Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hossein Marashi: Persian Gulf Museum Planned

Iran Daily: "Persian Gulf Museum Planned

TEHRAN, Dec. 28--Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization plans to establish a museum named after the Persian Gulf as part of a project to set up ten major museums throughout the country.
Announcing this, Vice President and Head of the organization Hossein Marashi said that the ICHTO plans to set up ten major museums in ten regions of the country to symbolize the cultural and civilizational features of those regions.
"Persian Gulf Museum is one of the ten museums, which will be put into operation at the earliest," he noted.
Asked whether the move is in response to the distortion of Persian Gulf's name by the US publication National Geographic and repeated claims about the three Iranian islands, Marashi said, "Authenticity of the name Persian Gulf and significance of setting up an exclusive museum mean more than that to us than simply make a decision to launch a museum on the basis of undocumented moves and false claims."
The only civilization that existed along the Persian Gulf coastlines was that of Iran, he affirmed, adding, "By displaying various manifestations including archeological findings and anthropological and spiritual developments during the historical periods in Persian Gulf Museum, we will establish that the Persian Gulf is related only to the Iranian civilization."
Meanwhile, director of Bushehr Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, Ardashir Mohammadi said, "In recent months, we proposed the establishment of the museum, which was approved by Marashi."
However, following the distortion of the Persian GulfÕs name by the US publication, it was agreed that provincial institutes help speed up the implementation of the project.
Bushehr Governor General's Office has allocated 20 hectares of land free of charge for the purpose, he concluded."

Pol-e Khaju, the most famous of Isfahan bridges

Iran Daily: "Sightseeing

Pol-e Khaju, the most famous of Isfahan bridges, has won the admiration of travelers since the 17th century.
There was an earlier bridge across the river at the same spot, near the district of Khaju on the old Shiraz road. This was probably built during the Timurid reign. Shah Abbas II built the present structure around 1650. It has 23 arches--436 feet long and 39 feet wide.
With its two stories of arcades with intersecting arches, its stone steps downstream with the water cascading over them, and its two large pavilions in the center, the bridge is a masterpiece of balance and harmony.
The outer side of the arcades is decorated with richly colored tiles, and the interior of the pavilions with more recent paintings.
Shah Abbas, the second of the Safavid Dynasty, built the present bridge on the ruins of Hassan Baik Bridge in 1650. The bridge is 105 meters long and 14 meters wide.
The pieces of stone used in this bridge are over two meters long and the distance between every channel and the ceiling base is 20 meters. The inscriptions available suggest that the monument was repaired in 1873."

West Azarbaijan Churches Celebrate New Year

Iran Daily: "West Azarbaijan Churches Celebrate New Year

Saint Thaddeus Church, West Azarbaijan province

TEHRAN, Dec. 28--Petros and Poulos, Maryokhneh (Golan), Fanaei and Mardanial are among the oldest churches in West Azarbaijan province.
Petros and Poulos Church was built 10 kilometers on the road from Orumieh to Golmankhaneh port by Hakim Marbakhtishu, a physician in the court of Haroun Ar-Rashid, an Abbasid caliph in the eighth century AD.
It is the oldest Assyrian church named after Petros and Poulos who were close companions of Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him).
The church, whose compound included a hospital and a library, was made of slate stones and gravel fixed in place with a mixture of lime and sandstones. The facade of the building was covered with plaster.
The gate of the church is located on the southern side. It is arched with plaster designs. The arch of the gate is decorated with stone in the form of a cradle.
Another church which is known as Maryokhneh is located in the village of Golan. It is a shrine for the Assyrians. It was built on the top of a mountain two kilometers from Golan.
According to Assyrian religious books, the church was built in the fifth century AD.
The building is an oblong structure with relatively wide stone walls and a gate without decoration. It embodies simplicity.
The facade of the building was plastered.
Mardanial Church is situated some 25 kilometers north of Orumieh on the top of a historical hill along Fazluchai River.
The church was built during the Sassanid era with sandstones in tawny color. It was destroyed during the First World War and was restored in recent years.
Fanaei Church is located in the suburbs of the city of Khoy in the village of Fanaei.
Fanaei church was constructed of gravel and slate stones. The arches are built on the wings of the church with a stone dome and a prayer house.
Fanaei Church was built during the Safavid era and it boasts of unique architecture and ornamental design.
The designs are mainly plaster works depicting flowers and shrubbery and the prayers house is also arched and very beautiful.
Special ceremonies are being held in the provincial churches on the auspicious occasion of birth of Christ-the messenger of peace and friendship.
Iran Daily takes the opportunity to greet fellow Christian citizens on the advent of the New Year. May God bless them to lead a prosperous life in Iran."

