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IRAN

Nuclear states berate North Korea, Iran plans

Representatives of the world's five big nuclear-armed states on Friday voiced concern over North Korea and Iran's nuclear programmes, lamenting the threat to global efforts to avoid proliferation.

"In the context of the nuclear test conducted by (North Korea) on February 12th 2013, and the continued pursuit of certain nuclear activities by Iran … the P5 reaffirmed their concerns about these serious challenges to the non-proliferation regime," they said in a statement.

The representatives of the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and longtime nuclear weapons states – made their statement at the end of a two-day preparatory meeting in Geneva ahead of the next review in 2015 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

That treaty has since 1970 set the global agenda for keeping countries from getting the bomb.

In their final statement, the so-called P5 stressed "the fundamental importance of an effective IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards system in preventing nuclear proliferation" and vowed to continue to work to "find peaceful diplomatic solutions to the outstanding problems faced by the non-proliferation regime."

Since launching its third nuclear test, North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003, has been locked in increasingly hostile exchanges with Seoul and Washington, including threats of nuclear war and precision missile strikes.

Iran, which remains a signatory of the NPT, is meanwhile believed to be working towards developing nuclear weapons, although the country insists its work is being conducted for energy and medical purposes.

Russia presided over this week's high-level diplomatic meeting. France will take the reins of next year's meeting aimed at preparing the 2015 NPT review conference.

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DIPLOMACY

Iran summons Swiss envoy over US arrest of journalist

Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to demand the unconditional and immediate release of a state television journalist detained in the United States.

Iran summons Swiss envoy over US arrest of journalist

Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said a note of complaint was issued to¬†the ambassador for Switzerland over the “inhuman and discriminatory” detention¬†of Iranian citizen and Press TV reporter Marzieh Hashemi.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran handles US interests in the Islamic republic after the two countries broke off relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“Her immediate and unconditional release was demanded” at the meeting with the ambassador, Ghasemi added.

US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran's English-language Press TV, was arrested on arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13th, according to family and friends cited by Press TV.

Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had reportedly been visiting her ill brother and other family members.

A US court on Friday confirmed the arrest, saying her testimony was required over an unspecified case but that she was not accused of a crime.

At a hearing in Washington, a judge ordered the partial unsealing of an order on Hashemi.

The court said Hashemi was arrested on “a material arrest warrant” and would be let go after she gave testimony to a grand jury investigating unspecified “violations of US criminal law”.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday described the detention as a “political action” by the United States that “tramples on freedom of speech” and demanded she be set free.

Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and “it is our duty to defend our citizens”.