UN Unanimously Adopts Softer Sanctions on North Korea

The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Monday new sanctions against North Korea. (Reuters)
The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Monday new sanctions against North Korea. (Reuters)
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UN Unanimously Adopts Softer Sanctions on North Korea

The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Monday new sanctions against North Korea. (Reuters)
The UN Security Council unanimously approved on Monday new sanctions against North Korea. (Reuters)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved on Monday new sanctions against North Korea that bans it from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates.

The sanctions were not the toughest-ever measures sought by the administration of US President Donald Trump that had vowed to ban all oil imports and freeze international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong-Un.

The resolution was a response to Pyongyang's sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion that it carried out on September 3 and which it alleged to have test a hydrogen bomb, drawing international alarm and condemnation.

The sanctions cap Pyongyang's imports of crude oil at the level of the last 12 months, and it limits the import of refined petroleum products to 2 million barrels a year. They also ban all textile exports and prohibit any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers — two key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

The watered-down resolution does not include sanctions that the US wanted on North Korea's national airline and the army.

Nonetheless, US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote that "these are by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea." But she stressed that "these steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively."

"Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea," she said. "We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing" and instead are taking steps to prevent it "from doing the wrong thing."

"The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return," she said. "If it agrees to stop its nuclear program it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it. ... If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure."

The final agreement was reached after negotiations between the US and China, the North's ally and major trading partner. Haley said the resolution never would have happened without the "strong relationship" between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But its provisions are a significant climb-down from the very tough sanctions the Trump administration proposed last Tuesday, especially on oil, where a complete ban could have crippled North Korea's economy.

The cap on the import of petroleum products could have an impact, but North Korea will still be able to import the same amount of crude oil that it has this year.

The textile ban is significant. Textiles are North Korea's main source of export revenue after coal, iron, seafood and other minerals that have already been severely restricted by previous UN resolutions. North Korean textile exports in 2016 totaled $752.5 million, accounting for about one-fourth of its total $3 billion in merchandise exports, according to South Korean government figures.

Haley said the Trump administration believes the new sanctions combined with previous measures would ban over 90 percent of North Korea's exports reported in 2016.

As for North Koreans working overseas, the US mission said a cutoff on new work permits will eventually cost North Korea about $500 million a year once current work permits expire. The US estimates about 93,000 North Koreans are working abroad, the US official said.

The original US draft would have ordered all countries to impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Kim Jong-Un and four other top party and government officials. The resolution adopted Monday adds only one person to the sanctions list — Pak Yong Sik, a member of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Military Commission, which controls the country's military and helps direct its military industries.

The original US draft would also have frozen the assets of North Korea's state-owned airline Air Koryo, the Korean People's Army and five other powerful military and party entities. The resolution adds only the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea and the party's powerful Organization and Guidance Department and its Propaganda and Agitation Department to the sanctions blacklist.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement early Monday saying it was watching the United States' moves closely and warned that it was "ready and willing" to respond with measures of its own.

However, North Korea did not issue a response immediately after the adoption of the latest resolution.

The weakening of the sanctions reflects the longstanding rift between sanctions hawk Washington, and China and Russia, which advocate direct talks and more efforts to find a resolution through negotiations. The US has rejected proposals from both countries that it stop joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.

Both Beijing and Moscow had strong words for Washington.

China's UN ambassador urged the council to adopt the freeze-for-freeze proposal and urged the US to pledge not to seek regime change or North Korea's collapse. Russia's envoy said Washington's unwillingness to have UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres try to resolve the dispute "gives rise to very serious questions in our minds."

South Korea’s presidential Blue House said on Tuesday the only way for Pyongyang to end diplomatic isolation and become free of economic pressure was to end it nuclear program and resume dialogue.

“North Korea needs to realize that a reckless challenge against international peace will only bring about even stronger international sanctions against it,” the Blue House said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quickly welcomed the resolution and said after the vote it was important to change North Korea’s policy by imposing a higher level of pressure.



