1. Lebanon’s Hariri to Abu Dhabi, then to France
Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Monday with UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum at Mushrif palace in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported. Sheikh Mohammed is also UAE vice president and Dubai’s ruler. The meeting was attended by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to WAM. Hariri was in the UAE on a two-day official visit. The premier is scheduled to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks with top French officials.
2. Jumblatt: Syria reconciliation nearly complete
“I believe that three-quarters of the road to Syria has opened up and what remains is the final gesture which depends on the right moment,” said Jumblatt in an interview with AFP at his ancestral home in Lebanon’s Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut. The 60-year-old hereditary chieftain of Lebanon’s Druze minority has come under fire since defecting in August from the US-backed March 14 ruling coalition he helped create in order to move closer to the Hezbollah-led opposition camp supported by Syria and Iran. The move came as Syria emerges from its international isolation and amid a rapprochement between Damascus and Riyadh, two key regional players. Jumblatt justified his U-turn, saying it was a necessary step to preserve the peace and avoid sectarian bloodshed. “I am willing to sacrifice everything for the civil peace even if my decisions are not popular,” he said. “One must at times swim against the current.” He said the sectarian unrest that brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008, when members of his Druze clan fought bitter battles with the Shiite Hezbollah in the Shouf region, had been a rude awakening.
3. meanwhile, Iran seems pretty popular. Iran and Syria, Iran and Georgia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, etc.
“Iran and Syria don’t allow any third party to interfere in their ties,” Mottaki stressed. Mottaki, who was speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with his Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, further pointed to the relations between Tehran and Tbilisi, and said the two nations enjoy historical, cultural and geographical bonds.
Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy great potential
Asked on the relations between Tehran and Riyadh, Mottaki reiterated that Iran has designed a framework for the promotion of cooperation and intimate relations with the regional countries and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states, including Saudi Arabia. “We utilize capacities and potentials to develop cooperation,” he said, and added, “We are in contact with these states. The two-day conference dubbed as “Persian Gulf: Challenges and Regional Mechanism” was officially kicked off at the ministry’s Political and International Studies Office following an inaugural address by Mottaki. Experts from 15 countries, including Kuwait, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Romania, France, Germany, Japan, India, China and Russia as well as academics from around the globe are present in the gathering to discuss protection of the environment, PGCC, Iraq’s role in Persian Gulf developments and stability, security of the area as well as the global economic crisis and its impacts on the Persian Gulf.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Venezuela’s oil reserves do not pose a threat to Iran’s position in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as the two countries cover the two ends of the market, an Iranian oil ministry official said following the discovery of major oil reserves in the Latin American country….Venezuela and Iran are two of the 12 members of OPEC along with Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran and Saudi Arabia are considered as OPEC kingpins with strong clout on the policies and decisions adopted by the oil cartel.
Georgia welcomes Iran’s presence in Nabucco — yeah this one is a little suspicious
TEHRAN (FNA)- Georgia announced on Monday that it supports Iran’s presence and partnership in the Nabucco gas pipeline project to carry natural gas from Central Asia to Austria via Turkey and the Balkan states, bypassing Russia and Ukraine.
4. Iran to send 5th fleet of warships to Gulf of Aden because of Somali pirates
TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander announced on Monday that the Navy is due to dispatch a fifth fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden late January to defend the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against continued attacks by Somali pirates.
5. Japanese envoy underscores Iran’s role in regional security