Egypt urges US to play ‘active’ Mideast peace role

A handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority's press office (PPO) shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in Cairo on Saturday. (AFP PHOTO / PPO / THAER GHANAIM)
Updated 29 April 2017
0

Egypt urges US to play ‘active’ Mideast peace role

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday urged the United States to help restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a statement from the presidency said.
The statement came after El-Sisi met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who will meet US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday for talks on reviving the stagnated Middle East peace process.
El-Sisi said it was “important that the United States returns to play an active role in efforts to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel,” the statement said.
The two “agreed that the two-state solution is the only way to bring stability to the region,” it added.
El-Sisi said a 2002 Arab peace initiative should be the basis for a comprehensive solution.
The Saudi-led initiative offered normalized relations with Israel in exchange for resolving the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
When Abbas meets Trump on Wednesday it will be the first encounter between the two men, but will follow a series of US contacts with the Palestinian leader.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have repeatedly run aground despite periodic US efforts to revive them, most recently by former secretary of state John Kerry.
But Abbas, who met in Ramallah recently with CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt, has said Trump is “seriously considering a solution to the Palestinian issue.”
Shortly after taking office, Trump alarmed Palestinians by calling into question his administration’s support for a two-state solution, a bedrock of US policy.
But he has since warned Israel against “unrestrained” building of settler homes in the occupied West Bank.


UN envoy due in Yemen as strains escalate with Houthi missile launch

Updated 9 min 30 sec ago
0

UN envoy due in Yemen as strains escalate with Houthi missile launch

RIYADH/ADEN: The Iran-aligned Houthi movement fired missiles at the Saudi capital Riyadh late on Sunday, escalating tensions ahead of a visit by the UN envoy to Yemen this week to try to avert a military assault on the country’s main port city.
A Houthi spokesman has threatened more attacks in response to the offensive launched by a Saudi-led coalition on June 12 to seize control of Hodeidah port, long a key target, in an attempt to weaken the Houthis by cutting their main supply line.
The United Nations fears that an assault on the Red Sea port, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, could trigger a famine imperilling millions of lives.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths is due in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday for talks with ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the legitimate government’s temporary capital, government officials said.
One official said Griffiths would be there only for a few hours for talks focused on averting an assault on the port.
“There is a proposal on the table,” the foreign minister of Hadi’s government, Khaled Al-Yamani, told reporters in Riyadh.
“We would accept a peace initiative on the condition that militias leave the western coast,” he said at a joint press conference to announce a $40 million project launched by Saudi Arabia for de-mining operations in Yemen.
The Houthis have indicated they would be willing to hand over management of the port to the United Nations, sources told Reuters. A US official said Washington was urging the Saudis and Emiratis to accept the deal.
The coalition said on Monday that eight members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group had been killed in battles in the mountainous Saada region in Yemen’s northwest, which is held by the Houthis along with the capital Sanaa.
Hezbollah officials could not be immediately reached for comment, but the group has previously denied Saudi accusations that it is helping Houthi rebels.
MISSILES OVER RIYADH
Saudi air defense forces intercepted two rockets over Riyadh late on Sunday, sending debris measuring up to several meters hurtling toward residential areas.
Pieces fell near the US mission in the Saudi capital and at a school in the diplomatic quarter. Debris sparked a fire at a construction site 10 km (six miles) further south and fell on the roof of a private residence, but Saudi officials said there were no casualties.
“Our rockets will reach places that the enemy will not expect,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said. “The longer the aggression and war continue, the greater our ballistic missile capabilities.”
Coalition spokesman Turki Al-Malki said the alliance’s advances on Hodeidah and other fronts were pushing the Houthis to try to project strength through such attacks.
Coalition-backed forces seized Hodeidah airport last week and have been consolidating their hold in the area as more Houthi fighters, many armed with Ak-47 assault rifles, were deployed in the city and around the port.
The United Nations fears heavy fighting will worsen what is already the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis, with 22 million Yemenis dependent on aid and an estimated 8.4 million believed to be on the verge of starvation.
The Arab states say they must recapture Hodeidah to deprive the Houthis of their main source of income and prevent them from smuggling in Iranian-made missiles, accusations denied by the group and Tehran.
The coalition has pledged a swift military operation to take over the airport and seaport without entering the city center, to minimize civilian casualties and maintain the flow of goods.