US, Allies Plan More Iran Sanctions

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 April 2024. EPA/Al Drago / POOL
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 April 2024. EPA/Al Drago / POOL
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US, Allies Plan More Iran Sanctions

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 April 2024. EPA/Al Drago / POOL
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 April 2024. EPA/Al Drago / POOL

The US and its allies planned fresh sanctions against Iran over its unprecedented attack on Israel, seeking to dissuade Israel from a major escalation.

While Saturday night's attack caused no deaths and little damage thanks to the air defenses and countermeasures of Israel and its allies, it has increased fears that violence rooted in the six-month-old Gaza war is spreading.

The US is planning to impose new sanctions targeting Iran's missile and drone program in the coming days and expects its allies will be following suit, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These new sanctions and other measures will continue a steady drumbeat of pressure to contain and degrade Iran’s military capacity and effectiveness and confront the full range of its problematic behaviors,” Sullivan said.

Earlier, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US would use sanctions, and work with allies, to keep disrupting Iran's "malign and destabilizing activity."

She told a news conference in Washington all options to disrupt Iran's "terrorist financing" were on the table, and she expected further sanctions against Iran to be announced soon.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, speaking in Brussels after an emergency video conference of EU foreign ministers, said some member states had asked for sanctions against Iran to be expanded and that the bloc's diplomatic service would begin working on the proposal.

Borrell said the proposal would expand a sanctions regime that seeks to curb the supply of Iranian drones to Russia so that it would also include the provision of missiles and could also cover deliveries to Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was "leading a diplomatic attack", writing to 32 countries to ask them to place sanctions on Iran's missile program and follow Washington in proscribing its dominant military force, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a terrorist group.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for an airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 attributed to Israel, but has signaled that it now deems the matter closed.

President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekend that the United States, Israel's main protector, would not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Netanyahu in a call on Tuesday that escalation in the Middle East was in nobody's interest and would only worsen insecurity in the region, so it was "a moment for calm heads to prevail," Sunak's office said.


Ukrainian President Signs Controversial Law to Boost Conscription to Fend Off Russia’s Aggression

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the media during the doorstep of the Three Seas (3SI) Summit at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius, Lithuania, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the media during the doorstep of the Three Seas (3SI) Summit at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius, Lithuania, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
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Ukrainian President Signs Controversial Law to Boost Conscription to Fend Off Russia’s Aggression

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the media during the doorstep of the Three Seas (3SI) Summit at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius, Lithuania, 11 April 2024. (EPA)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the media during the doorstep of the Three Seas (3SI) Summit at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius, Lithuania, 11 April 2024. (EPA)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a controversial law Tuesday, days after it was passed by parliament, potentially helping Kyiv to boost conscription to replenish depleted forces to fend off Russia's continued aggression.

The mobilization law, published on Ukraine’s Parliamentary website, is expected to take effect in a month and make it easier to identify every draft-eligible man in the country. Many have dodged conscription by avoiding contact with authorities.

The law also provides soldiers with incentives, such as cash bonuses or money toward buying a house or car, which according to analysts Ukraine can’t afford.

Ukraine has been struggling to fend off the Russian advance.

Since the full-scale invasion began in Feb.2022, Russia has captured nearly a quarter of Ukraine, which is outnumbered, outgunned and in desperate need of more troops and ammunition, as doubt increases about Western military aid.

The signed law was watered down from its original draft. It didn't include a provision that would rotate out troops who had served 36 months of combat. Authorities said a separate bill on demobilization and rotation would be prepared in the coming months. But the delay caused public outrage among Ukrainians whose relatives have been fighting without breaks for two years.

Exhausted soldiers have no means of taking a break from front-line work because of the current scale and intensity of the war.

Ukraine already suffers from a lack of trained soldiers capable of fighting, and demobilizing soldiers on the front lines now would deprive its forces of the most capable fighters.

