EU, Iran Hold Formal Talks in Tehran

EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini is currently in Tehran to hold talks with Iranian leadership there. The two sides will hold talks concerning how the nascent nuclear deal will be implemented, as well as on potential areas of cooperation. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has indicated that energy, human rights and regional security concerns such as ISIS and an increasingly polarized Middle East will feature in the talks.

The talks are expected to proceed even as the deal faces increasing opposition in the United States. US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have spoken recently about the impossibility of an alternate nuclear deal and encouraged the US Congress to expedite approval of the deal. While in the US the president ultimately holds veto power, a congressional rejection could prove to be symbolically significant.

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News Briefs:

  • EurasiaNet has an interesting piece on the impact of the Greece crisis on Azerbaijan’s energy industry. Azerbaijan’s state-controlled oil company SOCAR currently funnels natural gas to Greece via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). By 2019 it is expected to deliver Greece, Albania and Italy approximately 10 billion cubic meters of gas per annum. Azerbaijan also had plans to purchase a 66% stake in Greece’s state-administered distribution network, although recently Greece has stated that it would like to reduce Azerbaijan’s stake to a minority level and reassert its control over the distribution network.
  • A Ukrainian court has lifted penalties previously leveled against Russian airliner Aeroflot. Ukraine had penalized the Russian air carrier because it conducted flights to and from occupied Crimea. It is unclear what provoked the change in policy.
  • Kazakhstan announced its formal accession to the World Trade Organization.  Kazakh President Nursaltan Nazarbayev attended the formal acceptance speech earlier this week in Geneva, Switzerland and reiterated that the country would lower import tariffs and take steps to attract greater foreign investment. The Kazakh economy has struggled as of late, however, and its industrial and agricultural output is weaker than anticipated.
  • The value of the Russian ruble has dropped vis-à-vis the US dollar to its lowest point since March 20. The ruble’s value plummeted months ago amid falling oil prices and Western sanctions, though it had shown signs of regaining value. One US dollar is currently worth 60 rubles.
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