Vatican renews call for 2-state solution to Mideast conflict

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Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 3, 2018. (Vatican Media/Handout via Reuters)
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Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
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Pope Francis speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the end of a private audience at the Vatican, on Dec. 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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Vatican renews call for 2-state solution to Mideast conflict

  • The Vatican has reaffirmed its longstanding call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • A Vatican statement said Jerusalem must remain a holy city for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

VATICAN CITY: The Vatican expressed concern over the status of Jerusalem on Monday as Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held their first meeting since the United States stirred international anxiety by moving its embassy there.
The two embraced and kissed on the cheek as the pontiff welcomed Abbas to a library in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for a private, 20-minute meeting.
“Particular attention was reserved for the status of Jerusalem, underlining the importance of recognizing and preserving its identity and the universal value of the holy City for the three Abrahamic religions,” a Vatican statement said, referring to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
US President Donald Trump outraged the Arab world and the international community last year when he reversed decades of policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and put Washington’s embassy there. It was opened in May.
Palestinians, with broad international backing, want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state, while Israel views the whole city its “united and eternal” capital.
The Vatican expressed concern last year at Trump’s move, saying the city’s “status quo” should be respected. Francis has called for all to honor UN resolutions on the city.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abbas briefed the pope on “the implications of the US decision.”
As Abbas was leaving the library, he told the pope: “We are counting on you.” It was not clear what he was referring to.
The Vatican backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with both sides agreeing on the status of Jerusalem as part of the peace process.
The statement said Abbas and the pope also discussed efforts to reactivate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and hoped for “a renewed commitment on the part of the international community to meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.”
They also urged an end to “extremism and fundamentalism” in the Middle East, and called for reconciliation among Palestinian factions.


UN envoy says ‘robust monitoring regime’ urgently needed in Yemen, Saudi hails Yemen accord

Updated 36 min 28 sec ago
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UN envoy says ‘robust monitoring regime’ urgently needed in Yemen, Saudi hails Yemen accord

  • The withdrawal of armed forces from the Yemeni port of Hodeidah will happen within days
  • Saudi Arabia says it is committed to reaching a political solution that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen

JEDDAH: UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths on Friday urged the creation of a “robust and competent monitoring regime” in war-ravaged Yemen, one day after fighting parties agreed to a cease-fire at a vital port.
“A robust and competent monitoring regime is not just essential. It is also urgently needed,” Griffiths told the Security Council, adding that “allowing the UN the lead role in the ports is the vital first step.”
If implemented, the deal on Hodeidah port, a key gateway for aid and food imports, could bring relief to a country where 14 million people stand on the brink of famine.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Friday hailed the accord reached at the UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden.
Yemen’s warring parties on Thursday agreed to a cease-fire on a vital port in a series of breakthroughs in the talks.
In a statement by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom backed “the agreements reached in Sweden in UN-sponsored talks between a delegation of Yemen’s legitimate government and the Houthi rebels,” the official SPA news agency reported.
“The Kingdom remains engaged in the search for a political solution in Yemen which guarantees the security and stability of the country,” the statement said.
The statement also called on the Iran-aligned Houthis to “embark on this path” toward a political solution.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry also said on Friday that it welcomed the agreement between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi militia. 
The ministry said that the Kingdom was committed to reaching a political solution that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen.
The handing over of the port of Hodeidah to the control of the United Nations will help to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, the ministry stressed.