In December, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s military wanted to mobilize up to 500,000 more troops. Army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi has since conducted an audit of the military and said soldiers could be rotated from the rear to the front line. The number was revised but has not been disclosed.


Israeli War Cabinet to Hold Third Meeting on Response to Iran’s Attack

 This picture taken from Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli army vehicles driving along the border with the Palestinian territory on April 16, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken from Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli army vehicles driving along the border with the Palestinian territory on April 16, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Israeli War Cabinet to Hold Third Meeting on Response to Iran’s Attack

 This picture taken from Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli army vehicles driving along the border with the Palestinian territory on April 16, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken from Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli army vehicles driving along the border with the Palestinian territory on April 16, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

Israel's war cabinet was set to meet for the third time in three days on Tuesday, an official said, to decide on a response to Iran's first-ever direct attack, amid international pressure to avoid further escalating Middle East conflicts.

Military chief of staff Herzi Halevi had promised that Saturday night's launch of more than 300 missiles, cruise missiles and drones from Iran at Israeli territory "will be met with a response," but gave no details.

While the attack caused no deaths and little damage, thanks to the air defenses and countermeasures of Israel and its allies, it has increased fears that violence rooted in the Gaza war is spreading, with the risk of open war between long-time foes Iran and Israel.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for an airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 attributed to Israel, but signaled that it did not seek further escalation.

President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekend that the United States, Israel's main protector, would not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

Together with European allies, Washington instead strove on Tuesday to toughen economic and political sanctions against Iran in an attempt to dissuade Israel from violent retaliation.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was "leading a diplomatic attack," writing to 32 countries to ask them to place sanctions on Iran's missile program and follow Washington in proscribing its dominant military force, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a terrorist group.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US would use sanctions, and work with allies, to keep disrupting Iran's "malign and destabilizing activity".

She told a news conference in Washington that all options to disrupt Iran's "terrorist financing" were on the table, and that she expected further sanctions against Iran to be announced in coming days.

European Union foreign ministers scheduled a video meeting on the Middle East for Tuesday.

Last autumn, Germany campaigned with France and other EU partners to extend the bloc's existing sanctions regime against Iran that targets drone production.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday that several EU members had now promised to look again at extending those sanctions, announcing that she would head to Israel within hours to discuss how to prevent an escalation.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday the Group of Seven major democracies was working on a package of measures against Iran; Italy, which has the G7 presidency, suggested any new sanctions would target individuals.

IRAN PROMISES RESPONSE 'IN SECONDS, NOT DAYS'

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani had told state TV on Monday night that Tehran's response to any Israeli counterattack would come in "a matter of seconds, as Iran will not wait for another 12 days to respond".

The prospect of Israeli retaliation has alarmed many Iranians already enduring economic pain and tighter social and political controls since major protests in 2022-23.

Since the war in Gaza began in October, clashes have erupted between Israel and Iran-aligned groups based in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Israel said four of its soldiers were wounded hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory overnight, the first known Israeli ground penetration into Lebanon since the Gaza war erupted, although it has regularly traded fire with the heavily armed Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby declined on Monday to say whether Biden had urged Netanyahu in talks on Saturday night to exercise restraint in responding to Iran.

"We don't want to see a war with Iran. We don't want to see a regional conflict," Kirby told a briefing, adding that it was for Israel to decide "whether and how they'll respond".

Some analysts said the Biden administration is unlikely to seek to sharpen sanctions on Iran's oil exports due to worries about a big spike in oil prices and angering top buyer China.

In a call between the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers, China said it believed Iran could "handle the situation well and spare the region further turmoil" while safeguarding its sovereignty and dignity, according to Chinese state media.

Iran's weekend attack caused modest damage in Israel and wounded a 7-year-old girl. Most missiles and drones were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defense system and with help from the US, Britain, France and Jordan.

In Gaza itself, where more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive according to Gaza health ministry figures, Iran's action drew applause.

