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The Latest from Iran (31 August): The Failure of the Charm Offensive

See also Iran, Syria, and the Non-Aligned Summit: 5 Questions and Answers
Iran Special: Regime Show Collapses as Morsi Gives Tehran an "Islamic Awakening" on Syria
The Latest from Iran (30 August): The Big Names Arrive at the Non-Aligned Summit

Photo: Hamid Forootan/ISNA/REUTERS1651 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). The Supreme Leader has used his meetings with diplomats to hit back at criticism of the Assad regime. Ayatollah Khamenei, in an implicit jab at Egyptian President Morsi's speech on Thursday, said in a discussion with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, "[If] unity and cooperation existed in a serious manner, we would not have been witness to the unfortunate developments that are currently underway in Syria and Bahrain.”

In a photo opportunity with During a Friday meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki, the Supreme Leader targeted the US and Israel while absolving Iran over charges of intervention, “The main culprits in Syria’s developments are those who have paved the way for the influx of weapons into Syria and financially support irresponsible groups. If today, money and weapons were given to those opposing the policies of European governments and stage demonstrations, the current situation in Syria would be certainly created in those countries."

Ayatollah Khamenei continued, “The NAM is undoubtedly more entitled to be politically involved in the Syrian issues than the US, NATO and certain European countries."

The Supreme Leader urged the Assad regime to "continue political reforms while explaining and disclosing the reality on the ground as well as behind-the-scene conspiracies against Syria to the Western countries’ public opinion".

1543 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani took the podium today to convince the faithful of the success of this week's displya in Tehran, "Holding the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Iran was a show of power and political manoeuvre for Iran under conditions that the country is facing various threats. Such moves foil all plots and destroy them.”

The cleric called for expanded influence for the organisation, "This movement should be deepened and should move towards providing security in the world."

There is no indication that Emami Kashani spoke about the address by Egyptian President Morsi or the remarks of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

1156 GMT: Summit Watch. Another bit of fallout after Egyptian President Morsi's speech on Syria....

Among the politicians denying that Morsi had denounced the Assad regime and supported the opposition was Hamidreza Taraghi, who told UK-based journalist Masih Alinejad that Morsi had backed the Syrian President and the "West" was lying in its presentation of the speech.

Now Bultan News, amidst the embarrassment, is blaming those who spoke with Alinejad, who was forced to flee Iran after the 2009 Presidential election.

1109 GMT: Summit Watch. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has continued to put his challenge to the regime, speaking today at Tehran's School of International Relations about human rights:

Restricting freedom of expression and suppressing social activism will only set back development and plant the seeds of instability.

It is especially important for the voices of Iran’s people to be heard during next year’s presidential election.

That is why I have urged the authorities during my visit this time to release opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and social activists to create the conditions for free expression and open debate.

I also urge Iran to strengthen cooperation with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, in particular the Special Rapporteur. I have discussed this matter with your leadership.<

And on the nuclear issue:

It is in Iran’s interest to take concrete steps to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

That is why I urge Iran to uphold its responsibilities as a UN Member State and party to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, NPT, and to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions.

And I urge all parties in the region to recognize the need to resolve this situation through diplomatic and peaceful means. This is what I discussed with Dr. [Ali] Larijani, and also Foreign Minister [Ali Akbar] Salehi yesterday and also today. They both assured me that they are optimistic about the prospect of negotiation.


The Secretary General concluded:

My purpose today is to highlight the cost of Iran’s current trajectory, both at home and in the international arena.

Any country at odds with the international community is one that denies itself much-needed investment and finds itself isolated from the thrust of common progress.

Any country at odds with itself deprives itself of its people’s energy and goodwill, and sets the stage for future instability.

0937 GMT: Human Rights Watch. A day after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on the Supreme Leader to address human rights concerns, senior official Mohammad Javad Larijani has called Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights "irrelevant and irresponsible".

0925 GMT: Oil Watch. Japan's imports of Iranian oil fell to zero in July, the first cut-off since 1981.

To compensate, Japan --- one of Iran's leading customers --- increased imports from the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and other suppliers.

The Japanese Government has now backed insurance for tankers to cover the suspension of coverage by the European Union, and some shipments have resumed in August.

0905 GMT: Summit Watch. Iranian media are now split over the handling of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's speech on Thursday. Baztab, linked to top politician Mohsen Rezaei, carries Morsi's support of the Syrian opposition and condemnation of the "oppressive regime", but State news agency IRNA and other sites ignore the event.

Khabar Online, the outlet for Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, has the most curious coverage. Having re-written Morsi's speech on Thursday to have the Egyptian President condemning "sedition", the site now reports the Syrian Prime Minister's condemnation of Morsi.

Jahan News also gives the game away, calling Morsi's statements about the Assad regime "strange" and "baseless", while Mohammad Javad Larijani, senior judiciary official and brother of the Speaker of Parliament, said the fact that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Morsi could both express their positions showed the Islamic Republic's "high patience and tolerance".

0735 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ali Moslehi, a campaigner for opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, has been released on bail after two months in Kashan Prison.

0725 GMT: Currency Watch. With the end of the five-day public holiday for the Non-Aligned summit, Iran's currency markets will re-open tomorrow. That should return attention to the weakening Iranian Rial, which has lost 40% of its value this summer on the open market.

The head of the Central Bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, promised yesterday that the Rial will strengthen in the week ahead because of Bank intervention.

0650 GMT: We begin today with a close look at the surprise turn in the course of the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in Tehran, taking our title from Scott Peterson's account:

Iran's charm offensive and attempts to seize the high ground were dampened by the words of the UN chief [Ban Ki-Moon] and by Mohamed Morsi, the newly elected president of Egypt who became the first Egyptian leader to visit since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

We have posted a special analysis, "Regime Show Collapses as Morsi Gives Tehran an "Islamic Awakening" on Syria."

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