Full diplomatic backing for Vision 2030

Updated 29 April 2016
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Full diplomatic backing for Vision 2030

RIYADH: A number of foreign ambassadors in Riyadh on Thursday applauded and expressed support for Vision 2030, the ambitious plan to diversify the Saudi economy.
“Vision 2030 is a ‘big thing.’ It’s a strategic project for the future of Saudi Arabia,” German Ambassador Boris Ruge told Arab News from Washington, DC, where he is on an official trip.
“I’m halfway across the globe but I am following the developments taking place in the Kingdom, which is our close ally and big trade partner in the region.”
He added: “The staff at the German Embassy, now under Chargé d’Affaires Michael Ohnmacht, and I am studying the document and as we do, we are upbeat and excited about it.”
He said that Germany is already considering measures to step up collaboration with the Kingdom as it implements Vision 2030.
“For Germany, Vision 2030 is a strategic project as far as the future of Saudi Arabia is concerned.”
Irish Ambassador Tony Cotter expressed support for new vision and said: “It is a very positive and ambitious plan to diversify and transform the economy, removing its dependence on oil and creating education and employment opportunities for its citizens.”
He added: “I wish the Kingdom every success in its implementation.”
Indian Ambassador Ahmad Javed said: “Vision 2030 is indeed a milestone” in the history of Saudi Arabia.
“It is a significant step toward transforming all aspects, particularly diversification of the Saudi economy,” he said. “We look forward to cooperating with the Kingdom in realizing the ambitious plan.”
Pakistani Ambassador Manzoorul Haq said: “We wish well for the brotherly country of Saudi Arabia coming out with the powerful vision document.”
He said: “I am very positive that Vision 2030 will bring sustainable development, progress and more prosperity for the people of Saudi Arabia.” He added: “We look forward to seeing the positive results that will help bring rapid progress for the Kingdom and its people.”
Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago said the vision is a move in the right direction and bespeaks well as far as the future of Saudi Arabia is concerned.
He said that Vision 2030 is a comprehensive plan, and if followed to the letter, it will ensure a more prosperous future for Saudi Arabia in general and the Saudis in particular. Tago congratulated Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim described the vision as a “very positive” initiative to diversify Saudi economy. “Saudi Arabia really needs such a dynamic effort in the fast changing world,” he said.
“We are the partners and always wish good for the Kingdom. Indeed, we fully support this very positive and strategic plan that lays out ambitious goals set for the next 15 years.”


US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa

In this Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 photo, fighters from the Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ, hold a celebration in Paradise Square in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Gabriel Chaim)
Updated 20 October 2017
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US-backed Syrian force declare victory over Daesh in Raqqa

BEIRUT: A US-backed Syrian force declared victory over Daesh in its former “capital” of Raqqa on Friday, declaring the northern Syrian city free of any extremist presence.
At a press conference held inside the city Friday, the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces formally handed over administration of the devastated northern city to a council made up of local officials and tribal leaders.
In a highly symbolic move, the press conference was held inside the city’s sports stadium which Daesh militants had turned into an arms depot and a huge prison where they incarcerated and tortured their opponents.
“Our victory is one against terrorism, and the liberation of Raqqa marks the latest chapter in the fight against terrorists in Syria,” said Talal Sillo, a spokesman and senior SDF commander.
Standing before a backdrop of shattered buildings, Sillo urged the international community and aid organizations to assist with the city’s reconstruction.
Associated Press drone footage from Raqqa showed the extent of devastation caused by weeks of fighting between Kurdish-led forces and Daesh and thousands of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition.
Footage from Thursday shows the bombed-out shells of buildings and heaps of concrete slabs lay piled on streets littered with destroyed cars. Entire neighborhoods are seen turned to rubble, with little sign of civilian life.
The video showed entire blocks in the city as uninhabitable with knocked-out walls and blown-out windows and doors, while some buildings had several stories turned to piles of debris. The stadium that was used as an arms depot and prison by the extremists appears to have suffered less damage compared with surrounding buildings.
“We call upon all countries and peace-loving forces and all humanitarian organizations to participate in rebuilding the city and villages around it and help in removing the scars of war that were inflicted by the (Daesh) group,” Sillo said.
Sillo said 655 local and international fighters lost their lives during the four-month battle for Raqqa.
Long before the ground offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces began in Raqqa in early June, warplanes pounded the city for months.
The US-backed Kurdish-led SDF announced Tuesday they have driven Daesh militants out of the city after weeks of fighting.
The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for Daesh, which has seen its territories steadily shrink since last year. Daesh took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicenter of its brutal rule.