Iran Seeks Ways to Defend Against US Sanctions

Iran is studying ways to keep exporting oil and other measures to counter U.S. economic sanctions, state news agency IRNA reported Saturday.

Since last month, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal that lifted most sanctions in 2015, the rial currency has dropped up to 40 percent in value, prompting protests by bazaar traders usually loyal to the Islamist rulers.

Speaking after three days of those protests, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. sanctions were aimed at turning Iranians against their government.

Other protesters clashed with police late Saturday during a demonstration against shortages of drinking water.

“They bring to bear economic pressure to separate the nation from the system … but six U.S. presidents before him [Trump] tried this and had to give up,” Khamenei said on his website Khamenei.ir.

With the return of U.S. sanctions likely to make it increasingly difficult to access the global financial system, President Hassan Rouhani has met with the head of parliament and the judiciary to discuss countermeasures.

“Various scenarios of threats to the Iranian economy by the U.S. government were examined and appropriate measures were taken to prepare for any probable U.S. sanctions, and to prevent their negative impact,” IRNA said.

One such measure was seeking self-sufficiency in gasoline production, the report added.

Looking for buyers

The government and parliament have also set up a committee to study potential buyers of oil and ways of repatriating the income after U.S. sanctions take effect, Fereydoun Hassanvand, head of the parliament’s energy committee, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

“Due to the possibility of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the committee will study the competence of buyers and how to obtain proceeds from the sale of oil, safe sale alternatives which are consistent with international law and do not lead to corruption and profiteering,” Hassanvand said.

The United States has told allies to cut all imports of Iranian oil by November, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

In the separate unrest, demonstrators protesting against shortages of drinking water in oil-rich southwestern Iran clashed with police late Saturday after officers ordered about 500 protesters to disperse, IRNA reported.

Shots could be heard on videos circulated on social media from protests in Khorramshahr, which has been the scene of demonstrations for the past three days, along with the nearby city of Abadan. The videos could not be authenticated by Reuters.

A number of protests have broken out in Iran since the beginning of the year over water, a growing political concern because of a drought that residents of parched areas and analysts say has been exacerbated by mismanagement.

Speaking before the IRNA report on the clash, Khamenei said the United States was acting with Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states, which regard Shiite Muslim Iran as their main regional foe, to try to destabilize the government in Tehran.

“If America was able to act against Iran, it would not need to form coalitions with notorious and reactionary states in the region and ask their help in fomenting unrest and instability,” Khamenei told graduating Revolutionary Guards officers, in remarks carried by state TV.

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Iran Seeks Ways to Defend Against US Sanctions

Iran is studying ways to keep exporting oil and other measures to counter U.S. economic sanctions, state news agency IRNA reported Saturday.

Since last month, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal that lifted most sanctions in 2015, the rial currency has dropped up to 40 percent in value, prompting protests by bazaar traders usually loyal to the Islamist rulers.

Speaking after three days of those protests, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. sanctions were aimed at turning Iranians against their government.

Other protesters clashed with police late Saturday during a demonstration against shortages of drinking water.

“They bring to bear economic pressure to separate the nation from the system … but six U.S. presidents before him [Trump] tried this and had to give up,” Khamenei said on his website Khamenei.ir.

With the return of U.S. sanctions likely to make it increasingly difficult to access the global financial system, President Hassan Rouhani has met with the head of parliament and the judiciary to discuss countermeasures.

“Various scenarios of threats to the Iranian economy by the U.S. government were examined and appropriate measures were taken to prepare for any probable U.S. sanctions, and to prevent their negative impact,” IRNA said.

One such measure was seeking self-sufficiency in gasoline production, the report added.

Looking for buyers

The government and parliament have also set up a committee to study potential buyers of oil and ways of repatriating the income after U.S. sanctions take effect, Fereydoun Hassanvand, head of the parliament’s energy committee, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

“Due to the possibility of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the committee will study the competence of buyers and how to obtain proceeds from the sale of oil, safe sale alternatives which are consistent with international law and do not lead to corruption and profiteering,” Hassanvand said.

The United States has told allies to cut all imports of Iranian oil by November, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

In the separate unrest, demonstrators protesting against shortages of drinking water in oil-rich southwestern Iran clashed with police late Saturday after officers ordered about 500 protesters to disperse, IRNA reported.

Shots could be heard on videos circulated on social media from protests in Khorramshahr, which has been the scene of demonstrations for the past three days, along with the nearby city of Abadan. The videos could not be authenticated by Reuters.

