Quake shakes Iranian Caspian Sea province

Tehran  - An earthquake shook Tuesday the Caspian Sea province of Gilan in northern Iran, Fars news agency reported.

The quake, which was also felt in the provincial capital Rasht, is believed to have had a magnitude of over 5 degrees on the Richter Scale.

No details on damage were immediately available. (dpa)

Ahmadinejad inaugurates new legislative period in Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurates new legislative period in IranTeheran  - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated Tuesday the new legislative period of the Iranian parliament which will once again be dominated by conservatives for the next four years.

Conservative factions won almost 70 per cent of the 290 seats in April's elections while the remaining seats went to reformists and independent deputies.

Iran congratulates Lebanon's president-elect Suleiman

Iran congratulates Lebanon's president-elect SuleimanTehran  - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated Michel Suleiman on his election as Lebanon's new president, official news agency IRNA reported Monday.

In a phone contact with Suleiman on Sunday night, Ahmadinejad said that Lebanon would move towards stability and reassured the new president that Iran would always stand besides the Lebanese nation.

While appreciating Iran's efforts in resolving the crisis in his country, IRNA quoted Suleiman as saying that any discord in Lebanon would just benefit Israel.

Iran says Suleiman's election big victory for Lebanon

Tehran  - Iran termed the election of Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's new president as a big victory for the Lebanese nation, ISNA news agency reported Monday.

ISNA quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying that following Suleiman's election a new chapter has been opened in the history of Lebanon.

Suleiman took the oath of office as the 12th president on Sunday, filling a post left vacant for six months and ending a political crisis that threatened a new civil war. (dpa)

Iran mulls special military section for missile projects

Iran mulls special military section for missile projectsTehran  - Iran might establish a special section within the paramilitary revolutionary guards (IRGC) for strengthening its missile projects, the Tehran daily Hamshari reported Monday.

The daily quoted IRGC commander General Mohammad-Ali Jafari as saying that in line with changes in the missile projects, a special and independent unit might become necessary considering the "new conditions and form of threats."

He gave no further details.

Ali Larijani to become next leader in Iranian parliament

Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator Ali LarijaniTehran  - Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is to become the next speaker in the Iranian parliament, Tehran media reported Monday.

The two main conservative factions which in the elections last March won almost 70 per cent of the 290 seats have reportedly met on Sunday in Tehran and decided on Larijani to become the next parliament speaker, ISNA news agency reported.

Former speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel was reportedly rejected by the new members of parliament to continue in his position.

Strong explosion in Iraq's Fallujah, but no losses reported

Baghdad  - A strong explosion occurred Friday in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah, but no losses have been reported in the blast, media reports said.

Sources told the Voice of Iraq (VOI) news agency that the explosion occurred in an area where almost all the city's governmental offices and the police station are located.

Heavy black smoke was seen rising from the blast scene.

The reason for the blast was not immediately known, but an investigation was under way.

The blast is the second in the area after a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle in Dobat district injuring two people on May 18. (dpa)

No progress in IAEA Iran probe, diplomats say

No progress in IAEA Iran probe, diplomats sayVienna - Iran continues to hamper attempts by the UN nuclear watchdog to investigate allegations it has been pursuing studies geared to nuclear weapons applications, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met with resistance from Iran when trying to discuss intelligence provided by other member states regarding so-called weaponization studies, they said.

Iran refused to discuss the matter in any depth, despite several trips to Iran by IAEA chief inspector Olli Heinonen, the diplomats said.

Ahmadinejad: Iran's cabinet like football team, changes necessary

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tehran  - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday compared his cabinet with a football team and said that, as with football, the coach must replace the players from time to time.

Ahmadinejad has been criticized widely for constant changes in his cabinet with his legal deputy and interior minister the latest ones having been sacked.

"It is like in football. A coach decides who can play better in what post, and it is natural that the replaced players get angry," Ahmadinejad told reporters after a cabinet session in Tehran.

Iran welcomes agreement to end Lebanon crisis

Iran welcomes agreement to end Lebanon crisisTehran  - Iran welcomed the agreement reached Wednesday by Lebanese rival groups to end the political crisis in Lebanon, state television reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said in a statement that the agreement reached in Doha would hopefully lead to a united stance among all political groups in Lebanon and eventually to a bright future for the Lebanese nation.

While thanking the Qatari government for its efforts, the spokesman said that Iran also made its utmost efforts to make the Doha meeting successful.

No date yet fixed for Solana visit to Tehran, spokesman says

Tehran - Mohammad-Ali HosseiniNo date has yet been fixed for the visit by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said Monday.

The spokesman told reporters in Tehran that talks were being held for a visit by Solana and representatives of the five UN veto powers plus Germany (5+1) in order to give an upgraded incentive to the Iranian government.

