Foreign Minister Salehi in Cairo

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Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Mehr News Agency reports. Details continue to be sparse other than Salehi went to Damascus to discuss the “special circumstances” of Syria.

This visit follows on the heels of Salehi’s visit to Cairo, for a meeting of the “contact group” on Syria, along with his Turkish and Egyptian counterparts. The Saudi Foreign Minister was not in attendance. Salehi’s recommendations included sending observers to Syria and that the contact group’s next meeting take place in Tehran, with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey.

Khabar Online, close to Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani reports Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s comments in his meeting with Foreign Minister Salehi that “no problem exists between Iran and Egypt”. During their meeting in Cairo Salehi expressed the “warm greetings” of President Ahmadienajd, and thanked Morsi for his attendance of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. Salehi also congratulated the president on the “victory of the revolution of the Egyptian people”. According to the report, Morsi reciprocated and asked the Iranian Foreign Minister to offer his “warm greetings” to the Supreme Leader and President Ahmadinejad.

Salehi also expressed Iran’s readiness for cooperation with the Egyptian government on the development of Egypt’s industrial infrastructure, adding that the two countries “complement one another”.

Baztab replies to criticism of its reportage of a story covered in the Western media, when a female member of the Israeli spy organization, Mossad, claimed that “even if we think that the way to advance the mission is to sleep with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, no one in the Mossad would allow us to do it. Women agents are not used for sexual purposes. We flirt, but the line is drawn at sex.” Critics of the story, particularly Baztab’s choice of title, “Female Mossad Spy: Mossad doesn’t give us permission to sleep with Mashaei”, called it “unethical” and a “distortion of the [original] text”. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei is President Ahmadinejad’s controversial chief of staff and a regular object of opprobrium in the hardline press.

Baztab claims Supreme National Security Chief, Saeed Jalili, was subject to “strange disrespect” by his Turkish hosts, at his scheduled meeting with Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Jalili was not greeted upon arrival by any Turkish delegation, and video has since been released which shows Iranian diplomats checking their watches, and surprised at the lack of any official welcome, which Baztab holds up as a breach of diplomatic protocol. While in Istanbul, Jalili had also met with EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton, to discuss the differences which continue to divide Iran and the P5+1 over the Islamic Republic’s contentious nuclear programme.

President Ahmadinejad has stated that he has plans to meet with “different American social groups” when he visits New York later this month for his final address of the UN General Assembly, reports Bashgah-e Khabarnegaran.

A Salafi cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Fouad Ashoush, has issued a fatwa calling for the execution of the makers, actors and distributors of the controversial film, “The Innocence of Muslims”, which has sparked outrage across the world, Fars News reports.

Domestic Affairs

The Chief of the Organization for Fiscal Affairs has stated that 60% of the country doesn’t pay taxes. Iran’s “hidden economy” accounts for 20% of this figure, and has been on the rise according to recent reports by the Central Bank of Iran.

President Ahmadinejad has responded to queries regarding his economic policy by former President Mohammad Khatami, reports Fars News. Khatami had questioned the feasibility of Ahmadinejad’s claim that he will create 2 million jobs, at the current economic growth rate. When asked for his response, Ahmadinejad stated, “in your view must I be answerable to any statement which occurs in this country?”

Mehdi Hashemi, the controversial son of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, will soon return to Iran, reports Mehr News Agency. Hashemi left Iran after the 2009 Presidential election, and has been accused in radical Conservative quarters of playing a crucial role in stoking the unrest which followed. He has been a favourite target of Iran’s neoconservative radicals around the president and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, and also currently has an open case at the Iranian judiciary. At his last press conference the spokesman of the Judiciary when asked about Mehdi Hashemi’s case, stated, “As we said before, if he comes we will certainly investigate his case”.

Abdolhossein Ruhol-Amini, the father of Mohsen Ruhol-Amini, one of the young men who died in the Kahrizak detention centre after the post-2009 election unrest, has expressed dismay at a letter circulating the Majles thanking the government for reinstating the controversial former Chief Prosecutor of Tehran, Saeed Mortazavi at the Social Security Organization. Ruhol-Amini is quoted as saying he hopes “this letter along with the signatories’ names are published to inform public opinion”, as they still haven’t been revealed publicly.

The Iranian Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, has said that “the Minister of the Economy must answer for the turbulence of the currency market”, reports Khabar Online.

Image source: Etemaad