|Saturday, 29 January 2022|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-07-16
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 SI unveils 5-point proposal to defuse Mideast crisisA five-point proposal for defusing the crisis in the Middle East was unveiled on Sunday by the Socialist International (SI), whose presidium was meeting over the weekend on the island of Samos, chaired by SI president and Greece's main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, who described the situation in the Middle East as "explosive", warning that the margins for containing the conflagration from spreading were "narrowing dangerously".
The SI proposal to the international community and the sides involved in the Middle East, was unveiled to the press by Papandreou, who stressed that SI was simultaneously undertaking initiatives for contacts and discussions "at a time when the international community is not showing any willingness to deal seriously with the issue".
He added that the volition that should have existed did not exist among the G8 countries, which, he warned, was a "bad omen".
"If there was volition in the G8, we could have been speaking of steps in the direction of peace. This inertia of the international community obliges other bodies, such as Socialist International, to undertake initiatives," Papandreou said.
The SI proposal to the international community as well as all the sides involved in the Middle East includes:
In tandem, SI undertakes initiatives, on the part of its president and other SI officials, for advancement of the peace process, and with the aim of convicing that military solutions do not exist for the region, but only political solutions. Characteristically, Papandreou said that SI advocated preemptive politics rather as opposed to preemptive war, Papandreou said.
In the framework of its initiatives, SI will first of all send a delegation to the Middle East as soon as possible. Second, in cooperation with the Arab League, there will be a further exchange of proposals and views. Third, there will be constant contact with all the sides involved as well as the international community. Fourth, SI will mobilise all its member parties, whether in government or in the opposition, which it will urge to mobise the citizens for the advancement of peace. Fifth, a regional SI conference will be organised in Cairo, by mid-September, aimed at formulating a framework solution and preparing a second regional conference, this time with the participation of the countries involved, for the advancement of a peaceful solution, the SI president continued.
Papandreou stressed that the situation in the Middle East was "explosive", warning that the margins for avoiding a more generalised conflagration were "narrowing dangerously", and appealed for an end to military operations and the "vicious cycle of violence and blood", pledging that the Socialist International, on its part, would do everything possible in that direction.
 Iranian FM calls for settlement through diplomacy, negotiationsVisiting Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Motaki on Sunday called for the settlement of the issue of Iran's nuclear programme through diplomatic means and negotiations, so as to satisfy all sides, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA on the island of Samos, where he attended a meeting of the Socialist International (SI) presidium at the invitation of SI president and leader of Greece's main opposition PASOK party, George Papandreou.
Motaki also described as "dangerous" the situation in the Middle East, laying blame on Israel for the crisis, while he also referred to relations between the Arab world and Greece, as well as the Cyprus issue.
Questioned on the stance his government intended to take on the six-nation package of proposals (submitted by China, France, Germany, Russia, the US and the UK), the Iranian foreign minister said that examination of the proposals had commenced, adding:
"We are examining them seriously and carefully. We have stated that upon completion of the examination of the content, we shall state our reply. We hope that the existing positive climate will be preserved, on the basis of solution of the problem through diplomatic means and negotiations, so that, in a good climate, we can reach a solution that will benefit all the sides. A result that on the one hand will recognise Iran's legal right to the development of nuclear technology, while on the other hand will help overcome the others' concerns over the prospect of diversion from the programme to the construction of arms of mass destruction".
Motaki once again rejected accusations that his country was behind the recent actions by Hezbollah, and accused Israel of "attempting, in recent years but especially in the last few weeks and days, by accusing others, to cover up its own criminal actions against the Palestinian and Lebanese people, so as to disorient the international public opinion".
The Iranian foreign minister said that he, personally, did not consider an Israeli attack on Syria likely.
