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Iran, US on verge of prisoner swap below Qatar-mediated deal



DUBAI/DOHA: When $6 billion of unfrozen Iranian funds are wired to banks in Qatar as early as subsequent week, it can set off a fastidiously choreographed sequence that may see as many as 5 detained US twin nationals go away Iran and the same variety of Iranian prisoners held within the US fly dwelling, in line with eight Iranian and different sources aware of the negotiations who spoke to Reuters.

As a primary step, Iran on Aug. 10 launched 4 US residents from Tehran’s Evin jail into home arrest, the place they joined a fifth, who was already below home arrest. Later that day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken known as the transfer step one of a course of that might result in their return dwelling.

They embody businessmen Siamak Namazi, 51, and Emad Sharqi, 59, in addition to environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who additionally holds British nationality, the US administration has stated. The Tahbaz and Shargi households didn’t reply to requests for remark. A lawyer for the Namazi household declined to remark.

The identities of the fourth and fifth Individuals, one in all whom in line with two sources is a girl, haven’t been disclosed. Reuters couldn’t set up which Iranian prisoners, in flip, could be swapped by the US

Iran stated on Monday it was optimistic the prisoner swap with Washington would occur “within the close to future”.

On the centre of the negotiations that cast this deal between the superpower which Iran manufacturers the “Nice Devil” and the Islamic Republic which Washington calls a state sponsor of terrorism is the tiny however massively wealthy state of Qatar.

Doha hosted a minimum of eight rounds of talks involving Iranian and US negotiators sitting in separate inns talking through shuttle diplomacy, a supply briefed on the discussions stated, with the sooner periods centered primarily on the thorny nuclear problem and the later ones on the prisoner releases.

Doha will implement a monetary association below which it can pay banking charges and monitor how Iran spends the unfrozen money to make sure no cash is spent on objects below US sanctions, and the prisoners will transit Qatar when they’re swapped, in line with three of the sources.

“Iran initially needed direct entry to the funds however ultimately agreed to having entry through Qatar,” stated a senior diplomat. “Iran will buy meals and medication and Qatar can pay instantly.”

Reuters pieced collectively this account of beforehand unreported particulars in regards to the extent of Qatari mediation of the key talks, how the deal unfolded and the expediency that motivated each events to clinch the prisoner swap deal. Reuters interviewed 4 Iranian officers, two US sources, a senior Western diplomat, a Gulf authorities adviser and the particular person aware of the negotiations.

All the sources requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of a deal which hasn’t been absolutely carried out.

A State Division spokesperson stated the US was not able to announce the precise timing of the prisoner launch. The Division additionally declined to debate the small print of what the spokesperson termed “an ongoing and extremely delicate negotiation.”

You’ll be able to construct belief

The US administration has not commented on the timing of the funds switch. Nonetheless, on Sept 5, South Korean international minister Park Jin stated efforts had been below method to switch Iran’s funds.

“The US-Iran relationship shouldn’t be one characterised by belief. We choose Iran by its actions, nothing else,” the State Division spokesperson added.

Washington consented to the motion of Iranian funds from South Korea to restricted accounts held by monetary establishments in Qatar, however no cash goes to Iran instantly, the spokesperson added.

Qatar’s Ministry of Overseas Affairs didn’t reply to Reuters‘ request for touch upon the small print of negotiations, Qatar’s function within the talks or the phrases of the ultimate settlement.

Nasser Kanaani, Iran’s international ministry spokesperson, stated when requested about this story in a televised information convention that Tehran would free the Individuals on “humanitarian grounds”.


The sources’ account of the negotiation exhibits how the deal sidestepped the principle US-Iran dispute over Iran’s nuclear goals, culminating in a uncommon second of cooperation between the long-time adversaries, at odds on a bunch of points from Iran’s nuclear program to the US army presence within the Gulf.

Ties between the US and Iran have been at boiling level since Donald Trump stop a nuclear cope with Iran as US president in 2018. Reaching one other nuclear deal has gained little traction since then, as President Joe Biden prepares for the 2024 US election.

