Leader of militant Hamas leaves Gaza for talks in Egypt

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh left Friday for Egypt, two days after Cairo opened the crossing temporarily. (Reuters)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Leader of militant Hamas leaves Gaza for talks in Egypt

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: The leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas that rules Gaza has left the blockaded territory for talks in neighboring Egypt after the country opened its border for a few days.
The group said in a statement that Ismail Haniyeh left Friday, two days after Egypt opened the crossing temporarily.
It said the visit aims to discuss Gaza’s economic crisis “that put Gaza on the edge of the abyss.”
Talks will also cover obstacles stalling a Palestinian unity deal with the Palestinian government in the West Bank, it said.
To the frustration of thousands of Palestinians wishing to leave Gaza, Egypt shut the frontier after the Hamas delegation crossed and its military began an anti-insurgent operation nearby.
Egypt has kept Rafah mostly closed since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007.


Lavrov says Russia has invited Syria's Assad to visit Russia and Crimea - Interfax

Updated 2 min 43 sec ago
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Lavrov says Russia has invited Syria's Assad to visit Russia and Crimea - Interfax

LONDON: Russia has invited Syrian President Bashar Assad to visit Russia, including Crimea, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to Interfax.
“The head of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, recently visited Damascus on the invitation of President Assad.
He naturally conveyed, in line with normal diplomatic practices, an invitation to President Assad from the Russian leadership to visit the Russian Federation, including Crimea,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Euronews television channel.

 

Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday that Assad has tentative plans to visit Crimea in April 2019 and is in talks about starting regular passenger flights between Syria and the Black Sea peninsula,

Crimea has been under Western sanctions since it was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014.
Russia is a key ally of Assad in Syria’s seven-year long conflict and the leaders of two other Russia-backed breakaway regions, Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia, also visited Damascus this year.