West in no position to comment on human rights after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib: Rafsanjani

West in no position to comment on human rights after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib: Rafsanjani: "West in no position to comment on human rights after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib: Rafsanjani
TEHRAN, Dec. 28 (MNA) -- Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said here on Tuesday that Westerners, and particularly the United States, are in no position to comment on the issue of human rights in light of the “Guantanamo hell” and the scandals resulting from the U.S. administration of Iraqi prisons.
Disclosures of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq created worldwide uproar and many international organizations have expressed serious concern over the abuse of prisoners in the U.S. military prison in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba.

In a meeting with the new Swiss ambassador to Tehran, Philippe Welti, Rafsanjani stated that the aggressive measures against the Palestinian and Iraqi nations, the efforts to deprive young women of an education due to their religious beliefs, and the unilateral approach toward the Al Manar television network are some of the obvious examples of violations of human rights by the West.

He described Iran-Swiss relations as positive, saying that this is due to Switzerland’s refusal to be influenced by international and regional affairs.

He also called for the expansion of cooperation and the development of bilateral ties between Iran and Switzerland.

For his part, Welti expressed his country’s views on significant regional and international affairs, saying there is a surprisingly great difference between the present reality in Iran and the image of the country presented by the Western media.

He stated that the Swiss government respects and defends the rights of the Palestinian people, adding that the acts of torture carried out in Guantanamo and the U.S. prisons in Iraq were a violation of international law, human rights, and global values.

The ambassador also called for the expansion of bilateral cooperation between Iran and Switzerland in the political, economic, and commercial spheres. "

Jordan asks for Iran's active participation in Iraq conference

Description of Selected News: "Jordan asks for Iran's active participation in Iraq conference

AMMAN (IRNA) -- Jordan government's spokeswoman Asma Khedr here on Monday asked for Iran's active presence at Amman Iraq's Neighbors Conference, Scheduled to be held on January 2005. Speaking at a press conference, she said, "Ministers of foreign affairs of Iraq's neighboring countries have all been invited to take part at the conference, aimed at exchanging viewpoints on current developments in Iraq, particularly Iraq's first historic free elections." Jordan government's spokeswoman referring to possibility of the Iranian foreign minister's absence at Amman conference on Iraq, further reiterated, "We hope to see Mr. Kharrazi in Amman for the event." The Jordanian government's spokeswoman said, "Iran's presence at the event would be effective and beneficial, and its absence would be regarded as a loss."

Amman Iraq's Neighbors Conference is scheduled to be opened here on January 15th, in the presence of ministers of foreign affairs of Iraq's neighboring countries, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey.

Iran said Sunday that Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi might boycott a meeting of Iraq's neighbors in Amman next after the Jordanian king charged that Tehran was meddling in Iraq's affairs.

Jordan's King Abdullah II earlier this month accused Iran of trying to influence the January 30 Iraqi elections in a bid to create a "crescent" dominated by Shi'as extending from Iraq to Lebanon. "It is in Iran's vested interest to have an Islamic republic of Iraq... and therefore the involvement you're getting by the Iranians is to achieve a government that is very pro-Iran," he told the Washington Post on December 8.

Relations between Tehran and Amman have improved unprecedented ever since President Mohammad Khatami took charge. Both countries' leaders have visited each other's capitals since then.

Diplomatic ties were broken for nearly a decade because of Jordan's pro-Iraqi stance under the late King Hussain during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-1988.

Relations were restored in 1991 and improved when King Abdullah took the throne in 1999 but hit a bad patch in 2002 over accusations Iran was violating Jordan's security. However King Abdullah made a landmark visit to Iran in September 2003,"

Government cites Turkish worries over investment security in Iran

Government cites Turkish worries over investment security in Iran: "12/28/04
Government cites Turkish worries over investment security in Iran
Tehran, Dec 27, IRNA -- Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh announced Monday that Turkey was refusing to sign two major telecommunications and aviation deals with Iran because of their investment security worries.
Apart from the two countries' differences, internal bickering within Iran has prevented the Turkish operator from setting up Iran's first private mobile phone network as well as another Turkish entity from building and operating a major airport in southern Tehran.

Ramezanzadeh said the issue was raised during recent visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to Turkey, but it led to no breakthrough.

"The most important issue in TAV and Turkcell contracts is the lack of stability in the country's laws, which has been shown to the foreign investors and the problems resulting from it still exists," he said.

"The problem is not merely the conclusion of the two deals; rather we should show to the world that there are stable laws in our country for investment," Ramezanzadeh added.

Turkey's leading GSM operator Turkcell is expected to invest about three billion dollars in the project, making it one of the biggest foreign investments in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Turkcell, however, has failed to go ahead with the project amid political saber-rattling inside Iran over worries that the country's security could be compromised.

Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ahmad Motamedi, said last Monday that negotiations continue to be held to work out the dispute.

"The ongoing negotiations on resolving the problems relating to the Irancell deal move on a hopeful trend," he said during a seminar on devising strategies for the induction of new generation of mobile phones into Iran.