Israel began its campaign against Hamas, the Iranian-backed Palestinian group that runs Gaza, after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

Iran's attack prompted at least a dozen airlines to cancel or reroute flights, with Europe's aviation regulator still advising caution in using Israeli and Iranian airspace.


Italy Does Not Object the G7 Imposing New Sanctions on Israel’s Enemies

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Reuters)
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Reuters)
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Italy Does Not Object the G7 Imposing New Sanctions on Israel’s Enemies

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Reuters)
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Reuters)

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, said that his country, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the G7, does not mind the group imposing new sanctions on individuals participating in actions against Israel in the wake of the Iranian attack.

Tajani said fresh sanctions would need the backing of all the G7, which includes Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Britain and the United States. He also suggested that any new measures would be focused on individuals rather than whole nations.

“If we need to have more sanctions for people clearly engaged against Israel, supporting for example terrorism, supporting Hamas, it is possible to do it. But we need to be very serious and to work all together,” he told Reuters.

The Italian foreign minister described the Iranian attack as a “big mistake” for Tehran but “positive” for Israel, as it had revealed the efficiency of its air defenses that shot down most of the drones and missiles with help from the US, Britain, France and Jordan, Reuters reported.

The agency also quoted him as saying in English: “The message coming from Tehran on this, (is) going in the right direction. This is only one attack. Also the reaction of the Israeli government has been positive.”

The Italian minister had a phone call with his Iranian counterpart before the attack to urge caution.

“For us it is important to protect Italian soldiers” working in the area under the auspices of the United Nations, he said, adding that Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen had to stop attacks on ships in the Red Sea, which is vital to world trade.

Reuters reported that Tajani also reiterated that Italy was firmly opposed to any Israeli invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah and repeated his call for a ceasefire, while also calling on Hamas to set free all the Israeli hostages it took during the Oct. 7 attack.

He stressed that an Israeli attack on Iran would only create more hurdles to restoring stability in the region. His comments came ahead of a meeting of the G7 foreign ministers on April 17-19 on the Italian island of Capri.

“All together we want to protect Israel, but we want to achieve stability and peace,” he said, quoted by Reuters.


Internal Pressure in Germany to 'Radically' Change Policy towards Iran

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (dpa)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (dpa)
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Internal Pressure in Germany to 'Radically' Change Policy towards Iran

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (dpa)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (dpa)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has sent two warnings to her Iranian counterpart, Amir Hossein Abdollahian, to prevent escalation with Israel.

Although her first call that came prior to the Iranian attack on Israel did not deter Tehran from its plans, the German diplomat sent a second warning, condemning the Iranian strike and calling on Tehran “to immediately stop the violence against Israel and contribute to reducing the escalation.”

While Germany is making every effort to persuade Iran and Israel to alleviate the tension, the country has been facing increasing internal pressure to change its policy towards Iran.

Michael Roth, a representative of the ruling Socialist Party and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, said on X: “Germany’s policy towards Iran must be radically rethought.”

He called for taking four steps in response to Iran’s attack on Israel. First, “the sanctions must be tightened, as Germany is Iran’s most important European partner.” Second, he stressed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard should be “finally” included on the terrorist list, and third, he underlined the importance of working to “isolate Iran diplomatically.” He also stressed the need to “expand defense cooperation with Israel.”

A similar call was issued by Bijan Djir-Sarai, Secretary-General of the Liberal Party. He said that the European Union must “adopt a different policy towards Iran,” pointing to the need to include the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the terrorist list.

Markus Söder, leader of the opposition Bavarian Social Christian party, urged his country and the European Union to adopt “a completely different policy towards Iran”.

He added that it was essential to discuss how Iran can be deterred, by adopting a completely different economic and trade policy designed for sanctions.


