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Monday, June 17, 2013

Moderate Hassan Rouhani Elected President of Iran

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani used his first news conference to thank Iranians voters for “choosing moderation” and electing a candidate that sought “constructive interaction with the world”. On Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, Rouhani said it was “completely transparent” and that his government would be “ready to show greater transparency and make clear for the whole world that the steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran are completely within international frameworks”. He added that the sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN in an attempt to make the country cease its uranium enrichment work were “unfair, the Iranian people are suffering and our activities are legal. These sanctions are illegal and only benefit Israel”. Reacting to his election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the international community should not “delude” itself. “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program”, he told his cabinet.

Turkey and Russia Demand Explanations on British G20 Spying

Turkey and Russia have demanded explanations from the British government after the Guardian published documents showing that British agencies had spied on politicians and senior officials during the G20 summit in London in 2009. The Turkish government summoned the British ambassador in Ankara to explain why the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), an UK intelligence agency, had intercepted the phonecalls and monitored the computer of Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşe and his delegation, adding that spying on another NATO ally was “scandalous”. Meanwhile, Russian officials said that the spying on top secret communications of then president Dmitry Medvedev by the revelations that both the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the GCHQ at the same summit would harm Russian relations with the West. “This isn’t just an act of inhospitality, but a fact that can seriously complicate international relations”, said Russian senator Igor Morozov. Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, declined to comment on the revelations.

Unions Join Turkish Protests, Government Threatens to Send In Army

Two major Turkish trade unions, the Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions (KESK) and Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), urged members to go on strike on Monday in response to the police crackdown on the protesters fighting against the redevelopment of Gezi Park in Istanbul. Interior Minister Muammer Güler had called on the “public workers and labourers to not participate in unlawful demonstrations, otherwise they will bear the legal consequences”, warning that “our police will be on duty as usual”. The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arınç, went further, saying that the army could be called in if the protesters did not heed the calls for calm. “Our police, our security forces are doing their jobs. If it’s not enough then the gendarmes will do their jobs. If that’s not enough, we could even use elements of the Turkish Armed Forces”, he said during an interview on television.

UK and Ecuador Agree to Talks on Assange Status

The UK and Ecuador have failed to agree on a solution to the diplomatic impasse over the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange nearly a year after he sought refuge and asked for asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, and Ricardo Patiño, his Ecuadorean counterpart, agree to establish a working group to try to solve the standoff. Ecuador has granted the Wikileaks founder asylum, but the UK refuses to grant him a safe passage to an exit point, such as an airport, therefore impeding travel to the South American nation. The meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes, according to a statement released by the Foreign Office. After the meeting, Patiño told reporters that “the Ecuadorean government maintains that the reasons for which Ecuador granted asylum are still relevant and therefore there is going to be no change in his circumstances”. Assange sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on allegations of assault and rape, which he strenuously denies.

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