Like Irancell, the fate of a deal to build and operate a major airport in southern Tehran by a Turkish consortium, TAV, has remained in balance amid security worries as well as suspicions about the entity's links to Israel.

Iran's armed forces closed down the Imam Khomeini International Airport on May 8, citing security concerns, just after it was officially inaugurated with the landing of a foreign aircraft.

Officials have said that the IKIA will eventually be able to handle 40 million passengers a year, making Tehran a regional transport hub.

The country's armed forces, however, have stressed that the airport will remain closed as long as 'security requirements' for carrying out flights from the facility are not met.

The dispute has beaten all the way up to the Iranian parliament, leading to the impeachment in October of transport minister Ahmad Khorram, whose ministry had awarded the IKIA contract to the Turks.

The parliament also passed an urgent bill, giving itself the prerogatives to scrap the two contracts if they are deemed them a threat to the country's national security.

The decision prompted the Government to postpone President Mohammad Khatami's planned visit to Turkey.

Motamedi announced the government's readiness 'to remove the MPs' concerns regarding the (Irancell) contract and implement necessary modifications'.

"The esteemed parliament deputies will certainly not accept cancellation of this important national project, given the sensitivities which exist regarding national interests and the people's welfare.

"Despite the concerns which certain individuals outside the parliament created among the MPs and led to the presentation of an urgent bill ordering to prevent the implementation of the Irancell deal, negotiations continue on a hopeful note," he added.

Motamedi said the current Iranian mobile phone network, providing connection to 3.5 million subscribers in the 70-million-country, lags 10 years behind the rest of the world in updating its technology.

"Bridging this gap in the short-term through traditional methods is certainly impossible," he said.

According to the communications minister, the Irancell deal, better known as the Second Operator in Iran, is 'one of the solutions to overcome this problem'.

"A simple estimate indicates that if we rely on the capability of the First Operator, given the 25-fold increase in the country's capacity, it will take between eight and ten years to meet the existing demands (for mobile phones)," Motamedi said.

Next year, 2.5 million new lines will be added to the network, he added."

Safaie-Farahani to Shariatmadari:Economy Ministry not hindering auto imports

IranMania News: "Economy Ministry not hindering auto imports

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Dec 28 (IranMania) - Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance rejected any intervention by the Ministry in car imports or fixing its tariffs.

According to ISNA, Mohsen Safaie-Farahani made the remarks in reaction to Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari's criticism, which accused the economy ministry of throwing a monkey wrench in the process of auto imports by objecting to lower import tariffs.

The official added that the ministry has nothing to do with imports and has no responsibility in setting, reducing or increasing car import tariffs.

The official put the blame on the Ministry of Mines and Industries, adding, "At present, Ministry of Mines and Industries creates obstacles in the way of auto imports." He did not elaborate on how the ministry blocks the procedures for importing automobiles.

He defended the performance of Confiscated Properties Organization on the sale of smuggled goods through tender and said that the organization has acted in accordance with its responsibility and the regulations.

Recently, head of provincial headquarters for combating goods smuggling, Colonel Behzad Qasemi said that properties seized from smugglers by the police forces would be handed over to the Confiscated Properties Organization, which is affiliated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance."

IranMania News

IranMania News: ""Iran to turn into major petrochemical producer"

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com

LONDON, Dec 28 (IranMania) - Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Iran will turn into one of the major producer of petrochemical products in Asia and the world. Addressing a group of officials in charge of petrochemical industries, Zanganeh hailed the petrochemical industry in Iran as a progressive industry and the driving force of major sections of national industries as well as focal point of non-oil exports.

Petrochemical industries is not simply producer of the chemical fertilizers today, rather it produces variety of petrochemical products, said Zanganeh, adding that Iran`s petrochemical output will reach 35 mln tons by end of the Third Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2000-05) from 160,000 tons in 1965.

Relying on huge oil and gas reserves and benefiting from skilled manpower, Iran`s petrochemical industry can play a grave role on the world markets and development of the petrochemical industry would play an important role in employment and creation of jobs, he added.

He said establishment of necessary infrastructures, training of the skilled and specialized workforce, support for private sector and all-out support for investment in the petrochemical sector are among the important subjects which should be taken into consideration in order to develop the industry.

Iran`s petrochemical industry owes its present position to endeavors and devotion of tens of thousand people over the past 40 years, he added. Meanwhile, Deputy Oil Minister for Petrochemical Affairs and Managing Director of National Petrochemical Company (NPC) of Iran Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh said that under a 10-year plan for development of the petrochemical industry, Iran`s ranking will rise to 10 by 2014 from 80 at present.

The value of exportable petrochemical products would rise to dlrs 20 bln once a series of petrochemical projects come on stream, said Nematzadeh."