special to the sunday tribune
UN adopts resolution to destroy Syria’s chemical arms
Pak industry eager to tap Indian market
Jolt to Sharif as Pak Taliban refuse to lay down arms
Ashish K Sen in Washington dc
US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the phone on Friday in the first talks between the leaders of the two nations since 1979.
The phone call capped a week of breakthroughs in Washington’s estranged relationship with Tehran.
Hours after he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Oval Office, Obama announced that he had spoken with Rouhani.
The 15-minute phone call was dominated by discussions on efforts to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Obama said he believed both sides can reach a “comprehensive solution” and both leaders instructed their top diplomats to continue pursuing efforts to resolve the nuclear impasse.
The meeting of the so-called P5-plus-1, denoting the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the US, Britain, France, China and Russia -- and Germany with Iran on October 15 in Geneva will be the next milestone in a multilateral effort to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.
On Thursday, in another first in the US-Iran relationship, Secretary of State John F Kerry met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.
The two diplomats participated in the P5-plus-one talks and held a brief bilateral meeting.
Obama called Rouhani as the Iranian leader was driving to the airport at the end of his visit to New York.
Rouhani wrote on Twitter that he and Obama had expressed their mutual political will to rapidly resolve the nuclear issue. The Iranian President wants to reach an agreement between three and six months.
Noting that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons and Rouhani has said Iran would never develop nuclear weapons, Obama said he had made clear that “we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations.
“So the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place,” he added.
Obama said he believed that “there is a basis for a resolution.” He said he had also conveyed to Rouhani his deep respect for the Iranian people.
Rouhani said Ayatollah Khamenei supports his efforts to negotiate. “Whatever result we achieve through negotiations, my government will have the full backing of all the main branches of power in Iran as well as the support of the people of Iran,” he told a press conference on Friday.
In sharp contrast to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who referred to the US as the Great Satan, Rouhani described the US as a great nation.
Tweets posted on Rouhani’s official Twitter account suggested the tone of the conversation with Obama was friendly. “I wish you a safe and pleasant journey and apologise if you're experiencing the (horrendous) traffic in NYC,” Obama was quoted as saying in one tweet.
Obama was widely expected to shake hands with Rouhani at the UN earlier this week, but that meeting didn’t materialise as it was too “complicated” for the Iranians, according to a senior US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
On Friday, the Iranians reached out to the White House to say Rouhani would like to speak with Obama on the phone before his departure from New York.
The phone call materialised after the Obama-Singh meeting during which the Iran was one of the many topics discussed. “As a general matter, India has been a partner in our sanctions effort. We realise that that has been a difficult step for the Indian Government to take, given their energy relationship with Iran,” the senior US official said. “And that has involved a lot of work by both us and India.”
“India has been supportive of resolving these types of issues diplomatically, so certainly, I think it's a type of issue on which we can have continued contact and constructive discussions with India,” the official added.
In his first inaugural address in January 2009, Obama said in remarks directed at Iran: “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
The senior US official said: “What we’ve seen is an unclenching, hopefully, of that fist and an opportunity to pursue diplomacy.”
Obama and Rouhani spoke through an interpreter on Friday.
At the end of the call, Rouhani wished Obama a nice day and the US President reciprocated in Farsi with ‘Khuda hafiz’.
Shoe thrown at Rouhani
Tehran: A shoe was thrown towards Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's car on Saturday as he arrived home to a mixed reception for his historic call with Barack Obama. Some 60 hardline Islamists chanted “Death to America” and "Death to Israel" as Rouhani's motorcade drew out of Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. But they were outnumbered by 200 to 300 supporters of the President who shouted: "Thank you, Rouhani." —
Tehran: A shoe was thrown towards Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's car on Saturday as he arrived home to a mixed reception for his historic call with Barack Obama. Some 60 hardline Islamists chanted “Death to America” and "Death to Israel" as Rouhani's motorcade drew out of Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. But they were outnumbered by 200 to 300 supporters of the President who shouted: "Thank you, Rouhani." — AFP
United Nations, September 28
Ending a dramatic month of diplomacy, the 15-nation UNSC voted unanimously on the resolution which was based on a deal struck between Russia and the US following a chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds on August 21.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the passing of the resolution the “first hopeful news” on Syria in a long time and said he hoped to convene a peace conference in mid-November to end the ongoing civil war there.
In the wake of the August chemical attack in Syria which was confirmed by a UN investigation team later, the UNSC called for the elimination of the country's chemical weapons, while endorsing a plan for Syrian-led negotiations toward peace. — PTI
Pak industry eager to tap Indian market
Karachi, September 28
Given the large population and size of the market in India, the industry and business community of Pakistan is keen that trade opens up faster so that they can export products in which they have traditional strengths like textiles, among others. The industry is also upset withnegative incidents that mar peace between the countries and also derail trade.
Indo-Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry president SM Muneer said more open trade between the two countries would give Pakistan’s industry access to India’s large market with a population of 120 crore.
The overwhelming view in the industry of Pakistan is that trade should move faster between the two countries as it will be beneficial for the local populace. Muneer said there was a section of the local industry opposing the MFN status to India, but those concerns could be addressed.
Shahbaz Ali Malik, managing director, Popular Group which has interests in textiles, sugar, food processing, said India could be a huge market for textiles from Pakistan. Malik said if regional trade could be developed properly, it could save on dollars and local currency could be promoted.
The Shan Group which is known for spices is also considering setting up manufacturing operations in India. Faisal Mubin Ganatra, chief operating officer, Shan Foods, said the company that had distribution network in India was evaluating the feasibility of setting up manufacturing units in India.
Ganatra said he had held discussions with Future group and General Mills to set up manufacturing units.
Indian entertainment is another area where cinema chains of Pakistan are showing interest. Cinepax, Pakistan’s first cinema and family entertainment company, has evinced interest in sourcing content from Bollywood.
Hashim Raza, chief operating officer, Cinepax, said 34 Indian movies had been released in 2013 and Pakistan had been rapidly becoming a market for legitimate movie content.
Islamabad, September 28
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said Sharif has no authority to hold talks and reiterated its demand for the army to pull out from Pakistan's tribal areas, release of its prisoners, and an end to US drone strikes.
"We have already expressed our reservations. The government does not have the authority to hold dialogue. The authority lies with the army or with the US," TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in an interview to Newsweek.
If the government can somehow take steps to prove that it has the authority to hold talks, then the group will consider initiating a dialogue, he said.
"Nawaz Sharif has proven he has no authority. When he was in Pakistan, he was saying one thing, now when he has gone to America, he is talking about preconditions for talks," Shahid said. — PTI
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