EU nations mull expelling Russian diplomats after spy attack

Britain’s Prime minister Theresa May (L) arrives at the European Council headquarter on the second day of a summit of European Union (EU) leaders on March 23, 2018, in Brussels. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2018
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EU nations mull expelling Russian diplomats after spy attack

BRUSSELS: The leaders of several EU countries said they are mulling whether to expel Russian diplomats or take other steps to support Britain following a nerve agent attack on a former spy.
European Union leaders returned to summit talks on Friday after uniting behind British Prime Minister Theresa May in blaming Russia for the attack in England, and agreeing to recall the bloc’s ambassador to Moscow for consultations.
Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats they said were spies, and has been pressing EU allies to follow suit despite Moscow’s warning against confrontational steps.
The leaders of former communist member states the Czech Republic and Lithuania as well as Denmark and Ireland said they were considering further unilateral steps, including expelling diplomats.
“I think national measures will be applied already starting from next week... from a lot of countries,” Lithuania’s outspoken President Dalia Grybauskaite said before joining the second and last day of the summit in Brussels.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told the CTK news agency that Prague may expel several Russian diplomats over the poisoining of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
“Yes, we will probably move in this direction,” Babis said, adding he will discuss expulsions with his cabinet members on Monday.
Ireland’s Prime Minisster Leo Varadkar said his government would decide early next week whether to expel diplomats following a security assessment.
“We are not going to randomly expel people who are genuine diplomats,” Varadkar told reporters.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said his government heard the “strong signal” from the bloc’s leaders who agreed with Britain’s assessment that Russia was to blame for the attack.
He said he would hold consultations with members of his government.
“My government will then in the next coming days very seriously consider to take further steps,” Rasmussen said.
A French presidency source said Thursday that Paris was also ready to act.
The poisoning has heightened worries across Europe about Russian meddling — from repeated cyberattacks to what the EU has called an “orchestrated strategy” of disinformation aimed at destabilising the bloc.
During a visit to Hanoi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that British officials “are feverishly trying to force allies to take confrontational steps.”
Lavrov, quoted by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, said London was trying to make the “crisis as deep as possible.”


KSRelief to provide 5,000 Yemenis with school supplies

Saudi Arabia is ranked the first donor in the world when it comes to humanitarian financial and logistical support in Yemen. AFP
Updated 18 min 15 sec ago
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KSRelief to provide 5,000 Yemenis with school supplies

  • There are two million Yemeni children out of school because of the Houthis’ aggression against civilians
  • The total cost of all the projects provided by KSRelief since its establishment is $70 million

JEDDAH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has launched a project to provide Yemeni students and schools with supplies to ensure that education continues across the country despite the brutal acts of militants. The trucks started to carrying the aid from Riyadh to Yemen on Monday.

“It is a project to provide Yemen’s schools with the essential needs to ensure a better and smoother educational environment, such as chairs, desks, and boards, in addition to students’ supplies. It will support nearly 5,000 students across Yemen,” said Dr. Samer Aljetaily, spokesman for KSRelief.
“The trucks will arrive first in Ma’arib, then it will be distributed to the most needed areas across the country’s schools and students.”
“My Education” is one of the big projects given to support Yemen’s people in health, shelter, infrastructure, environment and education to help the country stand on its feet regardless of any devastation caused by the militants.
“The total cost of all the projects provided by KSRelief since its establishment is $70 million. In terms of education, the center has given financial aid to schools, paid teachers’ salaries, and provided students’ essential school needs and meals. We will continue supporting our brothers and sisters in Yemen in all sectors.”
This project has been supported by the Saudi Ministry of Education and the Saudi-led Islamic Military Coalition. “The coalition always supports our all initiatives in the interest of Yemeni citizens. The coalition will protect the aid till it arrives in Ma’arib, then it will support logistically to facilitate the distribution of the supplies. Education is a priority for the Saudi government and for KSRelief.
“We have always supported education in Yemen and always will, whether it is for schools, educational institutions, students, teachers, or even educational curricular and psychological support departments to help students become better amid all the horrific acts caused by the Houthis. KSRelief is very keen on building a strong future with a well-educated generation of Yemenis.”
Asked whether there is a lack of international support for Yemen, he told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, has attracted global attention to Yemen’s humanitarian status in different ways, including direct funding for the infrastructure of the country and huge support for health, education and the environment. Saudi Arabia is ranked the first donor in the world when it comes to humanitarian, financial and logistical support in Yemen. This has encouraged other countries’ support as well.
“The UAE has greatly supported the Yemen humanitarian file with $1 billion. The international community has reacted to this.
“However, there must be more international collaboration to reduce the militants’ attacks on the aid and supplies and facilitate the entry of aid and ensure a higher level of safety. There is also need for better cooperation to protect students and children in the militants’ controlled areas,” he emphasized.
“The Saudi Ministry of Education has supported this initiative by providing school supplies and students’ essential supplies.”
There are two million Yemeni children out of school because of the Houthis’ aggression against civilians.