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.”


Libya recovers five bodies, picks up 185 migrants

A total of 900 migrants have been intercepted or rescued by the Libyan navy since Wednesday. (AFP/File)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Libya recovers five bodies, picks up 185 migrants

  • The bodies were recovered from an inflatable boat packed with migrants that got into trouble
  • Two coast guard patrols carried out different operations on Friday, picking up 91 migrants in one group and 94 in the second

Tripoli: Libyan coast guards have recovered the bodies of five migrants and picked up 185 survivors off its western coast, a spokesman said on Saturday.

The migrants, who were rescued about 24 km off the town of Qarabulli, were trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in two boats, the Libyan navy said Saturday. Those who lost their lives were from Sudan, Nigeria, Chad and Egypt.

The bodies were recovered from an inflatable boat packed with migrants that got into trouble, the coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.

A day earlier, three children and nine women were among 94 migrants rescued on Friday when their inflatable dinghy sank 12 nautical miles from Garabulli, east of the capital Tripoli.

“The migrants are from different sub-Saharan countries including three children and nine women,” he said.

Two coast guard patrols carried out different operations on Friday, picking up 91 migrants in one group and 94 in the second, Qassem said.

A total of 900 migrants have been intercepted or rescued by the Libyan navy since Wednesday as departures pick up due to favorable weather.

Usually in such cases the migrants are taken to detention centers pending repatriation.

Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants fleeing wars and poverty and trying to reach Europe, although the number of crossings has sharply dropped since last July due to a more active coast guard presence with support from the EU.

Libya descended into chaos following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with many armed groups and two administrations vying for power.

Most migrants try to head across the Mediterranean toward Italy, hoping they will be picked up by ships run by aid groups and taken there, although many drown before they are rescued.

Earlier this month, Italy’s anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, vowed to no longer let charity ships offload rescued migrants in Italy, leaving one ship stranded at sea for several days with more than 600 migrants until Spain offered them safe haven.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will try on Sunday to persuade other EU leaders to agree on a common policy on migrants, although her chances of winning support from all 28 member states are deemed slim.