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News Briefs – April 11, 2016

Iran to hold three-day military drill

Iran’s official IRNA news agency is reporting that the country’s Revolutionary Guards will begin a ground forces drill April 12 near the Pakistani border in the southeastern part of the country.
The April 10 report quotes the chief of IRGC’s ground forces, Mohammad Khakpour, as saying the three-day exercise will be carried out in four provinces and it will use and test the IRGC’s latest equipment — including the guards’ new helicopter unit. AP
 

U.S. brings B-52 bombers back to the Mideast to target IS

The United States has deployed B-52 bombers to the Mideast nation of Qatar to take part in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State group, the Air Force said April 9.
It is the first time the Cold War-era heavy bombers will be based in the region since the 1991 Gulf War, when they operated from neighboring Saudi Arabia.
The Air Force said the B-52s arrived at Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Saturday.
The long-range bombers will join a multinational coalition carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq. AP
 

Russia defends selling arms to both Azerbaijan, Armenia

Russia on April 9 defended its policy of selling arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, whose military forces have faced off in a sharp escalation of fighting around separatist Nagorno-Karabakh.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said if Russia stopped selling arms, both countries would simply seek new suppliers.
“They would buy weapons in other countries, and the degree of their deadliness wouldn’t change,” he told Russian state television following visits to the capitals of Armenia and Azerbaijan. “But at the same time, this could to a certain degree destroy the balance” of forces that exists in the South Caucasus region.
Both Azerbaijani and Armenian forces this month have used artillery, tanks and other weapons on a scale not seen since a separatist war ended in 1994. The war left Karabakh, officially part of Azerbaijan, under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces and the Armenian military.
The Russian arms sales to energy-rich Azerbaijan have angered many in Armenia, which has hosted a Russian military base and kept close security and economic ties to Russia. But the parallel arms sales reflect Russia’s desire to expand its influence in the strategic region, a key conduit for energy resources from the Caspian Sea to the West.
Russia has joined the United States and France in acting as mediators in Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which have dragged on since 1994 with no visible results. AP
 

Iran says Boeing officials will visit Tehran soon

Iran said April 9 that the United States has allowed Boeing to have direct talks with Iranian airlines following reports that a Boeing delegation will visit the country, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The report quoted Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, as saying “Boeing intends to launch its talks with Iranian companies with permission from the U.S. government.”
Abedzadeh said Boeing has provided an Iranian airline with, “some technical issues to upgrade flight safety.” He did not elaborate.
He also said Iran has “appropriate offers” from airplane manufacturers in Brazil, Canada and Japan for both leasing and selling airplanes to Iran.
On April 9, IRNA said a delegation from Boeing will visit the country to review “possible cooperation” with Iranian airlines. It said officials from Iran’s national carrier, Iran Air, and other Iranian airlines will meet the Boeing delegation.
In March Abedzadeh said Iran will likely sign an agreement to buy airplanes from Boeing. The Chicago-based airline manufacturer has denied repeatedly that it will sell airplanes on the visit, instead saying it will discuss fleet-planning options with Iranian officials.
Last summer’s nuclear deal between Iran and world powers has brought an end to international economic sanctions, allowing the Islamic Republic to upgrade its aging fleet of aircraft. Iran Air has already signed agreements to buy 118 planes from the European consortium Airbus and 20 more from French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR. AP

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