Iran foreign minister visits Oman, Qatar amid diplomatic standoff

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani greets Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif during their meeting in Doha on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2017
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Iran foreign minister visits Oman, Qatar amid diplomatic standoff

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign minister on Tuesday met with Qatar’s emir as a quartet of Arab states continues its boycott of the energy-rich nation, in part over relations that Doha maintains with Tehran.
Zarif on Monday met with Omani officials, including Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who has ruled Oman since 1970 and has served as an interlocutor between the West and Iran.
Zarif was met by Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah, the minister responsible for foreign affairs, on his arrival in Muscat.
Topics of discussion included the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and other issues, according to Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency.
Zarif called Oman’s relations with Iran “exemplary,” and told Omani state television that “we also live in a very difficult neighborhood and we want to engage in continuous consultation.”
On Tuesday, Iranian state media published images of Zarif in Doha meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. It marks Zarif’s first trip to Qatar since the diplomatic crisis began in June.
“None of the regional crises have a military solution,” Zarif said at the meeting, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency. All sides should “give priority to regional initiations for restoring collective stability and security.”
A short report on the state-run Qatar News Agency said the two “exchanged views on the current situation in the region,” without elaborating.
Iran and Qatar have strong shared commercial interests, namely a massive offshore natural gas field, called the South Pars Field by Tehran and the North Field by Doha.


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 26 April 2019
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New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.