Iran, Italy pen €1.2b rail MOU

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July 12, 2017


TEHRAN – The Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, known also as RAI, and the Italian state-run railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding worth €1.2 billion on construction of a high-speed railway between the Iranian central cities of Arak and Qom.

During a joint seminar held at the headquarters of RAI in Tehran, some knowledge transfer MOUs were also signed between the two sides.

An MOU was inked between the two state-run bodies and Iran University of Science & Technology, while some other MOUs were inked between the named Iranian academic body and an Italian university.

These MOUs were signed by the CEO of FS, Renato Mazzoncini, and the Head of RAI, Saeed Mohammadzadeh. The signing ceremony was attended by the Chancellor of Iran University of Science & Technology, Mohammad-Ali Barkhordari, the Italian Ambassador to Tehran, Mauro Conciatori, and some other Iranian and Italian officials and entrepreneurs.

On the sidelines of the signing ceremony, Mohammadzadeh expressed hope that all the inked agreements will pave the way for development of the Iranian rail sector and transfer of knowledge to the Islamic Republic.

As Mohammadzadeh said, designing and building of the Qom-Arak high-speed railway will kick off in the next Iranian calendar year (starts on March 21, 2018). The project, financed by Italy, will become operational jointly by Iranian contractors and FS.

Improvement of railway services is one of the top priorities defined in the Sixth Five-Year National Development Plan (2016-2021) and the transport ministry seeks to develop this sector to reach the target, Mohammadzadeh, who is also the deputy transport minister, said.

“Based on the sixth development plan, one percent of Iran’s crude oil income should be allocated to the expansion of railways,” he underlined.

During the past four years, $1 billion to $1.5 billion of direct investments have been attracted by the railway sector per year and $7.5 billion have been allocated by the government to guarantee investments in this sector, he added.

As Mohammadzadeh told the Tehran Times, RAI is also holding talks with German and Spanish companies on some other railway development projects.

‘No obstacles for financing’

Mazzoncini, for his part, expressed satisfaction with the MOUs, saying that the two countries are to enter a new chapter in their relations after the lifting of sanctions and the penned MOUs will go through operational phases within the next six months. He hoped that regarding the current conditions, there will be no obstacles considering the required financial issues and credit lines for the project.

The relation between Iran and Italy is, as you know, very important and also the cooperation between the universities is also important, he said.

“One of the agreements we signed today is for training engineers and technicians in Iran to create competence in Iran,” he added.

‘Iran-Italy economic ties on positive track’

In an interview with the Tehran times, the Italian ambassador to Tehran predicted a bright future for mutual economic ties between Tehran and Rome.

“This is a very positive trend, above all, thanks to the small and medium-sized enterprises of the two countries and it is time to pave the way for something more substantial and strategic and this one is an important step,” Mauro Conciatori said.

“For the moment, great boost is on joint venture [between Iran and Italy] in small and medium-sized enterprises and after that we must go for infrastructure and productive activities in oil, gas, and power generation,” he further elaborated. “It is normal that this will take a little bit time but I think that we are on a very positive track.”


Source  :  Tehran Times

Depositors rally for KCUC asset seizure to get money back

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national July 14, 2017 16:36

By Piyanuch Tamnukasetchai
The Nation

A group of depositors affected by the multi-billion baht Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement scandal rallied outside the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) head office in Bangkok on Friday, urging the agency not to revoke its confiscation orders of assets seized from the case’s suspects.


Led by Thammanoon Attachot, the 50-strong group claimed the KCUC board’s civil lawsuit and subsequent settlement would leave little money to repay the individual depositors, most of whom were elderly persons. Their hope of getting more reimbursement hinged on the DSI still holding the assets, most of which were properties with rising values, they said.

The KCUC board previously demanded DSI release the confiscated assets to make way for auctions as per a civil court order.

Head of DSI’s special case division, Pol-Major Woranan Srilam, collected the group’s petition letter to pass on to the DSI chief.

Thammanoon said the group wanted the DSI and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to retrieve assets back for auctions to repay the damaged parties.

A civil lawsuit filed by the KCUC board would mean the cooperative would get the compensation equivalent to the Bt3.811 billion of siphoned money – when there are also the asset-retrieving expenses and the three-per cent lawyer fee (about Bt114 million) to pay in the civil code procedure, he said.

If the case were treated as a money-laundering offence and the assets were retrieved by the DSI and the AMLO, depositors would get back the assets plus interests without paying lawyer fee, Thammanoon said.

He said the depositors weren’t confident in the KCUC board, which had agreed to get Bt321 million compensation from former chairman and case suspect Supachai Srisupa-aksorn in one of the related cases in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

Supachai faces several lawsuits based on various amount of money he allegedly stole in different time periods.


Source  :  Nation Multimedia

Suspect in Krabi family massacre arrested

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File photo

Breaking News

July 14, 2017 15:34

By The Nation

Police have arrested a man who they believe is the mastermind behind the massacre of a village head and his family in Krabi.

“He is now in police custody and being grilled,” a police source said on Friday.

