Salam vows to safeguard Lebanon from Syria war

Updated 07 April 2013
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Salam vows to safeguard Lebanon from Syria war

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s newly named Prime Minister Tammam Salam pledged in his first speech yesterday to safeguard the country’s security from the war raging in neighboring Syria.
“There is a need to bring Lebanon out of its state of division and political fragmentation, as reflected on the security situation, and to ward off the risks brought by the tragic situation in the neighboring (country) and by regional tensions,” Salam said.
Salam, 67, of the Western-backed opposition made the remarks in his inaugural speech shortly after being tasked by President Michel Sleiman with forming a new government.
His appointment comes two weeks after Najib Mikati resigned and effectively brought down his Hezbollah-dominated government.
Salam also pledged to work with all groups across Lebanon’s political spectrum, which is split into pro- and anti-Damascus camps.
“I have accepted this nomination... out of conviction that it is my duty to work for my country’s interest, in cooperation with all political parties,” he said.
The March 14 opposition movement, meanwhile, is fiercely opposed to Damascus.
Salam’s nomination is expected to help ease a political crisis that has gripped Lebanon ever since the Syria conflict erupted more than two years ago.
But he faces the difficult challenge of forming a government in a deeply divided country.
While Hezbollah has expressed support for the creation of a national unity government, it is unclear if March 14 would accept this.
Salam refused to comment on the issue, and instead told reporters: “I will work for a government committed to the national interest.”
Hanging over the process is the question of whether elections will go ahead as scheduled in June, amid broad opposition to the electoral law currently on the books.
“I am conscious that it is a sensitive period,” Salam told reporters, stressing the importance of upcoming legislative elections.
“I hope to continue consultations with the political leaders in the coming days... in order to form a new government.”


China’s Xi to arrive in the UAE for state visit

Updated 19 July 2018
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China’s Xi to arrive in the UAE for state visit

  • His appointments during the three days include a series of high-level meetings with his Emirati counterparts
  • The UAE and China established diplomatic relations in November 1984

DUBAI: China’s Xi Jinping will arrive in the UAE Thursday for a three-day state visit, marking his first overseas trip since he was re-elected as president earlier this year.
Xi’s visit to the Emirates is part of his five-nation diplomatic tour – including Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius – to coincide with the Chinese leader’s attendance at the 10th annual BRICS summit in Johannesburg from July 25 to July 27.
Prominent UAE buildings – including the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Frame in Dubai and Emirates Palace Hotel and Abu Dhabi Global Market in Abu Dhabi – have been lit up in red to resemble the Chinese flag in celebration of Xi’s visit.
His appointments during the three days include a series of high-level meetings with his Emirati counterparts. The Chinese leader is also scheduled to visit the recently opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
Ahead of Xi’s arrival, the country kicked off an official “UAE-China Week” featuring cultural events and entertainment, which officials say they plan on making an annual event.
Developer Emaar also announced plans for what it said would be the biggest Chinatown in the Mideast: a development of 6 square kilometers that will be located 10 minutes from the Dubai International Airport.
Construction is also a big-ticket market for Chinese firms. In Dubai especially, its massive Sheikh Zayed Road has seen a number of quickly built Chinese overpasses spring up over its dozen lanes. Chinese-built high-rises also have become increasingly common.
The state-run China State Construction Engineering Corp. also has contracts with private interests as well. Most noticeably, it won a $19.6 million contract in June for “major road and infrastructure work” at a development by DAMAC Properties that will surround Dubai’s second Trump golf course. It earlier won a $130 million contract to build apartment towers near the first Trump golf course, which President Donald Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric opened in February 2017.
China has expanded its influence among Arab states both for economic purposes and to counter the influence of Washington and Europe. The Middle East is also a key node in China’s “Belt and Road” initiative that envisages linking Beijing to other parts of Asia, Europe and Africa via a network of ports, railways, economic development zones and power plants.
Since the start of their diplomatic relations, cooperation between the UAE and China has grown continuously, “supported by their strong ties of friendship and mutual respect, to achieve their mutual interests,” state media WAM reported, quoting Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, the UAE’s Minister of Economy.
The strong diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries have developed into a strategic partnership, the report added.
China was the UAE’s largest trade partner in 2017 with their total non-oil trade exchange estimated at $53.3 billion, a 15 percent growth compared with 2016. Additionally, over 25 bilateral commercial agreements and MoUs between the two countries have been signed as of September last year and have exchanged over 120 official visits between 2011 and 2017.
Al-Mansouri added that since the start of their diplomatic relations, cooperation between the UAE and China has grown continuously and boosted by prospects for further partnerships through Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
The UAE and China established diplomatic relations in November 1984, with the UAE opening its embassy in Beijing on March 19, 1987. The Gulf state also opened consulates in Hong Kong in 2000, Shanghai in 2006 and in Guangzhou in 2016. China meanwhile established its Abu Dhabi embassy in April 1985 and its consulate in Dubai in November 1988.
There are about 200,000 Chinese citizens currently working or living in the UAE, while the number of Chinese tourists has risen about a quarter to over a million after the country granted visa-on-arrival privileges to visitors from the Asian country.

(With AP)