Chuck Hagel will replace Leon Panetta as the new Defense Secretary. He got 58 votes for and 41 against at the Senate, RIA Novosti reports.US President Barack Obama introduced Hagel in early January. He is a 66-year-old veteran of the Vietnam War. He had been working at the Georgetown University prior to his appointment.The Senate Committee on Armed Forces approved Hagel had approved Hagel as a candidate for the office on February 13. Senators demanded him to clarify his position on the Middle East and the Hamas-Iran dialogue.
Iranian Fars news agency photoshopped pictures of Michelle Obama's dress at the Oscars as being too revealing for Iranian audience
Michael Mann, spokesman of EU Chief Diplomat Catherine Ashton, said that sanctions against Iran could be reconsidered depending on Tehran’s attitude to the meeting with six mediators in Alma Ata today, ITAR-TASS reports.He did not rule out opportunities for bilateral talks of Iran and the US.According to the official, the plenary session started at 1.30 pm and will continue until 4.30 pm.The spokesman said that Iran had had a bilateral meeting with China and consultations with EU, France and Germany in the morning, RIA Novosti reports.
Azerbaijan is marking the 21st anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre of February 26, 1992, when 613 people were killed and over a thousand became handicapped. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev laid flowers to the memorial of victims of the tragedy at the Khatai District of Baku this morning. He was accompanied by Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, Speaker of Parliament Oktay Asadov, head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mekhtiyev, his wife and President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has congratulated Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on re-election and expressed readiness to support Armenia in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Russia, France, Germany and the EU have had consultations for the upcoming meeting of Iran and six mediators of the nuclear talks in Alma Ata today, RIA Novosti cites EU Chief Diplomat Catherine Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann.The talks will start at about 1.00 pm.Russia, US, EU, China, France and Germany will discuss the nuclear program with Tehran.
Iranian Minister for Culture Mohammad Hussein has called Oscar winner Ben Affleck’s “Argo” anti-Iranian and said that the award proved that the Hollywood had been obeying US politics.“Argo” is a film about US diplomats taken hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Michelle Obama handed the award to Affleck personally.
French actor Gerard Depardieu has arrived from Saransk to Grozny, the Chechen capital, for the “Father’s Heart” film (US, UK, France, Russia), Yuga reports.Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov met the actor at the airport. Depardieu tried Chechen national meals and had dances during the festive dinner.
Iranian MPs have signed a declaration demanding special attention to uranium enrichment of Iran, Trend reports.The MPs demand attendants of the 5+1 talks on the problem in Kazakhstan to protect the right of Iranians according to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They urged Russia and China to oppose US decisions.The talks will be held in Kazakhstan on February 26.The first round of the 5+1 talks was held in Geneva in December 2010, the second and third in Istanbul in January 2011 and April 2012.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have brought down a foreign reconnaissance drone during a military exercise in southeast Iran, the official news agency IRNA reports.“A foreign spy drone was hacked outside the field of Payambar-e Azam 8 wargames on Saturday,” spokesman for the military exercise, General Hamid Sarkheili was quoted by the agency as saying.The agency gives no details of the origin of the drone.
The Russian toddler adopted in the United States whose brother died in Texas under unclear circumstances would not be sent back to Russia, Texan authorities said, CBS News reports.The boy’s mother, Yulia Kuzmina, 23, asked on Thursday to have her surviving son Kirill back. But a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said that was out of the question.
On Tuesday in Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, the incumbent, was reelected. The campaign was well-administered and important measures of transparency have been implemented, the observers said, adding however there was an unclear distinction between the campaign activities of the incumbent and state structures. The limited field of candidates meant that the election was not genuinely competitive, says in interview to the VK Alexandr Skakov, leading expert of the Center of Caucasus and Central Asia studies.
The US Congress plans to cut Iran off from the Target2 trans-border payment system of the European Central Bank, Reuters reports.The bill is believed to include sanctions against individuals and legal bodies having business relations with Iran using the euro.US sanctions had stopped Iran using the dollar currency. President of the Iranian Central Bank Mahmoud Bahmani said that the country offered to use oil and gold as payments.The US had already cut Iran off from the SWIFT payment system of Belgium.
Spokeswoman of the US State Department Victoria Nuland emphasized that installation of new centrifuges for uranium enrichment in Natanz (Iran) was not surprising and had been mentioned by the IAEA earlier, ITAR-TASS reports.Nuland said that the initiative will provoke new tensions around the nuclear program and become a new violation of resolutions of the UNSC.Five permanent members of the UNSC and Germany will have a new round of talks with Iran in Kazakhstan on February 26.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey have signed a deal. The UAE will buy weapons, including CIRIT missiles, worth $200 million in Turkey, Sabah cites Turkish Minister for Defense Industry Murat Bayar.Turkish exports of weapons increased by 35.7% in 2012 to $1.2 billion.The main purchasers are the US with purchases of components for helicopters for $490 million, UAE with purchases worth $101 million and Saudi Arabia $99 million.