‘Eerie quiet’ at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar after protests

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Tehran’s usually bustling Grand Bazaar was “eerily quiet” on Thursday, a day after rare protests over Iran’s plummeting currency swept through the heart of the Iranian capital.

The Grand Bazaar “was mostly shuttered, with only a few street-side shops open,” Agence France Press reported.

“America wants us to bend, but we have our pride,” a clothing merchant at one of the few open shops told the AFP.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asked about the protests Wednesday, said sanctions had likely not been a key factor in Iran’s recent currency woes. But she said, Iran could move swiftly to exit the situation by “working with the P5+1” to ease international concerns over its nuclear program.

European foreign ministers would probably announce additional sanctions on Iran at a meeting mid October, a senior European diplomat, speaking on background Wednesday, said. The measures would likely focus on closing loopholes in a European ban on the import of Iranian oil that went into full effect in July, and on cutting off banks that deal with Iran’s banking sector.

The diplomat said that a meeting of the P5+1 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week had been very short and almost symbolic, deciding chiefly that the group’s public message would be to stress its “unity.”

But perhaps belying that message, the diplomat revealed that while Clinton and foreign ministers from France, the UK, Germany and China attended the ministerial meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russia had not sent its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, but rather its lower level UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin. Continue reading