A number of protests have broken out in Iran since the beginning of the year over water, a growing political concern because of a drought that residents of parched areas and analysts say has been exacerbated by mismanagement.

Speaking before the IRNA report on the clash, Khamenei said the United States was acting with Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states, which regard Shiite Muslim Iran as their main regional foe, to try to destabilize the government in Tehran.

“If America was able to act against Iran, it would not need to form coalitions with notorious and reactionary states in the region and ask their help in fomenting unrest and instability,” Khamenei told graduating Revolutionary Guards officers, in remarks carried by state TV.

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Senior US Diplomat for Asia to Retire

A senior U.S. diplomat for Asian affairs is leaving State Department at the end of July amid ongoing and critical negotiations with North Korea, weeks after the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea met in Singapore.

“Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton has announced her intention to retire from the Foreign Service at the end of July,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saturday in a statement.

“We particularly appreciate her dedication to department and interagency colleagues, her extraordinary leadership, especially as acting assistant secretary over the past year and a half,” Nauert added.

Thornton was formally nominated by President Donald Trump as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs last December. She began serving in the position in an acting capacity soon after Trump took office.

Thornton’s nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, has been blocked by key Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

In a tweet in May, Rubio said Thornton was “undermining” Trump’s effort to negotiate with North Korea by suggesting that the U.S. might accept a “partial” surrender of its nuclear weapons at the start of the talks.

Rubio was quoting Thornton’s remarks at a Wall Street Journal conference in Tokyo.

The State Department later clarified, saying Thornton’s position was in line with that of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

“What Susan Thornton was talking about is very similar and the same thing to what Secretary Pompeo spoke about, and that is that we would like to see a bigger, bolder, different, faster deal than the kind of deals that have been proposed before,” Nauert said in a briefing May 17.

Pompeo is said to be working diligently on nominations to fill key leadership roles across the State Department, including the position of assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

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Senior US Diplomat for Asia to Retire

A senior U.S. diplomat for Asian affairs is leaving State Department at the end of July amid ongoing and critical negotiations with North Korea, weeks after the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea met in Singapore.

“Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton has announced her intention to retire from the Foreign Service at the end of July,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saturday in a statement.

“We particularly appreciate her dedication to department and interagency colleagues, her extraordinary leadership, especially as acting assistant secretary over the past year and a half,” Nauert added.

Thornton was formally nominated by President Donald Trump as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs last December. She began serving in the position in an acting capacity soon after Trump took office.

Thornton’s nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, has been blocked by key Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

In a tweet in May, Rubio said Thornton was “undermining” Trump’s effort to negotiate with North Korea by suggesting that the U.S. might accept a “partial” surrender of its nuclear weapons at the start of the talks.

Rubio was quoting Thornton’s remarks at a Wall Street Journal conference in Tokyo.

The State Department later clarified, saying Thornton’s position was in line with that of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

“What Susan Thornton was talking about is very similar and the same thing to what Secretary Pompeo spoke about, and that is that we would like to see a bigger, bolder, different, faster deal than the kind of deals that have been proposed before,” Nauert said in a briefing May 17.

Pompeo is said to be working diligently on nominations to fill key leadership roles across the State Department, including the position of assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

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Trump, Trudeau Discuss Economic Issues by Phone

U.S. President Donald Trump discussed trade and other economic issues late Friday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Saturday.

The phone call between the two leaders was the first to be publicly disclosed since Trump blasted Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak” at the end of the Group of Seven leaders meeting in Canada this month.

Trump has repeatedly suggested Canada was profiting from U.S. trade, and his blistering comments after the G-7 meeting drove bilateral relations to their lowest point in decades.

On Friday, Canada struck back at the Trump administration over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, vowing to impose punitive measures on $16.6 billion ($12.6 billion U.S.) worth of American goods until Washington relents.

During the call, Trudeau told Trump that Canada had no choice but to announce reciprocal countermeasures to the steel and aluminum tariffs, according to a separate statement issued by Canada late Friday. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a way forward, the statement added.

Trudeau also expressed his condolences for the victims of the shooting at The Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, the Canadian statement said.

Separately, Trudeau also spoke with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday to discuss the Mexican elections set for Sunday. The two leaders also discussed the North American Free Trade (NAFTA) negotiations and agreed to continue working toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

Negotiations to modernize NAFTA started last August and were initially scheduled to finish by the end of December, but the three countries have yet to reach a deal.

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Trump, Trudeau Discuss Economic Issues by Phone

U.S. President Donald Trump discussed trade and other economic issues late Friday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Saturday.

