of senior Omani military officials led by the country’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran Tuesday to discuss and sign defense cooperation agreements between the two countries.
  • In his address at the annual gathering of IRGC officials, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei affirmed statements made by Rouhani a day earlier on the need for political non-interference, “There is no need for the IRGC to be active in the political arena.

Human Rights

  • Eleven political prisoners were freed Wednesday, including prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
  • Freed political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh wrote an open letter to Rouhani calling on the president to safeguard the rights of religious minorities, particularly followers of the Baha’i faith, in light of the recent murder of a Baha’i man in Hormozgan Province.

Economic Issues

  • The Tehran Stock Exchange saw a growth of 1.19% following positive political news and a drop in value of the US dollar.

At Home

  • Mahmoud Vaezi, newly appointed head of Iran’s Ministry of Communication, said during a press conference, “On the basis of our 100-day plan, our goal is to make Internet speed twice as fast.”
  • President Rouhani appointed Hesamedin Ashena as his advisor for cultural affairs. Ashena was one of Rouhani’s campaign managers and introduced the famous ‘key’ that came to symbolize Rouhani’s campaign.
  • Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed recent presidential candidate and former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to the Expediency Council.

— Shawn Amoei is a London-based foreign affairs analyst, specializing in US foreign policy and the Middle East. He writes for Iranwire and the Huffington Post, and can be reached by email.

– Photo: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets Omani Defense Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi in Tehran on 17 Sept. 2013. Photo Credit: ISNA/Hamid Forootan

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