Kerry calls for unity as he wraps up Egypt visit

Updated 04 March 2013
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Kerry calls for unity as he wraps up Egypt visit

CAIRO: US Secretary of State John Kerry met the Egyptian president yesterday as he wraps up a trip to Cairo, where he urged divided factions to reach a consensus that would pave the way for economic recovery.
Before going into talks with President Muhammad Mursi, the US secretary of state met Army Chief Abdel-Fatah Al-Sisi.
Kerry flew in to Cairo from Turkey yesterday and urged a wide range of political and business leaders to reach a consensus, after months of political turmoil and unrest.
“There must be a willingness on all sides to make meaningful compromises on the issues that matter most to the Egyptian people,” Kerry told reporters after talks yesterday with Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr.
“We do believe that in this moment of economic challenge that it is important for the Egyptian people to come together around the economic choices and to find some common ground in making those choices,” he said. Kerry said discussed with Mursi ways in which the United States could help Egypt recover from its economic crisis.
“And I emphasize again, as strongly as I can, we’re not here to interfere, I’m here to listen,” Kerry said.
A State Department official traveling with Kerry told reporters that the secretary of state would also discuss anti-semitic remarks Mursi made before he was president and has since backtracked from.
But “the primary goal here is to encourage his — to encourage his work that he did with Israelis in getting the Gaza cease-fire,” he said, of an Egyptian-mediated truce that ended eight days of fighting in November between Israel and Hamas.
Meeting some of Egypt’s business leaders, Kerry stressed the importance of a $ 4.8-billion IMF loan, which is partly conditioned on a measure of agreement between the nation’s divided factions.


Temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Daesh-held area of south Damascus

Updated 45 min 16 sec ago
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Temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Daesh-held area of south Damascus

BEIRUT: A temporary humanitarian ceasefire is in place to allow women, children and the elderly to evacuate the Daesh-held area of Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad in south Damascus, Syrian state media said on Monday citing a military source.
The Syrian army and its allies have been battling for weeks to recapture the tiny Daesh enclave, the last area outside government control in or around the capital.
On Sunday, state media denied a war monitor’s report that fighters had begun withdrawing from the area toward Daesh territory in eastern Syria under a surrender deal.
The temporary ceasefire came into effect on Sunday night and will end at 12pm and the army offensive will start again immediately, state media cited the military source as saying.
The war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported early on Monday that buses had already started leaving south Damascus for the Daesh areas in eastern Syria.
The ultra-hardline militant group now controls only the tiny pocket in south Damascus and two besieged desert areas in eastern Syria, while another insurgent group that has pledged loyalty to it holds a small enclave in the southwest.
Pro-Syrian government forces have staged an intensive operation to recover Daesh’s south Damascus pocket in Al-Hajjar Al-Aswad and the adjacent Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp since driving rebels from eastern Ghouta in April.