US hegemony no longer credible, Iranian leader tells UN

Untold India September 22, 2021

TEHRAN, Iran: Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, in a pre-recorded speech to the 76th UN General Assembly on Tuesday, said the US “hegemonic approach” is no longer credible, calling on the Biden administration to lift its sanctions on Tehran. In a scathing speech hitting out at both US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, the newly elected conservative leader said the world “doesn’t care about America First or America is Back,” asserting that the “perseverance of nations is stronger than the power of superpowers.” Referring to two incidents that shook the world this year – the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol in January and young Afghans falling to their deaths from a US plane departing the Afghan capital Kabul on Aug. 16 – Raisi called these the result of the US “seeking global hegemony.” He said the US has been making the mistake of modifying its “way of war” with the world instead of changing its “way of life,” calling it a “mistaken path.” Throwing the ball in the US court, he said Iran is willing to negotiate with world powers to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the Biden administration must “lift sanctions at once” imposed on Iran under the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iran’s president called US sanctions on Iran, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a “crime against humanity,” accusing Washington of using sanctions as a “new way of waging war,” echoing the words of his reformist predecessor who often accused the US of “economic terrorism.” He said the US sanctions had “hampered Iran’s efforts” to import COVID-19 vaccines, adding that Iran was keen from the outset to purchase and import vaccines from “reliable international sources.” COVID, Afghanistan, nuclear deal He called the coronavirus pandemic a “wake-up call” for the world, a reminder that “the safety of all human beings is interdependent.” On recent events in Afghanistan, Raisi said in fact US forces “did not withdraw” from the region this summer but were “expelled,” adding that the US presence in countries like Iraq and Syria only “impedes democracy.” Earlier in the day, Iran’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a series of meetings with his counterparts from India, Luxembourg, Vietnam, and Finland, later calling the bilateral talks “productive.” On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he is expected to hold talks with his counterparts from Russia, China, France, Germany, and the UK as well as the EU foreign policy chief, with the revival of Vienna talks on reviving the nuclear deal topping the agenda. Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh shot down speculation that there would be a meeting in New York between the foreign ministers of Iran and the P4+1 countries (Russia, China, Britain, France, plus Germany). He also said the Vienna talks will resume in the “next few weeks” while stressing that Iran’s foreign policy team has not yet reached a final conclusion on the roadmap for the next round of talks to revive the nuclear deal. Importantly, Amir-Abdollahian is the first Iranian foreign minister to be allowed to visit New York since 2019, when his predecessor Javad Zarif was sanctioned and barred from entering

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WHO chief meets Taliban leaders to assess humanitarian needs in Afghanistan

Untold India September 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Head of the World Health Organization Tuesday met with the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan to explore ways and means to support the country grappling with frozen funds and mounting humanitarian needs. After landing in Kabul a day earlier, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus Tuesday met with the Taliban’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqi to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country. “Delays in humanitarian aid and the creation of ‘similar barriers’ undermine the status and reputation of the international community,” the acting foreign minister told the WHO chief, according to the group’s spokesman Ahmadullah Mutaqi. “Sanctions and pressures show that international humanitarian aid is in the hands of the ‘powerful few’,” the acting minister added. Tedros also met with the Taliban’s head of cabinet ministers, Mohammad Hassan Akhund, and his deputies Monday to get an overview of the situation in the country. According to the state-run Bakhtar news agency, Tedros said the World Health Organization was working to increase its assistance to Afghanistan to prevent a humanitarian “catastrophe”. “The previous administration was corrupt, but the international community was helping it extensively. Now that the Islamic Emirate system is in place and free from corruption, the international community needs to provide more assistance,” Akhund told the WHO chief, according to Bakhtar. The Taliban leaders have promised to remove “impediments” to aid, to protect humanitarian workers, and to safeguard aid offices, according to a 15-point proposal addressed to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and signed by the Taliban’s acting minister of foreign affairs. The Sept. 10 statement, which has circulated among aid groups this week, also echoed previous pledges to commit to “all rights of women … in the light of religion and culture”. A humanitarian catastrophe looms in Afghanistan amid a freeze on aid and funds, said several aid agencies earlier this month. As per the OCHA estimates, the country has the second-highest number of people facing emergency levels of hunger in the world, with an estimated 5.5 million children projected to face crisis levels of hunger in the second half of this year.-AA

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