Worayuth Sunglung, a village head in Krabi’s Ao Luk district, was shot execution-style inside his own home alongside his family. Eight victims including Worayuth died and three others survived. The only family member unharmed was Worayuth’s three-month-old son.

An investigation suggests that a conflict over a failing stone-mill project might have led to the merciless murders.

“A police team is now heading to Nakhon Si Thammarat where the alleged gunmen have gone into hiding,” the source said.


Source  :  The Nation

Over 100 journalists killed, injured while covering Mosul battles: Statement

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( Forty-seven Iraqi journalists were killed, while fifty-five others were wounded while covering and accompanying security troops during battles in Mosul, the Federation of Arab Journalists said.

In a statement on Thursday, the federation offered felicitations to Iraqi journalists who covered the details of the battles in Mosul, praising the victory achieved by security troops

On Friday, two Iraqi journalists were killed as Islamic State militants attacked Imam Gharbi village in Qayyarah, south of Mosul.

An Iraqi and French journalists were killed in June in an IED blast in Mosul’s Old City.

The first Iraqi slain journalist in 2017 was Abdul Qader al-Qaisi, who was kidnapped and then found by security forces in January. His body was dumped on the road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. Another journalist Afrah Shawqi was abducted for nine days and then released.

A report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in December seven reporters were killed in Iraq in 2016, out of a total of 57 who were killed in conflict areas across the world. Syria came on top of the death tally with 19 victims. The total for 2016 was, however, a drop from the 101 death count of 2015.

In October, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Iraq was the world’s top country in terms of impunity regarding journalists’ killing, attributing the fact to the involvement of extremist militias in the murders.


Source  :  Iraqi News

Paramilitary troops kill two Islamic State fighters, northeastern Diyala

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Diyala ( Two Islamic State militants were killed in clashes that occurred in northeastern Diyala, the Shia-led paramilitary troops announced.

In a statement on Friday, al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said IS fighters attacked a security checkpoint at Imam Wees region, 58 KM northeast of Baqubah, which left two militants killed.

The 110th brigade, according to the statement, targeted IS rest houses in Imam Wees and its vicinity.

On Wednesday, PMUs said six IS militants were killed as a secret meeting for the fighters was shelled in Wadi Thilab region, Naft Khana, northeastern Diyala.

Attacks launched by Islamic State militants against security troops, the pro-government forces and civilians surged over the past few weeks in northeast of Diyala, which urge the Iraqi forces to prevent the militants infiltration between Salahuddin and Kirkuk provinces, especially the regions stretching along Hamreen mountains and Al-Azeem town.

IS holds pivotal regions that link between each of Diyala, Salahuddin and Kirkuk, posing threats to the liberated regions.

PMUs, an alliance of more than 60 mostly Shia militias, are recognized by the government as a national force under the Prime Minister’s command.

In May, news reports quoted sources as saying that the extremist group opened alternative headquarters for its so-called “Nineveh State, “Dijlah State”, “Salahuddin State” and “Diyala State” in Hawija.


Source  :  Iraqi News


Source  :  Iraqi News

Domestic airfares up slightly in July

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Australia's domestic carriers at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Australian domestic airfares edged marginally higher in July in both business and economy class.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) measure of domestic business class airfares was at 94.9 index points in July, up marginally from 94.2 points a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the best discount economy index rose to 59.9 points, compared with 57.4 points in the prior corresponding period.

And the restricted economy index was at 82.2 points, up from 78.9 points in July 2016 and at the highest level since a change to the index in June 2011 when Virgin Australia and Jetstar introduced simplified fare structures that brought down the cost of so-called flexible fares.

The BITRE air fare series is a price index of the lowest available fare in each fare class, weighted over selected routes.

The creeping up in fares has coincided with Australia’s major carriers Virgin and Qantas holding capacity levels steady in an effort to improve the bottom line and better match the number of seats in the market with demand.

Indeed, recent figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said demand in the Australian domestic market had gone backwards in the year to May 2017, with revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) down 0.3 per cent and capacity measured by available seat kilometres (ASK) falling 2.9 per cent, compared with the prior corresponding period.

Australia was the only domestic market to go backwards in terms of RPKs in the year to May. With capacity being cut more than demand, load factors were up two percentage points to 77.4 per cent.

S&P Global Ratings, formerly known as Standard and Poor’s said in a recent research report Australia’s domestic market had “bucked the global trend by moving sideways”.

Further, the decline in mining investment would dampen demand on fly-in/fly-out routes and trans-continental flights from Perth to Australia’s east coast. Tepid wage growth and high levels of household indebtedness would also weigh on consumer demand.

“We expect capacity growth to remain broadly flat with a mild contracting bias over the next two years,” S&P Global Ratings analyst Graeme Ferguson wrote in the report dated June 27.

“The rate at which excess capacity washes through the system will, therefore, be largely determined by domestic demand conditions, which we view as mixed.”

On a more positive note, S&P Global Ratings said tourism, particularly from the Chinese market, has been boosted by a lower Australian dollar.

“Both carriers have done a good job of shifting capacity away from challenging markets and towards growth markets,” the report said.

“Given these factors, we believe capacity utilization (load factor) is likely to moderately improve over the next couple of years.”


Source  :  Australian Aviation