China’s Xi arrives in the UAE for state visit

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President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)
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President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)
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President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)
Updated 19 July 2018
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China’s Xi arrives in the UAE for state visit

  • His appointments during the three days include a series of high-level meetings with his Emirati counterparts
  • The UAE and China established diplomatic relations in November 1984

DUBAI: President Xi Jinping arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for a three-day visit, after the announcement of oil and trade deals between China and the UAE.
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said he was "delighted" to welcome Xi, posting photos on Twitter of the Chinese president receiving flowers on landing in the emirate.
"This is a historic visit and represents a new stage of cooperation in all fields, which will bring growth, development and prosperity to the people of our nations," said the crown prince of the UAE capital.
Abu Dhabi is the first stop on Xi's tour, which also includes Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa.
The Chinese president's arrival followed the Gulf state earlier on Thursday publishing details of new deals clinched with Beijing.
State-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. said it had awarded two contracts worth $1.6 billion (1.4 billion euros) to BGP Inc., a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Co., for a seismic survey in the emirate.
The survey is to search for oil and gas in onshore and offshore sites covering an area of 53,000 square kilometres (20,463 square miles), the statement said.
State-run CNPC already has two concession rights contracts with ADNOC worth around $3 billion.
The UAE's state-owned DP World also announced an agreement by the two countries to build a new trade zone in Dubai.
The deal between the global port operator and the Zhejiang China Commodities City Group will see a "traders' market" built at Dubai's Jebel Ali free zone.
The project is part of China's trillion-dollar "One Belt, One Road" infrastructure initiative, an ambitious plan to revive the ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways.
The new facility will cover three square kilometres at the Jebel Ali site, which is the Middle East's largest trade zone, DP World said in a statement.
The market will host a vast range of goods from food and cosmetics to building materials and technology.
DP World, which operates in 40 countries, did not announce the value of the deal or provide a timeframe for its construction.
China is the United Arab Emirates' top trading partner, with non-oil trade in 2017 rising 15 percent year-on-year to over $53.3 billion -- more than 90 percent of it Chinese exports to the UAE, according to Abu Dhabi's finance ministry.
The UAE is also one of the top 15 crude suppliers to China, exporting some $4 billion worth of oil to Beijing last year. Ninety-six percent of the country's oil reserves are located in Abu Dhabi.
In a further sign of strengthening ties between the two countries, Dubai-based real estate developer Emaar Properties on Wednesday announced plans to build the Middle East's largest Chinatown in the UAE.


Hamas pledges Gaza rocket fire probe as calm returns

Updated 18 October 2018
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Hamas pledges Gaza rocket fire probe as calm returns

  • Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for a decade, issued a joint statement with its ally Islamic Jihad publicly disavowing the rocket fire
  • The risk of a new war, whether through miscalculation or design, remained

GAZA: Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas on Thursday pledged to launch an investigation into rocket fire at Israel the previous day, in an apparent bid to calm fears of a new war.
Israeli children returned to schools near the border with the Palestinian territory that had been closed on Wednesday after the pre-dawn rocket fire from Gaza badly damaged a family home in the southern city of Beersheba.
But the risk of a new war, whether through miscalculation or design, remained.
Three children had a narrow escape after their mother moved them into the safe room, as much of the rest of the house was destroyed, the army said.
Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for a decade, issued a joint statement with its ally Islamic Jihad publicly disavowing the rocket fire.
But Israel rejected their denial, saying they were the only groups armed with rockets of a range sufficient to reach Beersheba — 40 kilometers (25 miles) away — and the sea off Tel Aviv — 70 kilometers (45 miles).
Israel in any case holds Hamas responsible, as Gaza’s de factor ruler, for all fire from the territory regardless of who launches it.
“There are security service investigations in Gaza to uncover who is behind the rocket fire and there will be harsh measures against those (found guilty),” senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP.
He said the rocket fire “aimed to sabotage Egyptian efforts” to broker a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel, which have fought three wars since 2008.
A video published by Hamas’s military wing on Thursday showed militants preparing rockets for launch, with the caption: “Read us correctly, a mistake would not benefit,” written in Hebrew.
Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, while one Israeli soldier has been shot dead.
Wednesday’s rocket fire triggered retaliatory Israeli air strikes that killed one suspected militant and raised fears of a new escalation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chaired a meeting of the security cabinet lasting several hours on Wednesday evening.
But no statement was released afterwards and Israeli media reported that ministers had failed to agree on how to respond to the rocket fire and the persistent protests.
The mass circulation Yediot Aharonot newspaper said the swift action of the mother in Beersheba to protect her family had probably prevented a new war.
“If the rocket attack had resulted in casualties, the political echelon’s manoeuvring room would have been reduced to zero, and Israel would have launched, just like it did four years ago, a military operation that it neither wants nor which it believes will be effective.”
Hamas seized control of Gaza from loyalists of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a near civil war in 2007 and the split has made peace negotiations with Israel harder.
Egypt and the UN have been seeking to broker an agreement that would see Israel relax its blockade of Gaza in exchange for a prolonged period of calm from Hamas.
Abbas’s Fatah movement opposes any such deal, saying it amounts to a recognition of Islamist control in Gaza.
Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel had been expected in Gaza on Thursday for his first visit since taking up the post in January, fueling talk of a deal.
Hamas official Naim said the minister was forced to postpone because of a timetabling problem.
But an Egyptian delegation led by senior intelligence official Ayman Badea did travel to Gaza and met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
An Egyptian official told AFP they were still hopeful of achieving a long-term deal to restore calm.
Egypt is one of only two Arab states to have official relations with Israel and plays a key role in indirect negotiations between the Jewish state and Hamas.
Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a political analyst in Gaza, said those who fired the rockets wanted to prevent the Egyptian minister’s visit and “stop reconciliation and a truce.”
Fringe Islamist groups opposed to Hamas have previously fired rockets. Suspicion could also fall on factions within Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposed to a truce deal.