After Saudi stop, Merkel visits UAE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with people working in refugee relief from all over Germany in Berlin. Merkel arrived in Dubai on Monday after a one-day visit to Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo)
Updated 01 May 2017
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After Saudi stop, Merkel visits UAE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Germany has offered diplomatic help to try to end the war in Yemen, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday as she ended a two-nation Gulf tour taking in the Arab world’s largest economies with a stop in the United Arab Emirates.
Merkel arrived in the seven-state federation following a visit to Saudi Arabia, where she held talks with King Salman and other senior leaders that touched on regional conflicts as well as women’s inequality and other human rights issues.
She said Berlin is offering diplomatic support aimed at resolving the Yemen conflict and has been in contact with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about its proposal, according to a transcript of her remarks provided by her office.
“Germany has offered to support this UN process with its own diplomatic possibilities,” she was quoted as saying. “That has met with the approval of Saudi Arabia. We will now move ahead with the necessary coordination with the UN secretary-general.”
A Saudi-led coalition backed by significant Emirati support has been bombing and battling Yemeni rebels for more than two years in support of the impoverished country’s internationally recognized government.
Shiite powerhouse Iran supports the insurgents, known as Houthis, and the Sunni-ruled Gulf states view the fight as a way to limit Iran’s involvement in their backyard.
While in Saudi Arabia, Merkel had said she does not believe there can be a military solution to the war, which has killed more than 10,000 civilians and created a humanitarian crisis in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country.
The UN recently said some 18.8 million people in the country need humanitarian help or protection.
The German leader was greeted by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan upon her arrival on Monday in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi. The crown prince is the half-brother of the country’s ailing president and his presumed successor.
Emirati officials did not allow foreign journalists based in the country to witness Merkel’s visit.
German officials have said Merkel would press Gulf rulers to do more to take in refugees and provide humanitarian relief for those fleeing conflict in Muslim-majority countries. Germany has provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.
Trade is high on Merkel’s agenda too. Her delegation includes prominent German business leaders looking to strengthen ties with the country’s two largest trading partners in the Middle East.
Her meetings in the Emirates, which includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, would include discussion of a free-trade agreement between the Gulf states in the European Union and “how we can move ahead and intensify our economic relations still further,” she said.


Iran starts Gulf war games, to test submarine-launched missiles

Updated 5 min 25 sec ago
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Iran starts Gulf war games, to test submarine-launched missiles

  • More than 100 vessels taking part in the three-day war games in an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean
  • Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles
DUBAI: Iran on Friday began large-scale naval drills at the mouth of the Gulf, which will feature its first submarine cruise missile launches, state media reported, at a time of rising tensions with the United States.
More than 100 vessels were taking part in the three-day war games in a vast area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, the state news agency IRNA reported.
“The exercise will cover confronting a range of threats, testing weapons, and evaluating the readiness of equipment and personnel,” navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said in remarks carried by state television.
“Submarine missile launches will be carried out ... in addition to helicopter and drone launches from the deck of the Sahand destroyer,” Khanzadi said.
State media said Iran would be testing its new domestically built Fateh (Conqueror) submarine which is armed with cruise missiles and was launched last week.
Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program last May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles.
Iran launched its domestically made destroyer Sahand in December, which official say has radar-evading stealth properties.
The USS John C. Stennis entered the Gulf in December, ending a long absence of US aircraft carriers in the strategic waterway.
Iran displayed a new cruise surface-to-surface missile with a range of 1,300 kilometers earlier this month during celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, although there are concerns about its long-range ballistic missiles.