With N-deal done, Iran sets out to reassure wary Gulf Arabs
Iran's foreign minister called on Sunday for a united front among middle eastern nations to fight militancy, in his first regional trip after reaching an agreement with world powers on the country's nuclear programme - an agreement that raised fears among its Gulf Arab neighbours.
"Any threat to one country is a threat to all ... No country can solve regional problems without the help of others," Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news conference hosted by the Iranian embassy in Kuwait.
Zarif earlier met Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah and Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah, who was not present at the news conference.
After Kuwait, Zarif travelled to Qatar, where he was to meet the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. He was due to go to Iraq next.
Most Gulf Arab states are worried that Iran's July 14 accord will hasten detente between Tehran and Washington, emboldening Tehran to increase backing for Middle Eastern allies at odds with Gulf Arab countries.
"Iran stands behind the people in the region to fight against the threat of extremism, terrorism and sectarianism ... Our message to the regional countries is that we should fight together against this shared challenge," Zarif added.
Most Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf Arab states have long accused Tehran of interference in Arab affairs, alleging financial or armed support for political movements in countries including Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon.
Predominantly Shi'ite Iran denies interference but says the nuclear agreement will not change its policies in the region.
Before his Gulf visit, Zarif said in a statement posted on his ministry's website late on Friday that Tehran would continue supporting its allies in Syria and Iraq to fight against militant group Islamic State.
"The Iranian nation supports all oppressed nations," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier, during a visit on Sunday to Iran's Kurdistan Province: "If it wasn't for Iran, Erbil and Baghdad would have also fallen to the terrorists (of Islamic State) ... Just as we defended Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah (in Iraqi Kurdistan), if any country in the whole region is a victim of aggression, the Iranian nation will defend the oppressed," Rouhani added.
Bahrain said on Saturday it had foiled an arms smuggling plot by two Bahrainis with ties to Iran and announced the recall of the Gulf island kingdom's ambassador to Tehran for consultations after what it said were repeated hostile Iranian statements.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson, Marzieh Afkham, called this allegation "baseless and repetitive," saying Bahrain is only trying to "create tension in the region."
"This approach is not constructive and it will not stop Iran's trust-building policy to cooperate with regional countries to fight against extremism and terrorism," Afkham was quoted as saying by state news agency, IRNA.
Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to six more years in prison on Monday in a judgment that could further anger supporters of the 77-year-old Nobel peace prize laureate. It's the fourth round of criminal verdicts against Suu Kyi since the military seized power in a 2021 coup and brings her total jail term to 17 years, extinguishing any chance of her staging a political comeback while the junta remain in power.
The Taliban marked a year in power on Monday with small-scale celebrations by the group's fighters as Afghanistan struggles with rising poverty, drought, malnutrition and fading hope among women that they will have a decisive role in the country's future. "This day is the day of the victory of truth over falsehood and the day of salvation and freedom of the Afghan nation," said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
Heavy rains set off flash floods that killed at least 31 people and left dozens missing in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban's state-run news agency reported Monday. The Bakhtar News Agency said the flooding took place on Sunday in northern Parwan province. The province is ringed by mountainous and more often witnesses floods from heavy rains. The local weather department said more rains were expected in the coming days in most of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
Salman Rushdie is still in a critical condition, but his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact, his son has said, as the Mumbai-born author battles severe, life-changing injuries. Rushdie, 75, was taken off a ventilator on Saturday and could talk after he was stabbed on stage at a literary event in New York state on Friday.
An Iranian government official denied on Monday that Tehran was involved in the assault on author Salman Rushdie, in remarks that were the country's first public comments on the attack. The comments by Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman of Iran's Foreign Ministry, come over two days after the attack on Rushdie in New York. His assailant, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the attack through his lawyer.