King Salman, Trump begin consultations on fighting terror, Syria safe zone

Updated 30 January 2017

King Salman, Trump begin consultations on fighting terror, Syria safe zone

WASHINGTON: In his first phone call to an Arab leader, US President Donald Trump discussed with Saudi King Salman bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud yesterday a full range of bilateral and regional issues, including extensive coordination in combatting terrorism, establishing safe zones in Syria and deepening Saudi-American economic ties.
The call which according to a White House official occurred at at 1:30 p.m. Washington time (9:30 p.m. Riyadh time) was attended at the oval office by Trump’s most senior advisers. The pool report noted that US national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law and trusted adviser Jared Kushner, the chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon as well as the White House spokesperson Sean Spicer were in the room. 
In a statement released by the White House few hours later, the Trump administration confirmed that the “two leaders reaffirmed the longstanding friendship and strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia.” On the issues, Trump and King Salman “agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of radical Islamic terrorism and also on the importance of working jointly to address challenges to regional peace and security, including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.”
On Syria particularly both leaders agreed “support safe zones in Syria and as well as other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts.” The phone call also discussed Iran, with mutual agreement “on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”
Bilaterally, Trump “voiced support for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic program and expressed a desire to explore additional steps to strengthen bilateral economic and energy cooperation.” The White House also confirmed that King Salman passed an invitation to Trump “to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially, for the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region.” King Salman was also the first Arab leader to congratulate Trump in a statement after winning the election on November 9th.
Both world leaders extended invitations to boost bilateral ties and cooperation and agreed to schedule visits in the upcoming period.
President Trump also had a phone call with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Sunday during which they explored ways of enhancing bilateral ties, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Sheikh Mohammed affirmed that extremism and terrorism have no religion or identity and the groups that preach false slogans and ideologies seek to disguise their criminal intention in spreading chaos and destruction.
The two sides took stock of the latest regional issues and developments in light of the UAE and US’ vision regarding important ideas and initiatives that aim to put an end to the security and humanitarian deterioration in the region.
The also emphasized their commitment to realize stability and security in the region and support joint efforts to counter extremism, violence and terrorist groups that threaten security and safety of countries and peoples.
“The UAE is looking forward to overcome this stage of chaos and instability in the region through joint co-operation and efforts that serve mutual interests, achieve peace and stability and restore security,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

Updated 38 min 27 sec ago

Ukrainian pianist hits the high notes for Taif visitors

TAIF: It is not unusual for musicians to aim for the stars, but organizers of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif gave the Ukrainian concert pianist Olina Lukashu a head start.

Visitors to the opening entertainment events at King Faisal Garden were treated to the sight and sound of Lukashu performing 5 meters in the air, dressed in a long white gown that reached down to the ground.

“It was decided to put her at the entrance of the garden, all dressed in white to welcome the visitors,” festival spokesman Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab News.

“It is a new idea that was greatly enjoyed by visitors, who admired her rendition of various musical pieces.”

Among the 25 events taking place in conjunction with this year’s festival is a circus presented by five Latin American countries, Al-Anzi said. There is also a free childcare service, mobile food courts, international restaurants and a live broadcasting studio.  “Visitors will be able to ride camels inside the park, and enjoy the handicrafts on display by various artisans,” he said.

Dr. Sami bin Abdullah Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, told Arab News the Taif Season was important in terms of generating employment opportunities for young Saudis, and creating tourist projects. “All the events are full of visitors,” he said.

He said 2,000 jobs were provided during the Taif Season, and those who took up the opportunities gained skills and knowledge about the requirements of an audience.

“Saudi culture has changed, and Saudis have become more aware of global challenges and requirements, and the expectations of tourists and other consumers,” he said. “Taif Season has set a high standard.”