Iran’s Rouhani seeks deals with new friend Russia | Reuters

12 mins ago   

By Olesya Astakhova | MOSCOW MOSCOW Iran’s president met Russia’s prime minister on Monday in a bid to develop a warming relationship that has been greatly strengthened by both sides’ involvement on the same side of the war in Syria.Beginning a visit to Moscow, President Hassan Rouhani told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: “I hope that a new turning-point in the development of our relations will be reached.”Iranian arms purchases and Russian investment in the Iranian energy sector are likely talking points for Rouhani, less than two months before Iran’s May 19 presidential election.Iranian media say he will discuss several economic agreements – potentially valuable prizes for the moderate leader, who is keen to show his people that Iran is benefiting from its 2015 deal with world powers to rein back its nuclear programme in returning for an easing of international sanctions.”Rouhani desperately wants to finalise at least one deal based on new petroleum contracts before the election,” said Reza Mostafavi Tabatabaei, an energy analyst and president of London-based ENEXD, a firm involved in the oil and gas equipment business in the Middle East.”Western companies like (France’s) Total (TOTF.PA) are waiting for U.S. approval before any investment in Iran, so Rouhani’s only chance is Russian companies that might sign a deal before the election.”As key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia and Iran have played decisive roles in the past 18 months to turn the tide of the Syrian conflict in his favour. When Russian jets used an airbase in Iran to launch attacks against militant targets in Syria last summer it was the first time Moscow had made a military deployment there since it was an occupying force in the 1940s.Economic ties have developed in parallel: bilateral trade nearly doubled between January 2016 and January 2017, according to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development cited by the Sputnik news agency. “The political and military relations right now between the Islamic Republic and Russia are the strongest that we’ve seen ever,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations

At least 11 dead in suicide bombing and gun attack in southern Yemen | Reuters

27 mins ago   

ADEN At least 11 people were killed in a suicide bombing and gun attack by suspected al Qaeda militants on a local government compound in southern Yemen on Monday, a Yemeni government media office said in a statement.The attack is the latest in a series of operations by Islamist militants who have exploited a two-year-civil war to try to expand their control and recruit more followers in the country, which shares a long border with Saudi Arabia.The government media office said security forces confronted a suicide bomber who tried to drive a mini-bus laden with explosives into a government compound in al-Houta, the Lahj provincial capital. Security forces opened fire on the bus and clashed with militants wearing military uniforms who attacked the compound with automatic weapons, it said in the statement, adding that six security personnel and all the attackers died.Officials said there were five attackers in all. “The situation is now under control,” the statement quoted a security official as saying

EU nations vote against GM crops, but not enough to block them | Reuters

42 mins ago   

BRUSSELS A majority of EU countries voted on Monday against allowing two new genetically modified crops to be grown in Europe, batting the contentious decision on GM cultivation in Europe back to the EU executive, according to two sources.EU governments were asked to vote on the future of two grades of GM maize, Pioneer’s 1507 and Syngenta’s Bt11, which kill insects by producing their own pesticide and are also resistant to a particular herbicide.However, the votes against were not decisive in blocking their introduction because the opposition did not represent a “qualified majority” – also including countries that make up at least 65 percent of the EU population. The governments were also asked to determine whether to extend authorisation for Monsanto’s MON810, an insect-resistant maize that is grown mainly in Spain, but banned in a number of other counties.More countries voted against than in favour, but again the vote was not considered decisive. Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said the decision now rested with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.”He can put himself on the side of the majority of countries, citizens and farmers who do not want genetically modified crops, or he can back the mega-corporations behind the industrialisation of our countryside,” she said.

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