Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 27 - The head of the Iranian Nurses Union said Irans nurses would stage nationwide protests on January 18, 2005, if the authorities continue to ignore their demands. Mohammad Sharafi Moghadam reiterated that the authorities have thus far refused to issue permission for a rally and therefore a protest had been organised instead.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 27 More than 200 workers from Iran Pars Garment plan to hold a rally over back pay in Tehran this week. They will begin a march from the city of Rasht (northern Gilan province) to the Iranian capital, the state-run news agency ILNA said. The workers have not received their salaries for the past seven months and Gilan Workers Union demands for government action have proven fruitless.
Financial Times: Trade talks between Iran and the European Union are set to begin on January 12 as the EU drive to improve ties with Tehran gathers pace. France, Germany and the UK have been keen to offer Iran incentives to restrict its nuclear programme, which the US suspects is intended to develop atomic weapons.
AFP: Iraq will tell its neighbours to "stop meddling" in its affairs when they meet in Amman next month, interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in an interview with Chinese state media Monday. "We will definitely raise the issue and tell the world to stop meddling," the foreign minister told Xinhua news agency after a four-trip visit to China.
BBC: Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said the death sentence on writer Salman Rushdie for alleged blasphemy will remain in force. He rejected the author's repentance and recent decision not to publish a paperback edition of the novel The Satanic Verses which was deemed offensive to the Islamic faith.
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 26 Iranian press have reported the public execution of at least four women in the past year, with at least 14 more to be publicly hanged or stoned to death.
Iran Focus has obtained the names and particulars of the four executed women, among them a 16-year-old girl. They were:
AFP: Iran reiterated on Sunday that it was not interested in direct talks with arch-foe the United States over its nuclear activities and said a US role in negotiations with Europe would not be "beneficial." "There is no such thing on the agenda of the Islamic republic," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. "Iran is not interested in an American role in its discussions with Europe and we do not consider a US presence in the talks to be beneficial," he added.
AFP: Iran said Sunday that Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi might boycott a meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Amman next after the Jordanian king charged that Tehran was meddling in Iraq's affairs. "It is possible that he might not take part (in the January 15 meeting)," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters, adding that Iran would be reviewing its level of participation.
Washington Times - Op/Ed: The U.N. General Assembly took a step in the right direction on Monday by passing a resolution criticizing the Iranian government's abysmal human-rights record. The General Assembly voted 71-54 with 55 abstentions to condemn the regime's repression of free speech and use of torture against political opponents.
Los Angeles Times: Their cheeks were bitten by the threat of snow, but the sisters didn't have anywhere else to go. They'd coated their faces with makeup and painted their eyelashes until they looked too heavy to blink, gaudy faces to offset drab denims and black coats. This afternoon, their spirits hung as low as the brooding clouds over the mountains.
Reuters: Mourning Iranians have flocked to the southeastern city of Bam in recent days to mark the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake which killed tens of thousands and left the ancient Silk Road city in ruins. Bam, a date palm oasis in Iran's southern deserts built around an ancient citadel, was flattened by an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the ...
Iran Focus: Tehran, Dec. 25 The acting director-general of the workers union of the city of Shahre-Rey (southwest of Tehran) yesterday said that workers were currently living below the poverty line. Ali Tarkashvand said that workers desire to work with dignity with the hope of earning salaries to be able to have a reasonable lifestyle.
Iran Focus: Baghdad, Dec. 24 - The Iraqi Defence Minister stated that Iraq would soon display footage of Iranian meddling throughout the country. Hazem Shaalan said that Iraqi security forces were able to obtain foreign satellite footage of 50 suicide vehicles entering the country from Iran.
Amnesty International: The case of Leyla Mafi, who faces execution on account of charges including sexual intercourse with blood relatives, giving birth to an illegitimate child and acts contrary to chastity, flies in the face of justice and human dignity. It also breaches Iran's own obligationsunder international law, Amnesty International said.
AFP: Despite President George W. Bush's stern warnings to Iran and Syria against "meddling" in Iraq, Washington has shown no sign of readying new sanctions and appears to have little leverage with either state. Bush raised eyebrows last week when he issued the threat to the two countries accused by the US-installed Baghdad government of orchestrating attacks in Iraq ahead of next month's crucial elections.