Hariri stops for talks with El-Sisi on his way back to Lebanon

Egyptian PresidentAbdel Fattah El-Sisireceives outgoingLebanese Premier SaadHariri in Cairo. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Hariri stops for talks with El-Sisi on his way back to Lebanon

BEIRUT/CAIRO: Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks in Cairo on Tuesday with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during a stopover on his way from Paris to Beirut.
Hariri’s resignation on Nov. 4 triggered a political crisis in the power-sharing government. In brief remarks after Tuesday’s meeting, he thanked El-Sisi for his support and said he would be in Lebanon on Wednesday for Independence Day celebrations.
Minutes after Hariri landed in Cairo, small groups of supporters took to the streets of central Beirut in noisy convoys, honking, cheering and waving flags with the colors of his Future Movement political bloc. Hariri had been in Paris since Saturday when he met French President Emmanuel Macron.
Hariri arrived at Cairo International Airport, where he was received by Egypt’s health minister, the Lebanese ambassador to Cairo and Egypt’s ambassador to Beirut. He went immediately to the Heliopolis Palace, where he was warmly greeted by El-Sisi. Their meeting was also attended by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, intelligence chief Khaled Fawzy and El-Sisi’s chief of staff, Abbas Kamel. The meeting was followed by a dinner in Hariri’s honor.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun also spoke by phone with El-Sisi. The two men “underscored the importance of preserving Lebanon’s stability as well as upholding Lebanon’s national interest,” El-Sisi’s office said.
Also on Tuesday, France repeated its call to Hezbollah to “lay down its arms and act as a party that respects Lebanon's sovereignty and commits to the Security Council’s resolutions on this matter.”
“Lebanon’s stability requires that Hezbollah does not get involved in the region’s conflicts, and therefore we consider its intervention in Syria dangerous,” said the French Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Agnès Romatet-Espagne.
She also reminded Hezbollah how important the security of the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel was to France.
“Given the delicate circumstances, Paris will continue its dialogue with all Lebanese parties and urge them to reach an understanding on the proper functioning of state institutions,” she said.
President Aoun received messages on Tuesday from King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulating him on Lebanon’s Independence Day on Wednesday.
The two Saudi leaders wished Aoun good health and happiness, and the people of Lebanon progress and prosperity.
Aoun and Lebanon’s parliamentary Speaker, Nabih Berri, also received a congratulatory message from US President Donald Trump. “The United States greatly values the established cultural, family, political and economic ties between the two countries and their people,” said Trump. “Lebanon has always been a strong partner in facing terrorism and radical extremism. We stand firmly with Lebanon and we will continue to support the efforts of your country to protect Lebanon’s stability, independence and sovereignty.”


UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

Khalifa Haftar. (Supplied)
Updated 21 August 2018
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UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

  • Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar
  • Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees

TRIPOLI: The UN has called on Libya’s internationally recognized government to crack down on armed groups obstructing the work of state institutions in the chaos-wracked country.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) late on Sunday night expressed its “strong condemnation of the violence, intimidation and obstruction to the work of Libya’s sovereign institutions by militiamen.”
It called on the UN-backed Government of National Accord to “prosecute those responsible for these criminal actions.”
The GNA’s military and security institutions have failed to place limits on the powerful militias that sprung up in the turmoil that followed the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Several state institutions, including those in Tripoli, have been regular targets of harassment and intimidation by armed groups technically operating under the GNA’s Interior Ministry.
Members of militias “nominally acting under the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord are attacking sovereign institutions and preventing them from being able to operate effectively,” UNSMIL said.
Last week, the GNA’s National Oil Corp. said men from the Interior Ministry had forced their way into the headquarters of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company — a distribution outfit — to “arrest” its chief.
The Libyan Investment Authority, the GNA-managed sovereign wealth fund, recently moved from its downtown Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees.
UNSMIL said it would work with the international community and the GNA to “investigate the possibility of bringing sanctions against those interfering with or threatening the operations of any sovereign institution.”
Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
A myriad of militias,terrorist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.