The State Division spokesperson additionally stated there had been no change in Washington’s general method to Iran, “which continues to be centered on deterrence, strain and diplomacy.”

As soon as the funds are transferred, they are going to be held in restricted accounts in Qatar, and the US may have oversight as to how and when these funds are used, the State Division spokesperson added.

The potential switch has drawn Republican criticism that Biden, a Democrat, is in impact paying ransom for US residents. However Blinken advised reporters on Aug 10 the deal doesn’t imply that Iran could be getting any sanctions reduction, explaining that Washington would proceed to push again “resolutely towards Iran’s destabilising actions within the area”.

The Qatari-led mediation gained momentum in June 2023, stated the supply briefed on the discussions, including a minimum of eight rounds of talks had been held since March 2022, with earlier rounds devoted primarily to the nuclear problem and later ones to prisoners.

“All of them realised that nuclear (negotiation) is a useless finish and shifted focus to prisoners. Prisoners is extra easy. It’s simple to get and you may construct belief,” he stated. “That is when issues bought critical once more.”

Prisoners anticipated to transit Qatar

The Iranian, diplomatic and regional sources stated that when the cash reaches Qatar from South Korea through Switzerland, Qatari officers will instruct Tehran and Washington to proceed with the releases below the phrases of a doc signed by each side and Qatar in late July or early August. Reuters has not seen the doc.

The switch to banks in Qatar is anticipated to conclude as early as subsequent week if all goes to plan, the supply briefed on the talks stated. Reuters was unable to determine the banks concerned.

“American prisoners will fly to Qatar from Tehran and Iranian prisoners will fly from the US to Qatar, after which be transferred to Iran,” the supply briefed on the talks advised Reuters.

In response to two Iranian insiders, the supply briefed on the negotiations and the senior Western diplomat, the talks’ most advanced half was arranging a mechanism to make sure transparency within the cash switch and respect for US sanctions. The $6 billion in Iranian property – the proceeds of oil gross sales – had been frozen below sweeping US oil and monetary sanctions towards Iran. Then president Trump in 2018 reimposed the sanctions when he pulled Washington out of a deal below which Iran had restricted its nuclear program.

Points mentioned included how to make sure Iran solely spent the cash on humanitarian items and securing ensures from Qatar on its monitoring of the method.

“To salvage the negotiations from collapse, Qatar pledged to cowl the banking charges for the funds’ switch from Seoul to Switzerland, and subsequently to Qatari banks, whereas additionally taking over the duty of expense oversight,” an Iranian insider briefed in regards to the talks advised Reuters.

The central financial institution governors of Iran and Qatar met in Doha on June 14 to debate the funds switch, a second Iranian insider and the supply briefed on the talks stated.

The Central Financial institution of Iran and the Qatar central financial institution declined to remark.

The talks had been led by US Particular Envoy for Iran Robert Malley — now on unpaid go away as a result of his safety clearance is below evaluation — and by US Deputy Particular Envoy Abram Paley and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, stated one Iranian official, two sources briefed on the negotiations and the Western diplomat.

Mehdi Safari, Iran’s deputy international minister for financial affairs, joined the Iranian delegation at two conferences in Qatar for talks on the funds switch, one senior Iranian diplomat advised Reuters. Qatari Minister of State on the Overseas Ministry Mohammed Al-Khulaifi was the go-between mediator.

Malley declined to remark. Paley, Kani and Al Khulaifi couldn’t be reached instantly for remark.

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Enormous explosion at Tashkent airport causes tremors felt over 30 km away



An enormous explosion has rocked Tashkent, the capital metropolis of Uzbekistan within the early hours of Thursday.

The blast, which occurred close to the airport, has been reported to have originated from a customs storage facility in Tashkent.

Though the specifics surrounding the explosion stay restricted, it has raised widespread concern and quick motion. The affect of the explosion was highly effective sufficient to be felt over a major distance.

Early on Thursday, the Uzbek information web site Daryo reported a robust explosion in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, citing info from the Ministry of Emergency Conditions. The explosion is suspected to have occurred at a warehouse positioned in a district close to the airport.

