Libya uncertainty key issue for El-Sisi during Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ahead of the Arab League Summit in Dhahran. AFP
Updated 16 April 2018
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Libya uncertainty key issue for El-Sisi during Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia

  • Haftar is important for Egypt because he believes in the Libyan unity
  • UN is leading efforts to reunify the country

CAIRO: Uncertainty in Libya and the deadlock in Palestinian reconciliation efforts will be the main concerns of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as he attends the Arab League Summit in Dhahran.
Buoyed by his recent resounding and controversial election victory, the Egyptian president will have much to discuss with Arab leaders.
Bassam Radi, a presidential spokesman, said El-Sisi would discuss with his Arab counterparts “important issues affecting Arab security” including developments in Syria, Yemen and Palestine.
El-Sisi’s prime concern is the situation in Libya, where fears are growing over the health of the military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar, one of Libya’s key power brokers, is being treated in Paris after feeling unwell during a foreign tour and is expected to return to Libya within days, Ahmed Al-Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), told Reuters on Saturday.
Rumors and contradictory reports about the seriousness of his condition swirled jn the Libyan media last week, especially as Haftar had not made any public appearances recently.
Haftar, 75, is the most powerful figure in eastern Libya and his LNA is aligned with a government based in the east which has opposed a rival government in the capital, Tripoli.
On Friday, UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame and several Libyan officials said they had spoken to Haftar by phone.
Haftar won the backing of Egypt when he arrived as a stabilizing force confronting Islamist and extremist forces in the country’s east, which borders Egypt.
El-Sisi met the head of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez Al-Sarraj in Dammam on Saturday and urged all the Libyan political factions to cooperate with the UN envoy to restore peace to the troubled state, according to presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi.
“This is the most important part of the Arab Summit agenda for Egypt since Libya’s situation affects the Egyptian national security. Egypt played a significant role and has invested politically to control the terrorist attacks on its Western borders,” said Mohamed Farahat, a political analyst.
“Haftar is important for Egypt because he believes in the Libyan unity and he also proposed a project to build the Libyan unified army and this is what makes him special as a leader.”
El-Sisi has also invested a lot of political capital in reconciling the two main warring Palestinian factions and a return to peace talks with Israel.
Abbas Kamel, senior political and security aide to El-Sisi, visited both Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority, and Tel Aviv last week to lay the groundwork for the Arab Summit to adopt a resolution expressing willingness to engage with a US peace plan.
The aim of the talks is not only to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to approve the launch of negotiations but to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint before what he sees as the perfect opportunity to deal a blow to Hezbollah and limit Iran’s presence in Syria.


Saudi tourism chief to open Korean culture expo this week

Head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, speaks during an interview with AFP at the commission's headquarters in Riyadh, on December 18, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 46 min 27 sec ago
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Saudi tourism chief to open Korean culture expo this week

  • The top diplomat said more than 440 Saudi students are currently studying in Korea

RIYADH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), and Prof. Bae Kidong, director general of the National Museum of Korea, will jointly inaugurate the first-ever exhibition of Korean history and culture on Dec. 19.
The three-month long cultural jamboree will feature glorious history and heritage of South Korea in the Kingdom.
“The SCTH and the Korean National Museum are jointly organizing this exhibition on Korean history and culture from Dec. 19, 2018, to March 15, 2019, in Riyadh,” said Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook. Jo said the exhibition is the continuation of a series of cultural exchanges between the two countries that started with the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition jointly organized by the SCTH and the Korean National Museum in Seoul last year.
The “Roads of Arabia” exhibition was a huge success that attracted tens of thousands of Koreans to Saudi history and culture, he added.
We expect the Korean culture and history exhibition in Riyadh to be equally successful,” said the envoy.
“The Korean exposition will promote the mutual understanding and goodwill between Korea and Saudi Arabia,” he said.
He said the total number of Saudis, who visited Korea in 2017 exceeded 11,300, which represents a marked increase over the past years.
“In fact, it is very encouraging to see more and more Saudis choose Korea as their destination for business, tourism, higher education, and health care,” he added.
The top diplomat said more than 440 Saudi students are currently studying in Korea.
Korea, he said, has played a key role in the development of the Kingdom’s infrastructure while Riyadh has been a stable energy supplier to Seoul.