- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Iran 'alarms' Georgia by tactics in Caspian

BAKU, Azerbaijan — Georgia is "alarmed" at the behavior of Iran in its dispute over the Caspian Sea, Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili said yesterday during a visit to the neighboring Caucasus republic of Azerbaijan.

"Georgia has watched recent events in the Caspian with alarm," Mr. Menagarishvili told reporters after meeting Azeri Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliyev in Baku. "Georgia and Azerbaijan must mobilize their efforts in terms of economic cooperation to counteract those who do not want stability in the region," he said.

Last month, an Iranian warship trained its guns on an Azeri oil exploration vessel in a disputed sector of the resource-rich Caspian, ratcheting up tensions between Baku and Tehran.

Georgia and Azerbaijan are soon to be partners in a multimillion-dollar gas-export pipeline from the Caspian through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean, and are anxious to avoid political instability. Georgia's president, Eduard Shevardnadze, is expected in Baku by the end of August to sign the pipeline contract.

Newspaper reports new Tehran floggings

TEHRAN — Six young Iranians accused of drinking alcohol were publicly flogged in Tehran's western Azadi (Freedom) square, the pro-reform Norouz paper reported yesterday.

The daily, which criticized public floggings, said the six youths, whose ages and identities were not revealed, were tied with chains and flogged Saturday.

The number of public floggings in the Iranian capital has increased recently, developing into a new political dispute between Islamic hard-liners and reformists backing President Mohammed Khatami's promised social reforms.

Late last month, a reformist party close to Mr. Khatami condemned public floggings, saying they harm the Islamic regime's image around the world.

Islamic 'modernists' form own Turkish party

ANKARA, Turkey — Moderates from the outlawed pro-Islamic Virtue Party announced yesterday the creation of a new party, hardening the division in Turkey's Islamist movement.

Virtue's conservative faction last month founded its own party Saadet (Felicity) after the Turkish constitutional court banned Virtue for anti-secular activities.

There was no immediate announcement about who would be chairman of the new Justice and Development Party. The moderates, also known as the "modernists," are led by Istanbul's popular former mayor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 47, for whom the new party means a political comeback.

Weekly notes

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Khatami yesterday discussed ways to keep supporting the Palestinians against Israel, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The two men consulted by telephone over "the crimes being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people," SANA said. "Israeli colonialism in the land of Palestine, which it has occupied since 1967, is living, in my opinion, its last moments," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher was quoted yesterday by Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MEAN) as saying. "We have seen throughout history that colonialism gets more brutal in its final hours," he added.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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