Egypt says Dubai trader failed to deliver on contracted wheat shipments

Farmers harvest wheat at a farm on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 23 May 2018
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Egypt says Dubai trader failed to deliver on contracted wheat shipments

DUBAI/CAIRO: Dubai-based trader AOS, a leading supplier of wheat to Egypt, has failed to deliver two of its cargoes, Supply Minister Ali Moselhy told Reuters.
Moselhy, who is also chairman of Egypt’s state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), said AOS had been offered two extensions for the delayed cargoes of about 120,000 tons of wheat but still failed to supply them.
AOS declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
“They (AOS) have failed to deliver two cargoes, there were delays and we arranged new timings for them ... but they did not execute,” Moselhy said. “They are now outside of their contractual terms (with GASC).”
He declined to provide details of the cargoes, including country of origin, and did not specify their value.
Egypt baffled grain traders last week by holding an international purchase tender for wheat, in which GASC bought 60,000 tons despite a plentiful local harvest that would normally mark a pause in imports until around July.
The tender raised questions over why Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, needed to buy cargoes at a time of high prices as the season for Black Sea wheat neared its close.
The missing AOS cargoes could force Egypt to tap global markets sooner than expected to maintain reserves of the grain, which the government considers politically sensitive for its role in supplying the country’s bread subsidy program.
Egypt has operated a massive bread subsidy system since the 1960s, which no Egyptian leader has been able to modify due to fears of unrest like the 1977 bread riots.
AOS Chairman Mohamed Al-Naqbi said last November that the trader supplies Egypt with about 20 percent of the country’s annual grain needs, including 700,000 tons of wheat to GASC and 1.7 million tons to the private market.
The Egyptian government spends about $1.5 billion annually on state wheat imports.


Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

Russian soldiers distribute aid in the central Syrian province of Homs. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

  • A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west
  • The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry said it was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home and rebuild the country’s infrastructure destroyed by the civil war.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria’s power stations, schools and other vital institutions.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the regime would protect refugee property rights and grant returning refugees a year’s deferral from military conscription.
“The Syrian government is working to simplify procedures for refugees who return, repair housing and try to create new jobs,” Makhlouf said, adding that the authorities were also working to streamline legislation to facilitate refugee returns.
He dismissed as hostile “propaganda” claims that some refugees were facing arrests on their return.
Makhlouf called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus, introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.
Mizintsev said that over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin might take part in a summit with the leaders of Turkey and Iran at the beginning of September.
The three leaders met in April at a summit in Ankara where they discussed developments in Syria.
With help from its Russian ally, President Bashar Assad’s regime has expelled fighters from large parts of Syria’s south since June.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence along its border. A series of airstrikes that killed Iranians inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.
A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west.
The Russian army’s Lt.-Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters on an organized press tour this week how “stability” had returned to the buffer zone.
Apart from “a few problems with Daesh” in its southern tip, the demilitarized zone was “entirely under control of Syrian military police,” Kuralenko said.
“Everything is ready” for the return of UN troops, he said, after the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 2014.
After retaking most of the two southern provinces adjacent to the buffer zone, regime forces last month raised their flag inside, above the key border crossing of Quneitra.
The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone, Kuralenko said, and plan to set up four more in the near future.
They are “willing to hand them over to the UN if it says it is ready to ensure the monitoring of the Golan alone,” he said.