Replying to a relevant question, he said:
"A basic factor of the threats and the destabilisation in the region is the Zionist regime. It has shown that if the groundwork and appropriate climate exists, it can take hostile actions. The violations of Syrian airspace in recent days indicate that the tension in the region is escalating. A prospective attack by the Zionist regime against Syria would render the entire region a war zone. We do not, however, believe that they have the margins to proceed to such an action. The Zionist regime's criminal actions in Gaza have created a new climate, a new Intifada, in the Palestinian territories. It has rallied even more closely the different groups of Palestinians, and precisely the same is happening in Lebanon as well. Certain Lebanese leaders, who in the past have had some disagreements, now, after the attacks, have united and rallied together. Contrary to what the Zionist regime expected, it does not have the international support it desired. Certain European countries have exercised criticism and are calling for an immediate halt of the attacks. The Lebanese have a resistnce force. And, practically, it does not appear that the Zionist regime is prepared to assume such a risk. A prospective attack against Syria will rally the Arab and Muslim world even closer together against the Zionist regime".
Asked to comment on Greece's stance regarding the current crisis, Motaki said that "the Arabn countries have very good relations with Greece, which has enabled Greece to have a realistic confrontation of the issues concerning the Middle East", after underlining that Greece was the closest EU member state to the Middle East and maintains historic and traditional relations with the region, and also noting that a Greek Orthodox church has existed in Teheran since 1936.
"For that reason, I expressed Iran's preparedness and volition for an exchange of views aimed at de-escalation of the tension also during my meeting with the Greek prime minister (Costas Karamanlis). However, the Zionist regime today is following a policy of escalation," Motaki continued.
Questioned on Iran's position on the Cyprus issue and Turkey's repeated efforts for recognition of the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island republic -- recognsed only by Turkey -- by the Islamic Conference, the Iranian foreign minister said that the cyprus issue "must be solved through negotiations, and in a peaceful climate".
"In such a climate, we support and encourage the intiatives of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for re-opening of the negotiations," Motaki said, adding that "the appropriate steps must be taken so as to consolidate security and stability in the region".
"The Islamic Conference has not, to date, taken initiatives for a resolution of the Cyprus issue, but I believe that it will be prepared to do so if asked".
 Second air-lift of Greeks, other nationals arrives in AthensA second Olympic Airlines (OA) special flight carrying Greeks and nationals of other countries fleeing the violence in strife-torn Lebanon arrived at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport from Damascus in the early afternoon on Sunday.
The OA Boeing-737, chartered by the Greek foreign ministry, arrived in Athens at 14:00, carrying 64 Greek nationals and 26 citizens of other countries.
The flight left Damascus at 11:00 a.m., and in less than an hour landed at Larnaca airport where it disembarked 46 Cypriot citizens who had sought assistance from the Greek embassy in Beirut to leave the war zone, before continuing to Athens.
The first special OA flight chartered by the foreign ministry brought another 90-odd people from Damascus to Athens on Saturday.
The passengers on board Saturday's OA special flight 3148, which touched down at Eleftherios Venizelos airport at 14:00, had travelled by road to Damascus from Beirut and other areas of Lebanon, where an Israeli offensive was continuing at unreduced intensity.
Special Olympic Airlines (OA) flight 3148 took off from Athens for Damascus in the early hours of Saturday, where it was due to pick up some 90 passengers, including Greek foreign ministry staff. As well as Greeks, it also carried several citizens of third countries that had requested the assistance of the Greek Embassy in Beirut in order to get out of besieged Lebanon. These included at least 20 Cypriots, eight French nationals, two Britons, one U.S. citizen, a Czech, an Italian and five people with dual nationality.
The airplane took off from Damascus shortly after 11:00 on Saturday morning headed for Larnaca airport on Cyprus, where it let off 22 of the people on board, before continuing the journey to Athens.
Deputy foreign minister Theodoros Kassimis, speaking to reporters on Saturday, said the 136-person group was led by a Lebanese police vehicle via a safe route to the Lebanon-Syria border, where they were picked up by Greek diplomats and led to Damascus airport.
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