Iran Says Does Not Seek Escalation in the Region

A billboard depicting Iranian ballistic missiles and reading “The True Promise”, in Vali Asr Square in central Tehran (AFP)
A billboard depicting Iranian ballistic missiles and reading “The True Promise”, in Vali Asr Square in central Tehran (AFP)
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Iran Says Does Not Seek Escalation in the Region

A billboard depicting Iranian ballistic missiles and reading “The True Promise”, in Vali Asr Square in central Tehran (AFP)
A billboard depicting Iranian ballistic missiles and reading “The True Promise”, in Vali Asr Square in central Tehran (AFP)

Tehran said that it “does not seek escalation in the region,” criticizing the positions of Western powers, especially the United States, after it launched an attack on Israel, and called on those countries to “evaluate” the response to the bombing of its consulate in Damascus.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said during a press conference that the Iranian strike “was necessary and proportionate,” adding that it “targeted military sites.” He added that his country “does not seek escalation”, and is “committed to international laws and rules.”

This came two days after the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched, for the first time in its history, an attack with ballistic missiles and drones on Israel in response to the bombing of the Iranian consulate and the killing of a senior Iranian general. The IRGC did not unveil the type of weapons used in the attack, the number of missiles and drones, or their launch sites.

Kanaani expressed his reservations about international criticism, and recalled the official position declared by Tehran, saying: “The Iranian strike on some Israeli military sites is in the context of our legitimate right stipulated in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, in response to the repeated Israeli attacks, especially the recent attack on our diplomatic headquarters.”

He added that the Iranian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “acted in a professional manner, given the Security Council’s inaction” and the “irresponsible behavior” of the United States and some European countries in failing to “deter the Zionist entity.”

The official IRNA news agency quoted Kanaani as saying: “Western countries, including the United States, must respond logically and responsibly, and must appreciate Iran’s actions in order to maintain regional stability and security instead of making illogical statements and positions.”

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman repeated previous accusations against the United States, saying: “We are convinced that without the green light from Washington, Israel would not have dared to attack the Iranian diplomatic representation” in Damascus.

Kanaani commented on the summoning of the Iranian Chargé d’Affaires in Jordan, and implicitly acknowledged an attack led by the Revolutionary Guard media, saying that it “came in response to the news reported by the Iranian media regarding Jordan, about its interception of Iranian missiles and drones that were launched towards Israeli territory.”

Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi had announced the summoning of the Chargé d’Affaires of the Iranian Embassy in Amman to inform him of the need to stop “insults and questioning” of the kingdom’s positions, stressing that his country would confront “everything that poses a threat to Jordan and the security of Jordanians.”

In previous comments, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that Tehran informed the United States that the attack on Israel would be limited, and within the framework of self-defense.

However, Kanaani said that no agreement had been made in advance with any country on how Tehran would respond militarily to Israel.


Israel Wants to 'Hurt' Iran without Causing All-out War

An Israeli Air Force fighter at an unidentified airport on Sunday (AFP)
An Israeli Air Force fighter at an unidentified airport on Sunday (AFP)
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Israel Wants to 'Hurt' Iran without Causing All-out War

An Israeli Air Force fighter at an unidentified airport on Sunday (AFP)
An Israeli Air Force fighter at an unidentified airport on Sunday (AFP)

The Israeli war cabinet decided to respond to Iran “without causing an all-out war,” after Benjamin Netanyahu’s government discussed “a wide range of options,” developed by Israeli army commanders, to strike in retaliation for the Iranian missile attack on Saturday.

Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Herzi Halevi said on Monday that Israel would respond to the attack. Speaking from the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, which suffered some damage in the attack, he added: “This launching of many missiles, cruise missiles and drones on Israeli territory will be met with a response.”

The Israeli Channel 12 reported that the war cabinet discussed a set of options at its meeting, Monday, with the aim of harming Iran after its attack with drones and missiles on Israel, but without causing a comprehensive war.

In a report, the channel said that Israel’s intention was to initiate action in coordination with the United States, which said would not participate with Israel in any direct attack on Iran.

