Egypt says clock ticking on sit-in standoff

Updated 12 August 2013
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Egypt says clock ticking on sit-in standoff

CAIRO: Egypt’s highest security body warned on Sunday that the clock is ticking in the search for a peaceful end to the standoff over sit-ins by ousted President Muhammad Mursi’s supporters, suggesting that authorities will break up the vigils unless ongoing mediation efforts produce results soon.
The military ousted Mursi in a July 3 coup that followed days of mass protests in which millions of Egyptians called on the Islamist leader to step down. Since then, the deposed Islamist leader’s supporters have camped out in two Cairo squares demanding his reinstatement.
The US and EU are trying to mediate a peaceful resolution to the standoff to avoid a repeat of deadly clashes between Mursi’s supporters and security forces that have killed at least 250 people since the army shunted Mursi aside.
But Egypt’s National Defense Council said the search for a peaceful resolution is not open-ended, and that a negotiated end would not shield what it called “law-breakers” and others who incite against the state from legal proceedings.
The NDC is led by the interim president. It includes Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who led the July 3 coup, as well as other top ministers.
Also Sunday, Egyptian authorities denied Yemen’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman entry into Egypt after she landed at Cairo airport on Sunday, airport officials said.
Karman, the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace prize, has stated her opposition to the military’s ouster of Mursi and said she had intended to join the larger of two sit-in protests by supporters of the former president in the Egyptian capital.
The airport officials said she was sent back on the Sunday flight that brought her to Cairo from the United Arab Emirates. They gave no reason as to why she was denied entry, saying only that her name had been placed on the stop list. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Sunday’s statement by the National Defense Council is the latest warning to the pro-Mursi protesters.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, called on them on Saturday to abandon their protest camps, while a senior US diplomat met with officials on both sides of the country’s political divide.
US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns extended his visit to Cairo by one day so he could meet el-Sissi and the country’s prime minister on Sunday, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official said. A member of the pro-Mursi delegation that met Saturday with Burns said the four delegates also would hold another round of talks with the US diplomat on Sunday.
At the core of discussions is the political future of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which Mursi hails, and its Islamist allies. The Brotherhood says it is looking for concessions before beginning talks with the new, military-backed administration. These measures could include releasing detained Brotherhood leaders, unfreezing the group’s assets, lifting a ban on Islamist TV stations loyal to Mursi and reigning in the use of force against its protesters.
But the National Defense Council’s statement suggested that the window for a negotiated end to the pro-Mursi sit-ins on opposite sides of the Egyptian capital was narrowing and not open-ended.
It said a chance should be given to all “negotiations and mediations” that could end the protests without bloodshed. But it said the timeframe should be “defined and limited and ... not infringe on the law and the rights of citizens.”
The statement also called on the protesters to abandon the sit-ins and join the political road map announced the day of the ouster of Mursi, who is being held in an undisclosed location and faces legal accusations of comprising with the militant Palestinian Hamas group to escape prison in 2011.
With the Islamist-backed constitution adopted last year suspended and the legislature dominated by Mursi’s supporters dissolved, the road map provides for a new or an amended constitution to be put to a national referendum later this year and presidential and parliamentary elections early in 2014.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince says Brexit opens UK for greater business opportunities with Kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
Updated 07 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince says Brexit opens UK for greater business opportunities with Kingdom

LONDON: People in the UK and Saudi Arabia are much safer if the two countries have a close relationship, the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said ahead of his visit to Britain.
Prince Mohammed arrived in the UK from Cairo last night to begin the second leg of his first overseas tour since becoming heir to the throne.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper, the crown prince said Brexit potentially freed up Britain to do more business with the Kingdom.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia needs to be part of the global economy,” he said. “People need to be able to move freely, and we need to apply the same standards as the rest of the world. After Brexit, there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030.”
He said the two countries enjoyed historic ties that dated back more than 100 years to the foundation of the Kingdom.
“We have a common interest that goes back to the earliest days of the relationship,” he said, adding: “Our relationship with Britain today is super.”
The 32-year-old crown prince, who is making his first official visit to Britain, has overseen a raft of reforms to modernize the Kingdom.
During the trip, he will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen and other members of the British royal family.
A number of events have been scheduled, including a forum on business partnerships between the two countries and a discussion event at Chatham House.
The visit is expected to focus on defense, security and economic ties. The two sides will also review key bilateral and regional issues.
Billboards highlighting his UK visit have been erected in parts of the capital, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.
One shows the flags of the two countries with “United Kingdoms” written across the top. Another shows Crown Prince Mohammed with the slogan: “He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia.”
The Telegraph interview touched on the wide-reaching reforms in the country that include allowing Saudi women to drive, work and run businesses.
He said that while Vision 2030 worked to diversify the economy, the inclusion of women in driving that economy was essential to the long-term success of the project.
The crown prince said that global travel had made Saudis increasingly aware how other countries operated. Such an insight, he explained, had led to a change in the aspirations of the country’s younger population.
Currently, UK trade with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states accounts for 10 percent of total commercial transactions — more than the total amount of trade with China, the newspaper added, citing British diplomats.
Security and intelligence cooperation are expected to feature heavily during talks in the UK.
“The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the crown prince said.
He said the job at hand was to promote a “more moderate Islam,” to counter the “extremists and the terrorists (who) are linked through spreading their agenda.”
Economic growth in Saudi Arabia would benefit the rest of the Middle East, which would help to defeat extremism.
He dismissed claims that the Saudi government’s current stance against Iran and Qatar could potentially provoke new regional conflict.
Britain was “very supportive” of the Kingdom’s concerns over Iran and other regional security issues, he said.
Before leaving Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed visited Al-Azhar, the world’s leading seat of learning for Sunni Muslims.
Accompanied by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam, he was shown the completed restoration work carried out on Al-Azhar Mosque.
The three-year project was financed by a grant from Saudi Arabia. The mosque, built in the 10th century, is now part of a sprawling university, which teaches Islam as well as secular subjects, and a nationwide network of schools.
Hundreds of Al-Azhar students met the crown prince and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
During the trip, Crown Prince Mohammed visited the main Christian cathedral in Cairo and met the head of the Coptic church. He also toured infrastructure projects and the Suez canal and attended a play at Cairo Opera House.
The two countries signed deals linked to investment funds and the building of a project in Sinai connected to Saudi Arabia’s Neom megacity project.