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Iran@Saban Headlines

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran (REUTERS/Caren Firouz).

POLITICS

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made his annual New Year’s speech at the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza in the northeastern city of Mashhad. In front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, Khamenei touched on a number of topics. He discussed U.S. involvement in the Middle East region, questioned the Holocaust, and stressed the importance of strengthening domestic cultural and economic policies. Editor of Al Monitor’s Iran Pulse, Arash Karami reported on today’s speech with a headline attributed from Khamenei’s speech: "Culture is even more important than the economy." English News Service Press TV also provided video segments of Khamenei’s speech with English subtitles. The full video of Khamenei’s speech was posted on his website, as well as full text of his speech in Persian.

Speaking to a group of youths, President Hassan Rouhani said, "You are at the age where you need to take full advantage of everything because your entire future will be built upon this point in your lives." He also emphasized that (mandatory) military service is not a waste of time as "it’s a necessity" because Iran’s military defends the country, and can provide a future for those who want to seek military careers.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian commented on an Iranian diplomat that was kidnapped in Yemen and said that Iran’s negotiators have reported that they are "closer to his release," and that he remains in "perfect health."

The U.S. Treasury announced that it has lifted some restrictions on sanctions placed on Iranian students and Iranian universities. A special permit issued by the U.S. Treasury allows student exchange programs between U.S. and Iranian universities, eases currency exchange, as well as other educational services. The easing of these restrictions would "create more opportunities for Iranian students to pursue their studies in the United States," according U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

NUCLEAR

Iran’s Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani was asked what would be Iran’s reaction if the west violated the Geneva agreement. Larjani responded by saying, "There is no need to say what our reaction would be (if the west violated the agreement) because that scenario has already been designed (by the west)."

Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) publishes a timeline summary of talks between the P5+1 and Iran with the chronology beginning in September of 2013, when Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif spoke to European Union Chief Catherine Ashton in New York, and ends with last week’s nuclear talks in Vienna.

ECONOMY & OIL

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was asked about people believing that Iran’s oil industry needs to be re-nationalized after the past eight years (under the Ahmadinejad administrations). Zanganeh dismissed the idea of the oil industry needing to be re-nationalized, and called such actions "extreme." Zanganeh continued, "We nationalized the oil industry after the 1979 revolution…what has transpired over the past eight years (under Ahmadinejad) is related to other issues, and has nothing to do nationalizing the oil industry."

Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Abbas Akhoundi has announced that in the next four years, Tehran’s metro system which currently has services around 27 million passengers annually, will increase to 40 million people a year. He also stated that Iran’s aviation industry has purchased six planes in the past few months and in the next few weeks, three additional planes will be purchased.

The Secretary General of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, cited the economic problems of the 1980s when Iran was at war with Iraq, and by using that context as an example, he said "once again the government will emerge from its economic problems."

NOWRUZ

U.S. State Department Farsi Spokesperson Alan Eyre congratulates Iranians on the New Year with a video message in Farsi.

European Union Chief Catherine Ashton sends a congratulatory Nowruz message to Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and the people of Iranian via Twitter.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated all those who celebrate Nowruz with a "Message for the International Day of Nowruz."

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas conveyed a congratulatory Nowruz message to Iran in which he "hopes to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and cooperation within the Middle East region."

PHOTOS

Female and male firefighters going about their routine in their fire station during Nowruz.

Nowruz Photographs at the scene of the tomb of the famous Iranian poet Hafez in Shiraz.

President Hassan Rouhani spends time during the Nowruz holiday with children and youths at a nursery.