Early on Tuesday, Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner told reporters that military officials had presented the government with a range of options for responding to the Iranian strike on Israel.

He added that Israel’s response may or may not involve a military strike, pointing to many different scenarios between these two options, according to the American ABC News network.

Israel remains on high alert, but the authorities have canceled some emergency measures, including bans on some school activities and restrictions on large gatherings.

Two Israeli sources told CNN on Monday that the war cabinet was studying military options to respond to the Iranian attack, including targeting an Iranian facility while avoiding casualties. In addition to the possible military response, the Israeli war cabinet is also studying diplomatic options to increase Iran’s isolation on the global stage, according to CNN.

The two sources, who were not named by the news network, reported that Israel was about to take its first steps towards launching a ground attack on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip this week, but postponed those plans while it was considering a response to the recent Iranian strike.

Meanwhile, the Russian Interfax agency reported that Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian National Security Council, discussed the escalating tensions in the Middle East with the head of the Israeli National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi.

The agency quoted the Russian Security Council as saying that Patrushev indicated the need for all parties to exercise restraint to prevent escalation of the conflict. The Kremlin said earlier, on Monday, that it was deeply concerned about the escalation of tensions in the Middle East following the attack launched by Iran with missiles and drones on Israel.


France Calls on Israel to Avoid Escalation after Iran Attack

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron
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France Calls on Israel to Avoid Escalation after Iran Attack

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron

France is exerting efforts to avoid further escalation in the Middle East after Iran launched a barrage of missiles and drones on Israel.

On Monday, the European country has engaged, at the highest levels, in a call for de-escalation, urging Israel to abandon a military attack against Iran, and to respond using other means.

“We will do all we can to avoid things flaring up, escalating,” French President Emmanuel Macron told BFM TV in an interview that was mainly devoted to discuss the Olympic Games that his country is hosting next summer.

Macron said Iran’s attack on Israel was a “disproportionate response” to the bombing of its consulate in the Syrian capital, which killed high ranking Revolutionary Guards officers.

“Instead of touching Israeli interests outside of Israel, they went looking for Israel on its soil from their own soil, which is a first,” he said.

Firing a barrage of missiles and drones on Israel was an “unprecedented, very dangerous” act in the volatile Middle East, Macron said of Saturday’s attacks.

Macron also said he will speak Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The French President is worried about the “risk of a major regional confrontation” and therefore, he is looking for solutions allowing Israel to respond by means other than launching military attacks within Iranian territory.

Macron is hoping to convince Israel not to respond by escalating, but rather by isolating Iran, and to succeed in convincing the countries of the region that Iran is a threat.

In this regard, he underlined “Israel's victory” saying the Israelis managed to the quasi-totality of these missiles and drones. “Only seven hit their soil, with one person injured,” Macron said.

The French president called to “increase sanctions” against Tehran and “strengthen pressure on nuclear activities” in order to find a path to peace in the region.

Macron said France tries to be a mediator power and a power of balance between all countries, affirming the US important role to contain Iran.

Meanwhile, the French President affirmed that French jets intercepted “what they should” during Iran's attack against Israel.

“For years now, we have a military base in Jordan to fight against terrorism,” he said. “Jordan's airspace was violated by those shots, our jets took off and we have intercepted what we should intercept.”

Macron’s statements made no reference to Israel.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said he had asked the Foreign Ministry to summon the Iranian ambassador on Monday to express a “message of firmness.”


UK, Canada Impose Sanctions on Sudan’s Warring Parties

 Army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo
Army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo
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UK, Canada Impose Sanctions on Sudan’s Warring Parties

 Army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo
Army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo

Britain on Monday imposed sanctions against businesses which support activity of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Reuters reported.

Also, the Canadian Foreign Ministry announced that Canada is introducing new sanctions measures under the Special Economic Measures Act in response to this ongoing conflict in Sudan.

It said those sanctioned are associated with the SAF or RSF.

