PARIS: France urged the Syrian regime and its ally Moscow today to grant weapons inspectors immediate access to the site of an alleged chemical attack, accusing them of “obstruction” aimed at eroding the quality of the evidence.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who arrived in Damascus last Saturday, needed “full, immediate and unhindered access” to the site in the town of Douma.
Their mission has been put on hold after a United Nations security assessment team were fired at, and officials at the OPCW have said that Russian and Syrian forces have likely removed key evidence.
“At this time the OPCW investigators still have no access to the chemical attack site in Douma. If Russia and Syria ultimately abide by their commitments, it will take (the investigators) at least two weeks,” Le Drian said in a statement.
“The OPCW mission has as its goal establishing whether a chemical attack indeed took place and identifying the nature of the chemical agent used. This obstruction will obviously harm the quality of the investigation,” he added.
“It seems likely that this attitude is intended to make proof and material evidence linked to the chemical attack disappear.” France joined the United States and Britain in launching air strikes a week ago against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, in retaliation against an alleged chemical attack in Douma which local medics said killed at least 40 people.
Israel demolishes Palestinian village of Al-Araqeeb for 132nd time
RAMALLAH: Israeli occupation bulldozers Thursday demolished the Palestinian village of Al-Araqeeb in the occupied Negev desert for the 132nd time.
High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel said in a statement that Israeli bulldozers, backed by Israeli occupation
forces stormed the Palestinian village and started demolishing tents and houses, leaving men, women, and children homeless. The Israeli occupation police arrested a number of Al-Araqeeb’s residents.
20% of Caspian Sea resources should belong to Iran: FM
TEHRAN: The Islamic Republic of Iran has never accepted such an illusory line, Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in a TV program as the idea that Iran should possess 50 percent of the Caspian Sea, is wrong because in that case Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan would have no share.
Unfortunately, at the time of the former regime of Iran, due to its dependence on foreigners, the ex-Soviet Union never allowed Iran to take even a step across the so-called Asta line and Iran did not get even a drop of oil, Zarif said.
‘What happened after the establishment of the Islamic Republic is that we did not allow Iran’s share to be decreased. The illusory 11-percent line is no longer valid. Of course, some tried to revive this illusory historical procedure which had been forcibly imposed on Iran during the former regime but the Islamic Republic rejected it,’ the foreign minister said.
He said the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea does not allow the littoral states to use the waters for military purposes against other countries, expressing surprise that some friends were bringing such matters of national pride under question.
‘There are kilometers of pipelines in the Caspian Sea which date back to the era of the former Soviet Union and no one used to consult us in this regard. But this does not bring them any right,’ Zarif said.
The foreign minister made it clear ‘Demarcation of the sea has not been done yet and Iran’s territorial integrity has been preserved in the Convention. Preparations have been made for future negotiations.’
On the latest developments concerning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Zarif said the Europeans have acted well concerning their commitment to the deal and they are now standing up to their ally.
Pakistan, China to further deepen cooperation in maritime sectors
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Thursday agreed to further deepen practical cooperation in maritime sectors of the two countries.
During 3rd round of Maritime dialogue in Beijing on Thursday, both the sides held comprehensive discussions on the entire range of maritime cooperation between Pakistan and China. These included: evaluation of Pakistan-China existing maritime cooperation; bilateral cooperation and exchanges between the two Navies; cooperation in fisheries sector; maritime security, and science and technology cooperation.
According to a press release of Foreign Office, Additional Secretary Imtiaz Ahmad led the Pakistani delegation while the Chinese side was led by Deputy Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kong Xuanyou.
The two sides expressed satisfaction over the current level of cooperation and vowed to further strengthen and enhance bilateral cooperation in all mutually relevant areas. Both the countries expressed their commitment to further improve cooperation in matters of regional and international significance.