Iran’s President Denies Sending Drones and Other Weapons to Russia 

18 September 2023, US, New York: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) receives President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi ahead of their meeting at the UN headquarters. (Iranian Presidency/dpa)
18 September 2023, US, New York: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) receives President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi ahead of their meeting at the UN headquarters. (Iranian Presidency/dpa)
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Iran’s President Denies Sending Drones and Other Weapons to Russia 

18 September 2023, US, New York: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) receives President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi ahead of their meeting at the UN headquarters. (Iranian Presidency/dpa)
18 September 2023, US, New York: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) receives President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi ahead of their meeting at the UN headquarters. (Iranian Presidency/dpa)

Iran’s president on Monday denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, even as the United States accuses Iran of not only providing the weapons but helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them.

“We are against the war in Ukraine,” President Ebrahim Raisi said as he met with media executives on the sidelines of the world’s premier global conference, the high-level leaders' meeting at the UN General Assembly.

The Iranian leader spoke just hours after five Americans who had been held in Iranian custody arrived in Qatar, freed in a deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to unlock nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.

Known as a hard-liner, Raisi seemingly sought to strike a diplomatic tone. He reiterated offers to mediate the Russia-Ukraine war despite being one of the Kremlin’s strongest backers. And he suggested that the just-concluded deal with the United States that led to the prisoner exchange and assets release could “help build trust” between the longtime foes.

Raisi acknowledged that Iran and Russia have long had strong ties, including defense cooperation. But he denied sending weapons to Moscow since the war began. “If they have a document that Iran gave weapons or drones to the Russians after the war," he said, then they should produce it.

Iranian officials have made a series of contradictory comments about the drones. US and European officials say the sheer number of Iranian drones being used in the war in Ukraine shows that the flow of such weapons has not only continued but intensified after hostilities began.

Despite his remarks about trust, Raisi's tone toward the United States wasn't all conciliatory; he had harsh words at other moments.

Raisi said his country “sought good relations with all neighboring countries” in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We believe that if the Americans stop interfering in the countries of the Gulf and other regions in the world, and mind their own business ... the situation of the countries and their relations will improve,” Raisi said.

As a prosecutor, Raisi took part in the 1988 mass executions that killed some 5,000 dissidents in Iran.

The Iranian leader was dismissive of Western criticism of his country's treatment of women, its nuclear program and its crackdown on dissent, including over protests that began just over a year ago over the death in police custody last year of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s mandatory headscarf law.

He compared the protests in Iran to labor strikes and demonstrations by ethnic minorities in the United States and Western Europe. He noted that many people are killed each year in the US at the hands of police, and criticized the media for not focusing on those deaths as much as the treatment of demonstrators in his country. The deaths of Americans at the hands of police are widely covered in US media.

Raisi has sought, without evidence, to portray the popular nationwide demonstrations in Iran as a Western plot.

“The issue(s) of women, hijab, human rights and the nuclear issue," he said, “are all pretexts by the Americans and Westerners to damage the republic as an independent country.”



Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
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Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve, with the number of people suffering chronic hunger barely changed over the past year, a UN report said on Wednesday.

The annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report said around 733 million people faced hunger in 2023 -- one in 11 people globally and one in five in Africa -- as conflict, climate change and economic crises take their toll.

David Laborde, director of the division within the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which helps prepare the survey, said that although progress had been made in some regions, the situation had deteriorated at a global level.

"We are in a worse situation today than nine years ago when we launched this goal to eradicate hunger by 2030," he told Reuters, saying challenges such as climate change and regional wars had grown more severe than envisaged even a decade ago.

If current trends continue, about 582 million people will be chronically undernourished at the end of the decade, half of them in Africa, the report warned.

A broader objective to ensure regular access to adequate food has also stalled over the past three years, with 29% of the global population, or 2.33 billion people, experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in 2023.

Underscoring stark inequalities, some 71.5% of people in low-income countries could not afford a healthy diet last year, against 6.3% in high-income countries.

While famines are easy to spot, poor nutrition is more insidious but can nonetheless scar people for life, stunting both the physical and mental development of babies and children, and leaving adults more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Laborde said international aid linked to food security and nutrition amounted to $76 billion a year, or 0.07% of the world's total annual economic output.

"I think we can do better to deliver this promise about living on a planet where no one is hungry," he said.

Regional trends varied significantly, with hunger continuing to rise in Africa, where growing populations, myriad wars and climate upheaval weighed heavily. By contrast, Asia has seen little change and Latin America has improved.

"South America has very developed social protection programs that allows them to target interventions so they can effectively move out of hunger in a very fast way," said FAO's chief economist Maximo Torero.

"In the case of Africa, we have not observed that."

The United Nations said the way the anti-hunger drive was financed had to change, with greater flexibility needed to ensure the countries most in need got help.

"We need to change how we do things to be better coordinated, to accept that not everyone should try to do everything but really be much more focused on what we are doing and where," said Laborde.

The report is compiled by the Rome-based FAO, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development, its Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization and World Food Program.