The phone call between the two leaders was the first to be publicly disclosed since Trump blasted Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak” at the end of the Group of Seven leaders meeting in Canada this month.

Trump has repeatedly suggested Canada was profiting from U.S. trade, and his blistering comments after the G-7 meeting drove bilateral relations to their lowest point in decades.

On Friday, Canada struck back at the Trump administration over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, vowing to impose punitive measures on $16.6 billion ($12.6 billion U.S.) worth of American goods until Washington relents.

During the call, Trudeau told Trump that Canada had no choice but to announce reciprocal countermeasures to the steel and aluminum tariffs, according to a separate statement issued by Canada late Friday. The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch on a way forward, the statement added.

Trudeau also expressed his condolences for the victims of the shooting at The Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, the Canadian statement said.

Separately, Trudeau also spoke with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday to discuss the Mexican elections set for Sunday. The two leaders also discussed the North American Free Trade (NAFTA) negotiations and agreed to continue working toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

Negotiations to modernize NAFTA started last August and were initially scheduled to finish by the end of December, but the three countries have yet to reach a deal.

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Diplomats Join Ugandan March to Protest Violence Against Women

The U.S. and French ambassadors joined dozens of Ugandan demonstrators in Kampala on Saturday to protest against what they say is rising violence against women, including murder, rape and kidnapping for ransom.

A flurry of unsolved killings and kidnappings has eroded Ugandans’ trust in the security forces. Since early last year the bodies of more than 20 women have been dumped on roadsides in Kampala.

The failure of police to issue an annual crime report since 2013 has fueled suspicion they are trying to conceal the scale of the problem.

Protesters wore black T-shirts and carried posters bearing the names and ages of women who had been raped and killed in cases that remain unsolved.

“I want this march to raise awareness about what’s going on,” Stephanie Rivoal, French ambassador to Uganda, told reporters at the march.

“When women are killed, sometimes they don’t attract the same attention as when men are killed. I am here to make a statement that women’s lives matter in the same way as men’s lives,” she said.

Critics say the police devote most of their resources and attention to thwarting opponents of Uganda’s long-serving President Yoweri Museveni instead of

detecting and deterring crimes against women.

In a particularly high-profile case, Susan Magara, a daughter of a wealthy businessman, was kidnapped in February in Kampala. Her body was found two weeks later, even after the kidnappers had been paid a ransom, according to local media.

In a speech this month, Museveni accused some members of the security forces of conniving with criminals and announced measures including the collection of DNA from all Ugandans to help curb surging crime in the East African nation.

Police spokesman Patrick Onyango said Saturday’s march was unnecessary.

“I think the organizers want to harvest political capital, because all crimes that they talking about where women victims have been involved … we have investigated them and arrested perpetrators,” Onyango said.

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Diplomats Join Ugandan March to Protest Violence Against Women

The U.S. and French ambassadors joined dozens of Ugandan demonstrators in Kampala on Saturday to protest against what they say is rising violence against women, including murder, rape and kidnapping for ransom.

A flurry of unsolved killings and kidnappings has eroded Ugandans’ trust in the security forces. Since early last year the bodies of more than 20 women have been dumped on roadsides in Kampala.

The failure of police to issue an annual crime report since 2013 has fueled suspicion they are trying to conceal the scale of the problem.

Protesters wore black T-shirts and carried posters bearing the names and ages of women who had been raped and killed in cases that remain unsolved.

“I want this march to raise awareness about what’s going on,” Stephanie Rivoal, French ambassador to Uganda, told reporters at the march.

“When women are killed, sometimes they don’t attract the same attention as when men are killed. I am here to make a statement that women’s lives matter in the same way as men’s lives,” she said.

Critics say the police devote most of their resources and attention to thwarting opponents of Uganda’s long-serving President Yoweri Museveni instead of

detecting and deterring crimes against women.

In a particularly high-profile case, Susan Magara, a daughter of a wealthy businessman, was kidnapped in February in Kampala. Her body was found two weeks later, even after the kidnappers had been paid a ransom, according to local media.

In a speech this month, Museveni accused some members of the security forces of conniving with criminals and announced measures including the collection of DNA from all Ugandans to help curb surging crime in the East African nation.

Police spokesman Patrick Onyango said Saturday’s march was unnecessary.

“I think the organizers want to harvest political capital, because all crimes that they talking about where women victims have been involved … we have investigated them and arrested perpetrators,” Onyango said.

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