The new batch of sanctions came while at least six civilians were killed and tens others injured in clashes between the SAF and the RSF in El Fasher, the capital city of North Darfur State.

The State had been a site of comparative stability and a key humanitarian refuge before violence broke out there too on Sunday.

The clashes came as France was preparing an international humanitarian conference for war-battered Sudan and its neighbors on Monday.

The Sudan doctors’ union said late on Sunday that El-Fasher hospital had reported “six deaths and 61 injuries ... following clashes” in the city.

Earlier, the local resistance committee, part of a nationwide pro-democracy organisation marshalling aid across Sudan, said the number of deaths had reached nine.

The RSF of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo managed to take control of four of Darfur's five states, except for El Fasher. The city is controlled by rebel armed groups, which pledged to maintain a neutral position, and therefore, had managed, until Sunday, to avoid engaging in the fighting.

Last week, the Joint Force of Armed Struggle Movements (JSAMF), a coalition comprising various armed groups from Sudan's Darfur region, has formally renounced neutrality and declared war on the RSF.

“The Joint Force of Armed Struggle declares that there is no neutrality anymore and it will fight alongside its allies, nationalists, and the Armed Forces against the RSF militia and their mercenary allies,” the groups said in a statement.


China's Top Diplomat Wang Holds Call With Iranian Counterpart

This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping welcoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) during his visit in Beijing on February 14, 2023. (Iranian Presidency / AFP)
This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping welcoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) during his visit in Beijing on February 14, 2023. (Iranian Presidency / AFP)
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China's Top Diplomat Wang Holds Call With Iranian Counterpart

This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping welcoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) during his visit in Beijing on February 14, 2023. (Iranian Presidency / AFP)
This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping welcoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (L) during his visit in Beijing on February 14, 2023. (Iranian Presidency / AFP)

China's foreign minister held phone discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Beijing state media said Tuesday, reporting that Iran said it was "willing to exercise restraint" after its first-ever attack on Israel's territory.

Israel has vowed to respond to the unprecedented Iranian missile and drone strikes over the weekend, which have prompted appeals for de-escalation by world leaders fearing wider conflict.

The United States has repeatedly made public appeals for China to use its influence over Tehran to manage tensions in the region, which are currently turbocharged over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

During the call, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian briefed Wang Yi on the April 1 attack on a consular annex of the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus, which Tehran says prompted its aerial assault, Beijing's state news agency Xinhua said.

Amir-Abdollahian told Wang that the United Nations Security Council "did not make a necessary response to this attack" and that "Iran has the right to self-defence in response to the violation of its sovereignty", according to a readout, reported by AFP.

Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was "willing to exercise restraint" and had no intention of further escalating tensions, adding the current regional situation was "very sensitive".

Wang said China "strongly condemns and firmly opposes the attack" on the Iranian consular annex, Xinhua reported, and regards it as a "serious violation of international law and unacceptable".

The readout said China noted Iran's statement that, in response, it had taken limited action in "self-defence".

"China appreciates Iran's stress on not targeting regional and neighbouring countries as well as its reiteration on continuously pursuing a good-neighbourly and friendly policy," Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.

"It is believed that Iran can handle the situation well and spare the region further turmoil while safeguarding its own sovereignty and dignity."

Tehran's foreign ministry readout said Amir-Abdollahian briefed Wang on Iran's "legitimate action" and "warned the White House" that further attacks on Iran's interests or security would invite a "decisive, immediate and extensive" response.

The foreign ministers discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict in the call, with Wang calling the current situation a "spillover effect of the escalating conflict in Gaza", according to Xinhua.

China, historically sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, has been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7.

"China is willing to maintain communication with the Iranian side and jointly push for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue," Wang said according to Xinhua.

Wang also held talks with his Saudi counterpart on Monday, the news agency said.

The two foreign ministers agreed to work together to avoid further escalation in the Middle East, it said.