Sunday, 12 January, 2020

Canada has started ‘official’ talks with Iran to renew ties

Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion says that his country has started talks with Iran on the renewal of ties.

Confirming to CBC News that preliminary contact has been made, Dion said: “Talks have started, yes, at the official level.”

There has been speculation the discussions took place in New York City, where the two countries have political delegations.

“I will not comment,” the foreign minister said when asked about a possible location. “But the usual way by which countries who want to recreate links proceed, is step by step, at the official level in neutral territory.”

Italy has been handling Canada’s interests in the country since ties were cut four years ago, a situation Dion calls “absurd.”

“Thank God we have the help of the Italians but it would be much better if Canada were able to help itself as a country.”

“How can you help this region if you don’t have the ability to be in Iran, to work with the people of good faith there … move this government toward something more acceptable,” Dion said. “Canada needs to be involved and it’s what our allies are asking us to do.”

In February, the Liberal government announced it was lifting some sanctions against Iran, but that others would stay in place.

Dion would not speculate on the type of diplomatic presence Canada might pursue in Tehran, but added that an embassy was not a likelihood in the near future.

“I would say it’s step by step — and an embassy cannot be a first step.”

Canadian ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration severed diplomatic relations with Iran in September 2012, citing, among other pretexts, what it described as continued threats from Iran to Israel.

In January, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Iran would welcome reinforcing relations with Canada.

‘The ex-Canadian government severed its relations with Iran and we hope the new Canadian government would practice proper political and diplomatic measures aimed at fostering relations with Iran,’ IRNA agency news quoted Jaber Ansari as saying.

‘Iran did not cut its relations with Canada and naturally Tehran would welcome amicable relations with Ottawa,’ he added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in June 2015 that a Liberal government would re-engage with Iran.

“I would hope that Canada would be able to reopen its mission, as I understand it, there were security concerns that led to the closing of the mission, but I’m fairly certain that there are ways to re-engage” Trudeau told a CBC interviewer in June, just as the United States and other world powers were concluding a nuclear deal with Iran that would reduce economic sanctions and open the country to renewed trade.

There’s a noteworthy Iranian-Canadian community scattered across Canada, which has nurtured prominent artists, scientists, scholars, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, journalists and even politicians who maintain close relations with the fellow citizens living in Iran.

Canada court hands over Iran assets to terror victims’ families

As Canadian government is trying to resume relations with Iran, a Canadian judge has ordered Iran’s non-diplomatic land and bank accounts in Canada to be handed over to victims of attacks, AFP reported.

The Canadian judgment awards about $13 million in non-diplomatic assets to families of Americans who died in bombings or hostage-takings in Buenos Aires, Israel, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia from 1983 to 2002. Hundreds died in the attacks.

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