Whereas flight operations at Tashkent Worldwide Airport seemed to be functioning usually, with flights taking off and touchdown, there was a closure discover for a runway throughout particular hours. The rationale for this closure was not initially offered.

In accordance with reviews from Nova24, witnesses have described the explosion going down at a customs warehouse close to the airport. Movies circulating on social media depict a column of flames and smoke rising into the evening sky, including to the urgency of the state of affairs.

Emergency response groups are on-site, working diligently to include the fireplace ensuing from the explosion. At this level, particulars concerning accidents and casualties are but to be confirmed.

Authorities are actively investigating the incident, and additional updates will likely be offered as extra info involves gentle.

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India imposes curfew in strife-hit areas of Manipur state



India imposed a curfew within the capital and a few areas of its restive state of Manipur on Thursday, after scores of scholars have been injured in violence following protests towards the alleged abduction and homicide of two college students, authorities mentioned.

Ethnic violence has plunged the northeastern state bordering Myanmar into what many safety consultants describe as an intense civil battle fought over land, jobs and political clout between its two largest native teams.

“Indefinite curfew needed to be carried out in Imphal and in another districts,” L. Kailun, a senior police official primarily based within the state capital, informed Reuters.

Greater than 80 college students have been injured in Wednesday’s clashes, one other police official mentioned on situation of anonymity.

He added that the state of affairs was “extraordinarily tense” after armed mobs vandalised an workplace of the ruling political social gathering and hurled petrol bombs at two police websites.

Cell web companies have been suspended within the state for 5 days, officers mentioned.

Because the violence first erupted on Could 3, greater than 180 individuals have been killed and over 50,000 have fled their properties in Manipur.

Greater than half the state’s inhabitants of three.2 million belongs to the Meitei group, whereas the Kuki group, who make up about 43 per cent, stay largely within the hills.

Protests re-ignited over the alleged kidnapping and killing of two college students of the Meitei group who had gone lacking in July after their our bodies have been discovered this week. The information went viral, reviving the ethnic pressure.

The state’s chief minister, N. Biren Singh, who’s a frontrunner of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s social gathering, denounced the alleged homicide and vowed most punishment for the culprits.



Members of the scholars’ households and Meitei leaders have accused Kuki militants of the newest killing, and criticised authorities for failing to finish the violence.

A spokesperson for a Kuki civil society group mentioned it didn’t have a direct touch upon the newest killings.

Leaders of the opposition Congress social gathering have accused the Modi authorities of failing to regulate the violence in a state ruled by his nationalist social gathering.

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Canada warned Nijjar’s affiliate of demise threats from India, inside days of assassination



VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Just a few days after pro-Khalistan chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s assassination in Canada’s largest Gurdwara in Surrey British Columbia, one other Sikh chief from the identical Gurdwara was warned in writing “Obligation To Warn” by the Canadian police and the intelligence service of the approaching risk to his life by the hands of Indian state brokers.

In response to proof obtainable, Gurmeet Singh Toor, an in depth affiliate of Nijjar and a senior member of the administration committee of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, was issued a “Obligation To Warn” letter by the Canadian legislation enforcement on August 24, 2023, throughout an pressing go to at his residence by the Canadian intelligence and the police that his life was in critical hazard by the hands of Indian brokers roaming in Canada on behalf of the Indian state.

An knowledgeable of the warning letter to Toor by the Canadian police stated: “The police have decided by means of a number of investigative avenues that your life could also be in peril. At the moment, we’re unable to offer you particular particulars of the risk.”

Toor had began actively campaigning with Sikh For Justice (SFJ) for Khalistan Referendum voting in BC after Nijjar’s assassination by the hands of Indian brokers on June 18, 2023.

Nijjar was head of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and Chief Coordinator of the Khalistan Referendum marketing campaign in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has instantly accused the Indian govt of being behind Nijjar’s homicide, via Indian brokers managed and operated by Indian diplomats stationed at India’s consulates in Vancouver and Toronto.

