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June 99, Week 3
|Iran Rejects Deal Over Arrested Jews||June 19|
|Iran Reclaims Sovereignty Over Disputed Islands||June 18|
|Lawmakers Urge Clinton to Speed Iran Grain Sales||June 18|
|Iranian Speaker Underlines WOMEN'S Role||June 17|
|Jackson to Meet Iranians in NY on Jewish Prisoners||June 17|
|President Says He Is Responsible for Religious Minorities' Welfare||June 16|
Iran Rejects Deal Over Arrested Jews
TEHRAN - XINHUA - A senior Iranian official said here Friday
that Iran will not make any deals with any country over the 13 Iranian
Jews arrested on espionage charges.
"Those who think that it is possible to strike a deal on the fate of the spies are definitely mistaken," Secretary of the Constitutional Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahi Jannati said to the Friday prayer congregation on the campus of Tehran University.
The files of those arrested are under close investigations by the court and "the punishment for espionage is death," he was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.
Jannati said that the investigation is being conducted regardless of religious beliefs of the betrayers, be they Muslims or otherwise.
"Some of the relatives of the arrested Iranian Jews charged with spying are living in the occupied Palestinian territory (Israel), these traitors were engaged in surreptitious operation of transmitting information to Israel through Turkey," he said.
He blasted Israel, the U.S. and Britain for their criticism that the rights of the religious minorities in Iran are being trampled upon.
It should be noted that those facing spying charges in Iran will be given a fair trial and served proper punishment like many other traitors in the nation, the Iranian official said.
Israel and some western countries have expressed concern over human rights violation in Iran after Tehran confirmed the arrest of 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel and the U.S.
Both Israel and the U.S. denied that the Iranian Jews had worked for their intelligence services and urged Iranian authorities to release them.
Iran Reclaims Sovereignty Over Disputed Islands
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Iran on Wednesday reaffirmed its
sovereignty over the three islands in the Persian Gulf in a response to
the call of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a peaceful solution to
their dispute over the islands.
"The legal status of the three Iranian islands, Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs are clearly transparent and there exist no legal ambiguity in this regard," Iranian Majlis (parliament) Vice Speaker Hassan Rowhani said.
Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), he said the islands have belonged to Iran throughout the history and for sometime the Britons occupied these Iranian islands and then they returned them to Iran.
Iran took over the three islands at the mouth of the strategic Hormoz Strait in 1971 soon after the British colonist forces withdrew from the region.
However, both Tehran and Abu Dhabi claimed sovereignty over the islands and relations between the two countries have been sour in recent years over the issue.
At the founding conference of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which opened here on Tuesday, IRNA said, the UAE representative called on Iranian officials to solve the issue "through cordial negotiation or through international legal bodies."
Rowhani, also secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, said the history shows that the UAE has nothing to do with the islands.
Asked about the seriousness of the UAE threat to quit the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Rowhani said that "this does not show the UAE bounds and that the bounds of maneuverability is too limited in nature."
Some reports said that the UAE has warned to withdraw from the GCC in a protest to the recent warm-up of relations between Iran and other GCC members without safeguarding the UAE's interests.
Iran and its Gulf neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, entered a new era of their relations after Iran's moderate President Mohammad Khatami initiated a detente policy with the rest of the world in 1997.
Lawmakers Urge Clinton to Speed Iran Grain Sales
WASHINGTON,(Reuters) - A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Friday urged the
Clinton administration to agree quickly on rules that would allow the sale of food and
medicine to Iran and other countries facing economic sanctions.
In a letter to President Bill Clinton, the group of 11 Senators and 16 House members also urged that the regulations not be so cumbersome they prevent sales of grain and other goods from actually being made.
"It is our understanding that draft regulations have been prepared by the (Treasury Department's) Office of Foreign Asset Control and are currently under review by several departments and agencies within the administration," the lawmakers said.
"We call upon you to expedite the review process and to have the regulations issued as soon as possible," they said.
On April 28, the administration announced it would allow sales of food and medicine to Iran and other countries currently facing economic sanctions on a case-by-case basis.
Since then, the administration has been involved in a rule-writing process that State Department Undersecretary Stuart Eizenstat has said will be completed by the end of June. Eizenstat has also promised lawmakers the rules will not be too complicated for exporters to use.
