LATEST: Revolutionary Guards’ Site Acknowledges Former Political Prisoners Sotoudeh and Panahi


Iran is continuing to press for a place at the “peace” conference on January 22 to resolve Syria’s conflict, despite a setback on Friday amid US objections.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke with Lakhdar Brahimi soon after the UN envoy said, “The US is still not convinced Iran’s participation would be the right thing to do” for the long-proposed meeting in Switzerland.

Brahimi had met officials from Russia and the US, who have pressed for the conference since last April. The initiative has foundered on pre-conditions from the opposition and insurgency, who insist President Assad must step down, and the regime, who say the focus must be on “counter-terrorism” and not Assad’s future.

Washington has always maintained that Iran, an ally of the Assad regime, should not be at the talks. Despite signs of a shift after last month’s interim nuclear deal, it held the line on Friday, even after the participation of Saudi Arabia — the leading backer of the Syrian insurgency — was agreed.

Revolutionary Guards’ Site Acknowledges Former Political Prisoners Sotoudeh and Panahi

An interesting twist on Saturday in Fars, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards….

For years, the news agency would not acknowledge lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and award-winning Jafar Panahi, both held as political prisoners from 2010.

This morning, however, there is an entire column devoted to them.

The catalyst was this week’s visit by European MPs to the pair, who were awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2012. Neither could attend the ceremony last year, as Sotoudeh was serving a six-year sentence in Evin Prison and Panahi, also given a six-year term, was held under effective house arrest.

The visit prompted criticism from some Iranian MPs. The breaking of Fars’ silence appears to be a different attempt to discredit Sotoudeh and Panahi, claiming the Sakharov Prize is a political tool of the West.

Technical Talks on Nuclear Deal Resume on Saturday

Experts from Iran and the 5+1 Powers have started their second day of technical talks in Geneva, seeking to implement steps for the interim nuclear deal reached on November 24.

The discussions are scheduled for two days, but the Iranian delegation has said they may continue into next week.

Issues include Iran’s suspension of enrichment of 20% uranium and a start to the relief of US-led sanctions.