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 Security Council meets on Gaza violence

A photo taken on November 12, 2018 shows a ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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UN Security Council meets on Gaza violence

  • Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings
  • Palestinian militant groups including Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued a joint statement earlier announcing an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip but there was no agreement on how to address the crisis, diplomats said.
Kuwait, which represents Arab countries at the council, and Bolivia requested the meeting following the worst flareup in Gaza since the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel.
Addressing reporters after the 50-minute meeting, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the council was “paralyzed” and had “failed to shoulder its responsibility” to take action to end the violence.
“There is one country that is not allowing discussion at the council,” Mansour told reporters, in a reference to the United States, which has taken a pro-Israeli stance under President Donald Trump.
There was no statement from the council on the crisis. Such statements are agreed by consensus by all 15 council members.
Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said the majority of council members were of the view that the top UN body “should do something” and some suggested a visit to the region, but no decision was taken.
Palestinian militant groups including Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued a joint statement earlier announcing an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel.
The groups said they would abide by the truce as long as Israel did the same, but there was no immediate comment from the Israeli side.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon earlier said “we will not accept a call for both sides to exercise restraint” and laid the blame for the violence squarely on the Palestinians.
Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings in the worst escalation of violence since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
The latest round of violence began on Sunday with a botched Israeli special forces operation inside the Gaza Strip that turned deadly and prompted Hamas to vow revenge.
Palestinian militants responded with rocket and mortar fire. An anti-tank missile hit a bus that Hamas says was being used by Israeli soldiers. A soldier was severely wounded in the attack.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008, and protests and clashes along the Gaza border since March 30 have repeatedly raised fears of a fourth.