In a press release, Canadian nationwide Gurmeet Singh Toor stated that India needs to kill him as a result of like Nijjar, he’s engaged in campaigning for the Khalistan Referendum and after Shaheed Nijjar’s assassination by the hands of gunmen employed by Indian businesses, and “I proceed marketing campaign for the Khalistan Referendum and notably for September 10, 2023 voting occasion in Surrey”.

He revealed: “On August 25, 2023, round 11:20 pm whereas I used to be sleeping at my residence, two Canadian officers belonging to Surrey Police and Built-in Nationwide Safety Enforcement Crew (INSET) respectively, knocked at my door and served the hooked up “Obligation To Warn” discover. I used to be informed by the officers that the truth that they’ve come to me at this hour of the night time ought to be taken as a sign that the matter (risk) is absolutely critical. I used to be instructed by the officers to be vigilant and cautious.”

In a September 27 communique to PM Justin Trudeau, SFJ demanded rapid expulsion of India’s Excessive Commissioner in Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma on grounds that there’s mounting proof that the “brokers of the Indian authorities” had been concerned within the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, 2023[1]; continued risk to the Khalistan Referendum campaigners in Canada by the hands of Indian brokers.

SFJ’s letter highlighting the risk to Toor and campaigners of Khalistan Referendum in Canada can also be addressed to leaders of the Conservative Social gathering, Bloc Quebecois, NDP, and Inexperienced Social gathering urging them to “to boost above the partisanship on this nationwide difficulty which pertains to the core of existence shared by all Canadians – defending of our nation’s sovereignty from any international aggression and securing the life and liberty of all Canadians towards any international invasion and threats”.

SFJ’s letter to the Canadian PM stated: “Mr. Prime Minister, the file in your workplace ought to replicate that in Could 2016, when Shaheed Nijjar was falsely accused by India of working a “terror camp” in Mission, BC, Nijjar wrote you a letter wherein he unequivocally said that ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I need to carry it to your consideration that the Indian authorities’s marketing campaign to label me a terrorist began after I actively participated in a marketing campaign to gather signatures on a criticism to the United Nations Human Rights Council. I’m a Sikh nationalist who believes in and helps Sikhs’ proper to self- dedication and independence of Indian-occupied Punjab via a future referendum.”

Following Nijjar’s homicide, we publicly raised alarm about our perception that the Indian authorities was concerned in, and chargeable for, his killing. Lastly, on September 18, 2023, Prime Minister Trudeau publicly on the ground of the Home stated what had lengthy been identified by the Sikh group – that the Indian authorities was behind the assassination of Shaheed Nijjar.

The SFJ letter stated: “We agree with the Prime Minister’s assertion within the Home of Commons that ‘any involvement of a international authorities within the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It’s opposite to the elemental guidelines by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves. Such a flagrant violation of Canadian sovereignty calls for swift and decisive motion on the a part of our authorities. Solely the expulsion of India’s Excessive Commissioner in Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, will adequately convey Canada’s forceful disapprobation of India’s blatant violation of our sovereignty and assault upon the Canadian individuals’s life and liberty.

“Excessive Commissioner Verma, as the top of India’s mission in Canada, should be held accountable for Nijjar’s assassination, which in each sense is an act of state terrorism by India. The assassination of a Canadian citizen by India on Canadian soil is an unprecedented and unconscionable assault on Canada’s sovereignty and on the lives and liberties of all Canadians. Merely expelling a low-level diplomatic agent, as Canada has performed, falls far in need of successfully responding to this violation. Failing to take additional motion sends the message to the remainder of the world that Canada takes such prison exercise calmly. We urge your authorities to reply in the one applicable method by expelling Excessive Commissioner Verma pursuant to applicable diplomatic and consular protocol.”

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in his letter to the PM reminded that Verma has a historical past of Sikh hatred and since taking his place in Canada over a 12 months in the past, he has been mendacity about Sikhs and passing hate-filled remarks towards them.

SFJ letter concludes: “We’re calling on the Canadian authorities to decisively and unequivocally assert its sovereignty and defend the protection and safety of all residents. It should ship the clear message that the involvement of a international authorities within the deliberate and deliberate homicide of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is totally and completely unacceptable. The one motion that may ship that message is instantly expelling Excessive Commissioner Verma.

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