Iran says agreement with Saudi Arabia achieves common interests
Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Saturday restoring ties with Saudi Arabia, and said the move shows Tehran’s determination in protecting the interests of the Iranian nation, as well as friendly countries in the region.
This came a day after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced they would rebuild their diplomatic relations under a deal brokered by China, seven years after ties between the two nations were severed over the execution of a prominent cleric in the kingdom.
“With this move, the Iranian government showed that it is determined and has designed steps forward to protect the interests of the Iranian nation as well as Muslim, friendly, and neighboring countries and to use regional capacities to promote peace and inclusive stability, and to safeguard common interests of the regional governments and nations,” the statement read.
The statement also noted that the deal is indicative of the steps taken by the administration of President Ebrahim Raisi to pursue a balanced foreign policy doctrine, active diplomacy, and neighborly policies.
The agreement was signed in the Chinese capital Beijing on Friday, March 10, by Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani and his Saudi counterpart Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban.
The agreement will also see the reopening of embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation agreements signed more than 20 years ago.
IEA: Key Daesh members killed in Balkh
The General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) announced on Sunday that three “key members” of Daesh had been killed in an operation in Balkh province.
According to the department, Mawlavi Ziauddin, a senior leader; Abu Omar Afridi, a member of the Khorasan branch council; and Ustad Salman Tajikstani, one of the officials of Daesh military training unit, were killed.
According to the GDI, Ziauddin had been the “Governor of Daesh for Khorasan” and “in charge of administrative and judicial affairs” of Daesh before Shahab al-Mahajer.
The GDI said that Ustad Salman was a citizen of Tajikistan and a specialist in military training and making explosives.
This is the second operation by the IEA against Daesh in Balkh province in the past week.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, announced the attack on three Daesh hideouts in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif two weeks ago.
The Intelligence Service of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan also claimed on Sunday that they have arrested Daesh militants in Faryab province who were involved in the killing of Dawod Muzamal, the former governor of the Islamic Emirate in Balkh.
165 injured in magnitude-5.6 quake in NW Iran
The number of people injured in a magnitude-5.6 earthquake that jolted northwestern Iran on Friday morning rose to 165, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported.
The quake occurred near Khoy County in the province of West Azarbaijan at 6:46 a.m. local time (0316 GMT) at a depth of 8 kilometers, according to the Iranian Seismological Center.
Of the 165 injured, 139 were released from medical centers after receiving first aid, while the rest were being treated, IRNA quoted Provincial Governor of West Azarbaijan Mohammad-Sadeq Motamedian as saying.
Director General of West Azarbaijan’s Housing Foundation Jafar Barzegar told IRNA that 80 residential units in 10 villages in Salmas and Khoy counties were damaged in the quake.
In late January, a magnitude-5.9 earthquake jolted Khoy County, killing three people and injuring over 800 others.
Islamabad open to ‘non-transactional dialogue’ with Imran Khan’s party
Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Friday Islamabad was ready to hold comprehensive dialogue with former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party “for the sake of the country’s prosperity and national interest”.
Addressing a press conference, Asif said however that Pakistan’s government would not oblige by entering into any “transactional dialogue with the opposition”.
Asif said a lot has happened in the year since Imran Khan received a vote of no confidence. He also referred to the court saga in the past few weeks where Imran Khan has failed to appear before a judge on various charges relating to the sale of gifts to him during his tenure as prime minister.
Asif said: “Imran Khan refused to appear in the courts on different pretexts and security reasons or reasons of being victimized.
“And then his appearance is accepted in the court while he still sits in the car and he actually attacks the courts or the courts are mocked by his supporters,” he added.
Khawaja Asif said that when police went to Imran Khan’s house to arrest him, “the police were attacked as a result at least 70 to 80 police officers, including senior officers, were injured trying to arrest him. They pitched battle outside his (Imran Khan’s) house. This has never happened in Pakistan.”
According to Pakistan’s APP, during his (Imran Khan) regime, opposition workers and leaders were arrested. “They never contested their arrest physically, never abused and maligned the courts,” he said.
“During the last four years of his (Imran Khan) rule as Prime Minister, almost the whole of the top leadership of PML-N was arrested,” he added.
“Our leader Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif got arrested when he came back from the UK to surrender, his daughter, sons and nephews were arrested. But they never resisted their arrest.”
Asif stated that he was “picked up from Embassy Road and remained in jail for almost six months”.
He also noted that victimization of the opposition was unprecedented in Khan’s era.
Asif noted that the coalition government was governing the country under difficult circumstances – administratively and financially and politically.
“This is the backdrop in which we are at the moment governing the country and trying to give the best. We do realise that the political capital we had when we took over or when moved the vote of no confidence has depleted. We paid a cost for it,” he added.
He said the coalition government was trying to manage the crisis but that every day there was a crisis precipitated by Imran Khan, APP reported.
Meanwhile, Pakistan media reported Saturday that shipping containers have been placed at various locations in Lahore ahead of the PTI’s rally at the Minar-i-Pakistan on Saturday night, where party chairman Imran Khan intends to outline his “vision of Haqeeqi Azadi”.
Dawn news reported that containers were being placed at entry and exit routes around the city in what appeared to be an attempt to block routes leading to the PTI’s rally.
Earlier Saturday, Imran Khan called on his supporters to “assert their right as people of a free nation” by attending the rally.
He added that the PTI would be holding its sixth public gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan, which he felt would “break all records”.
“My heart tells me it will break all records. I am inviting everyone in Lahore to attend after Tarawih prayers. I will give my vision of Haqeeqi Azadi and how we will pull Pakistan out of the mess cabal of crooks have put our country in,” Imran said.
Dawn News reported that while expressing concerns that the government may erect obstacles to prevent party supporters from reaching the venue, Imran Khan asserted that it was the fundamental right of the people to participate in a political gathering.
“Everyone must assert their right as people of a free nation that won its independence and come to Minar-i-Pakistan,” he told his supporters.
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