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Iranian VP Ebtekar: 'Syria needs a diplomatic solution'

In a DW interview, Iran's Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar discussed issues including the Syrian war and women's rights in Iran. She also urged world powers to follow through with Iran's nuclear deal.

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Masoumeh Ebtekar told DW TV that all parties involved in the Syria conflict needed to work together to find a political solution to the conflict.

"There is a terrible ordeal… mostly due to terrorists that are armed and supported by certain groups and countries. The solution to the Syrian conflict is only political," Iran's first female vice president said Thursday. "We have been doing our best. The important thing is that we must understand that terrorists are being funded. This has not been properly addressed."

Iran can be counted among the allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the country's position on who is responsible for the conflict more closely aligned with that of Russia than NATO members. Syria's government also tends to use the term "terrorists" as a catch-all term for rebel fighters in the country.

Masoumeh Ebtekar (ap)

Masoumeh Ebtekar first served as Vice President of Iran from 1997- 2003, and has again served in that capacity since September 2013

Ebtekar also took the opportunity to decry casualties from the conflict in Yemen, where regional rival Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition against Houthi rebels.

The Yemeni conflict has resulted in an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis: over three million people have been displaced from their homes, hundreds of thousands of whom have sought refuge abroad. At least 10,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting. 

 

Improving cooperation on nuclear and environmental issues

The vice president's portfolio also includes serving as Iran's minister for the environment. She is currently visiting Germany, seeking Berlin's help in areas including green technology and solar energy.

Ties between Iran and the West have been improving since the Shiite nation struck a historic agreement with world powers over its nuclear program in July last year.

Frankreich Cop21 Klimagipfel in Paris - Ban Ki-moon & Masoumeh Ebtekar (picture-alliance/AP Images/L. Venance)

Ebtekar meets Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, French President Francois Hollande, and French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Segolene Royal at the Paris climate change conference in 2015

Ebtekar said that President Hassan Rouhani - elected in 2013 and considered a more moderate actor than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - made Iran's nuclear deal possible despite difficulties. "We hope to see an implementation now. We have complied; we expect others to comply too." 

Economic ties

On Tuesday, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel wrapped up a two-day official visit to Tehran, his second since the nuclear deal, assuring the Islamic Republic's authorities that Berlin wanted to give them assistance in restoring international relations.

"Our aim is to support the current government with its path to opening up to the world," Gabriel said in Tehran, adding that he considered Iran to be a reliable credit partner that usually kept agreements.

Deutschland Bundeswirtschaftsminister Sigmar Gabriel im Iran (picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka)

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was in Tehran to expand bilateral ties

Germany and Iran had strong trade and investment ties before international sanctions were imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program. The lifting of those sanctions in January following a nuclear deal with world powers began a race among countries for a slice of Iran's oil-rich market of 80 million people.

However, the expected benefits from the lifting of sanctions have been slow to materialize due to US sanctions on Iran for non-nuclear activities, including those related to ballistic missiles, human rights and support for terrorism.

European banks have refrained from working with Iran owing to concern the United States could impose fines for violating a complicated web of other sanctions. To explain their concerns, the banks tend to point to the almost 1.3-billion-euro ($1.5-billion) fine that German lender Commerzbank agreed to pay a year ago for violating US sanctions.

Iran has accused the United States of blocking the country's economic integration with the world economy. Lack of financing has upset the potential for major trade deals between Iran and Germany.

Media 'biased' regarding women's rights

Masoumeh Ebtekar also discussed the issue of women's rights in her country, alleging that the western media was portraying an incorrect picture about Iran.

"It is not a holistic picture… Women are advancing in Iran. More than 60 percent of our women are getting into universities… Women are policy makers in Iran. When tourists come to Iran, they see a different picture," she said. "We still need reforms in many areas. We have to understand that we have an Islamic society. Certain norms are to ensure women's integrity and dignity. It is not to limit women."

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