World Press on Iran, Turkey and the Caucasus (November 1, 2011)

The Washington Post reported that Iran has formally complained to the U.S. over claims the Iranian government was involved in an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, a U.S. official said Sunday. The official said the U.S. received a diplomatic note on Friday expressing displeasure at the charges that were leveled earlier this month. Iran has already denied the allegations. The official said the note was delivered through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran, since the two countries don’t have diplomatic relations. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private diplomatic exchange.

The Turkish information agency Hurriyet published an article headlined “Turkey fears pro-Assad leak at Hatay camp.” It says that people linked to the Syrian administration may be living in camps that house Syrian refugees in Turkey’s southern Hatay province, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official has said. Since the shelter camps were not officially “refugee camps,” Syrians sheltered in the camps could travel to Syria and return to Turkey any time they wanted, the official said, so monitoring incoming and outgoing Syrians presented difficulties. The Foreign Ministry official rejected claims published in The New York Times on Oct. 27 in a story titled “In Slap at Syria, Turkey Shelters Anti-Assad Fighters” that said Turkey was harboring the leaders of the Free Syrian Army, a militia composed of defectors from the Syrian armed forces who claimed responsibility for killing nine Syrian soldiers in an attack in restive central Syria.

Another article published by the same agency is subheaded “Iran traced citizens with Western help: report.” It says that the Iranian authorities routinely use surveillance to round-up and interrogate political activists, according to accounts provided by victims and human rights groups. The suppliers of this equipment are complicit in the human rights abuses Iran has been repeatedly condemned for, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk said. “The CEOs of these companies have no ability to look themselves in the mirror,” said Kirk, an Illinois Republican, who is sponsoring legislation to tighten sanctions against the selling of communications products that Iran could use for repression.

The Iranian information agency Press TV reported that Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has confirmed a plan to participate in the upcoming international conference on Afghanistan in Turkey. Salehi announced his decision to attend the international conference on Afghanistan, which is due to take place in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Wednesday. He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may also attend the conference. Turkey is hosting a conference this week on creating a regional strategy for improving security and economic development in Afghanistan, ahead of a planned withdrawal of US-led forces from the war-torn country by the end of 2014.

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