Hosseini was referring to an offer by the 5+1 aimed at persuading Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities.

Tehran signals willingness to talk to next US administration

Tehran signals willingness to talk to next US administrationTehran  - Tehran on Sunday once again signalled its willingness to have talks with the next United States administration after the presidential elections.

While doubting talks could take place with the current administration, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran might hold talks with Washington following the presidential elections later this year.

"There will be no talks with the US for the time being but let's see on what basis the US policies would be in the future," ISNA news agency quoted Mottaki as saying.

Iran criticizes Saudi Arabia for oil production increase

Tehran  - Iran criticizes Saudi Arabia for oil production increaseIran on Saturday criticized a decision by Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production, Fars news agency reported.

While terming the Saudi decision a "political move," Iranian Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari told Fars that a production increase would just lead to a further increase in reserves.

Fars reported that the increase followed a request by US President George W Bush during his visit to the kingdom on Friday, although the Saudi decision to increase its production by 3.3 per cent (300,000 barrels) was made on May 10.

Archaeologists discover Iranian ancient city

Tehran, May 17: A team of archaeologists from the Yazd Cultural Heritage Center (YCHC) in Iran has discovered the Achaemenid era predecessor of the city of Yazd.

Covering some 500 hectares, the ancient city is located about 12 kilometers away from the modern city of Yazd, YCHC Director Mohammad-Hassan Khademzadeh told the Persian service of CHN.

The team has unearthed ruins of the city as well as shards, ancient kilns, and masses of kilns’ clinkers and pieces of glass, he added.

They have also found ruins of some qanats (underground aqueducts) at a nearby site. The team surmises that the upcoming studies will likely provide evidence proving that qanats were in use in pre-Achaemenid times.

Iran-IAEA nuclear talks in Tehran finished without any new results

Iran IAEATehran  - Iran and a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finished their three-day talks in Tehran without reaching any new results, Iran's IAEA envoy Ali-Asqar Soltanieh told ISNA news agency Thursday.

This round of talks was held between Soltanieh and IAEA regional chief Herman Nackaerts at Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

"Nothing new was raised and decided," Soltanieh told ISNA.

Austria's OMV under fire over Iran deal at shareholders' meeting

AustriaVienna  - Anti-Iran activists held protests at the outset of the annual shareholders' meeting of Austria's oil and gas company OMV on Wednesday, slamming a planned multi-billion dollar gas deal.

A small number of activists from several anti-nuclear, Kurdish or Jewish NGOs picketed in front of the meetings location, a conference centre in Vienna, chanting slogans against Iran's "jihadist regime" and held up of photos apparently showing evidence of human rights violations by Tehran.

Afghanistan protests killing of its nationals by Iranian troops

Iran TroopsKabul  - The Afghan Foreign Ministry summoned Iran's charge d'affaires in Kabul to protest the killing of several Afghans by Iranian border forces, the ministry said on Wednesday.

"The Afghan government has expressed its concern and asked the Iranian side to provide them with an explanation regarding the killing and wounding of several Afghan nationals by Iranian border forces in south-western province of Nimruz on Monday," the ministry said in statement.

Afghan officials in Nimruz province earlier said that four Afghans were killed and several others were wounded on Monday night as they tried to cross the border into Iran.

Russia says "six" could guarantee Iran's security

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Yekaterinenburg, Russia  - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the six UN nations negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear programme should offer Iran security guarantees.

"I think the six could take the following step: firmly place concrete offers on the negotiating table, guaranteeing Iran's security and ensuring it a more prominent position in negotiations in Middle East talks," Lavrov was quoted by Itar-tass as saying.

Lavrov was meeting with his German and Chinese counterparts Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Yang Jeichi in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

Ahmadinejad predicts no changes with Russia under Medvedev

Dmitry-MedvedevTehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday predicted no changes in relations with Russia during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev.

"Iran and Russia and two old neighbours and their relations should naturally be united and therefore I predict no changes," Ahmadinejad told a press conference in Tehran.

"Furthermore, global developments and our common stances on several issues will push both states towards further deepening bilateral ties," Ahmadinejad added.

He also declared readiness to visit the new Russian president in Moscow and invited Medvedev to Tehran.

Iran's Ahmadinejad challenges new US president to debate

Iran US flagTehran  - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday invited the new United States president to a debate.

"I invited (last year) the (current) US president to a debate at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, but he rejected," Ahmadinejad told reporters in Tehran.

"Now that his term is coming to an end, I am ready to have this debate with one the candidates (who wins the presidential race)," he said.

Ahmadinejad added that Iran has always said that except Israel, Iran would talk to any other country, including the US.

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