Iranian Speaker Underlines WOMEN'S Role
TEHRAN - XINHUA - Iranian Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali
Akbar Netaq Nouri on Tuesday underlined women's role in parliaments of
Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency, Nouri said that Iran stresses the need to strengthen presence of women in parliaments of Muslim states and has proposed to put the issue on the agenda of the Organization of the Islamic Parliaments (OIP).
He said that both man and woman in Iran have active role in all social affairs, including politics and decision-making procedures, adding that parliaments and legislative bodies of other Muslim countries should be oriented towards this goal.
The OIP founding conference was opened here on Tuesday morning with the participation of lawmakers from some 40 Islamic countries.
Nouri said that the conference would deal with the OIP charter and where its secretariat should be based.
Referring to the possible impact of the organization on removal of the problems facing the Islamic world, the Iranian speaker said the gathering of Muslim speakers and parliamentarians is important itself, because many problems are solved on the side lines of such sessions.
Jackson to Meet Iranians in NY on Jewish Prisoners
NEW YORK,(Reuters) - Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, who is
trying to secure the release of 13 Iranian Jews imprisoned on spying charges by Tehran,
said on Sunday he would meet Iranian government officials at the U.N. in New York
Jackson said he believed it was in Iran's interests to release the 13 rabbis, teachers and community leaders to bolster its rapprochement policy with the West.
"It is in Iran's interests (to free the prisoners), to pull down walls and to build bridges," Jackson said after attending a prayer vigil at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan with Jewish American leaders and National Council of Churches General Secretary Rev Dr Joan Brown Campbell. "This is a great moment for that state to make the statement to the world to build a bridge."
Iran's intelligence officials announced on Thursday the arrest of 13 suspects from a "Zionist" spy network in Shiraz, the main city in southern Fars province. The United States and Israel have called for the immediate release of the Iranian Jews. Israel has denied that the men were spying for it.
Jackson said in Los Angeles on Friday that he was "absolutely" willing to travel to Iran if necessary to negotiate the release of the Iranian Jews, who face the death sentence if convicted.
Jackson, who has travelled on several international missions over the years to negotiate the humanitarian release of prisoners, made headlines most recently May 2 when he secured the freedom of three U.S. soldiers captured by Yugoslavia with the help of Rev. Campbell.
"We have not heard from them (the Iranian government) yet," Jackson said in New York on Sunday. "We have made our appeals already through government leaders, the religious leadership and civil society. We hope to hear more tomorrow after having touched base with the Iranian mission (to the United Nations)."
Ranging in age from 16 to 48, the Iranian Jews were arrested in March. Jackson, a former presidential candidate who heads the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, agreed to make the appeal to the Iranian government after an emotional meeting in Los Angeles on Friday with the families of the Iranian Jews.
President Says He Is Responsible for Religious Minorities' Welfare
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said he is responsible
for the welfare of all religious minorities, state-run radio reported Sunday.
Khatami's comments on Saturday followed an announcement last week that the Iranian government was prosecuting 13 Iranian Jews on charges of spying for Israel and the United States. The announcement drew international condemnation, with U.S. and Israeli officials saying the charges were unfounded and demanding the prisoners' release.
Khatami "pointed to the freedom of all religions and minorities in the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and said that he was responsible for every single member of every religious persuasion who lived in Iran," the British Broadcasting Corp. quoted the Tehran radio as saying. The BBC was monitored in Dubai.
The president was speaking at a ceremony at the Tehran headquarters of the elite Revolutionary Guards, the report said.
Last week, Tehran radio reported the government was prosecuting the 13 Jews on spying charges. Independent sources outside Iran said the group was arrested March 31, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Espionage in Iran is punishable by death. In 1997, Iran hanged two people convicted of spying for Israel and the United States.
The arrests are seen as an effort by Khatami's hard-line rivals to embarrass his government and complicate recent tentative efforts to improve U.S.-Iranian relations, which have been hostile for more than two decades.
Jews are free to practice their religion in Iran and also hold seats in parliament. More than 200,000 Jews have left the country in the past 20 years, since the U.S.-backed Shah was overthrown and the Islamic government came to power. About 25,000 Jews remain.