UK backs ‘safe passage’ for Assad

Updated 09 November 2012
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UK backs ‘safe passage’ for Assad

JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held talks here yesterday with British Prime Minister David Cameron on major regional and international issues including Syria and Palestine.
“The two leaders also discussed ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation in all areas, serving the interests of the two countries and peoples,” the SPA said.
King Abdullah conferred on Cameron the King Abdul Aziz Sash of the First Order that is given to foreign heads of state. The premier thanked the king for the honor.
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal attended the talks.
On the British side, the talks were attended by Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Jenkins, and other senior officials.
Cameron told Al Arabiya television he would support granting Syrian leader Bashar Assad a safe passage out of Syria to end the nation’s bloodshed.
But “of course, I would favor him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he’s done,” Cameron said, according to a transcript of the interview.
Cameron later met with female students at the Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah.
Cameron’s visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia is aimed at strengthening economic and defense ties with them and “signals the PM’s commitment to cementing long-term partnerships with two of Britain’s most important strategic allies,” Cameron’s office said before the trip.
Yesterday, Britain and the UAE announced they had agreed on a defense partnership and to boost the British military presence there.
The two countries will “work together to deepen our defense ties” for the “security of the UAE and wider Gulf region,” a joint statement said.
 

Related story: Brahimi fears Somalia fate for Syria

 

 


New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

Updated 31 min 43 sec ago
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New Palestinian deaths bring toll from Israel clashes to 40

GAZA CITY: Two Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel were pronounced dead Monday, a Gaza official said, bringing the toll from Israeli fire since March 30 to 40.
A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry named the latest fatalities as Tahrir Wahba, 18, and Abdullah Shamali, 20.
Wahba, who was deaf, was shot in the head in a clash east of Khan Yunis on April 6, and Shamali died of “bullet wounds to his belly” sustained on Friday, said spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra.
Most of the 40 Palestinians killed by Israel since the start of “March of Return” protests on March 30 were shot by snipers on the border, while a few others were killed by Israeli artillery or air strikes.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the coastal enclave, wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, have gathered at the border on consecutive Fridays to call for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.
Some protesters have launched stones or burning tires at Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces have responded with live ammunition, wounding hundreds in addition to those killed.
The Israeli army says its troops only opened fire in self-defense or to stop protesters attempting to breach the barrier separating the territory from Israel.
More than 440 demonstrators suffered bullet wounds or gas inhalation on Friday, rescuers said.
Israel has drawn harsh criticism from rights groups along with calls for investigations by the United Nations or the European Union.
Israel has for more than a decade imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, fighting three wars with Hamas since 2008.
Also on Monday, Hamas’s military wing said one of its men died in an explosion.
It said in a statement that Mohammed Al-Maqadma, 55, was killed by an “explosive projectile” fired by an unnamed group which it described as hostile to Hamas.
It did not elaborate further.
The Gaza health ministry said a child was wounded in the same blast, in the northern part of the strip.