Pompeo meets EU’s top diplomat after Pence’s Iran statement

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 February 2019

Pompeo meets EU’s top diplomat after Pence’s Iran statement

  • Mogherini helped seal the 2005 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers
  • Trump last year pulled the US out of the 2015 Iran deal

BRUSSELS: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the EU’s top diplomat in Brussels on Friday, a day after Vice President Mike Pence accused America’s traditional European allies of trying to undermine US sanctions against Iran.
The meeting with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, was scheduled before Pence’s rebuke of European powers during a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw on Thursday, which Mogherini missed, citing a scheduling conflict at NATO.
Mogherini, who helped seal the 2005 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, greeted Pence in front of a bank of cameras at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels before they headed into a conference room for the breakfast meeting, that was scheduled to last for about an hour.
Mogherini shook her head and waved off a question from the media about what she thought of Pence’s speech in Warsaw on Thursday, where he accused the European Union of trying to break the impact of US economic sanctions on Iran.
Pence’s unusually tough words for allies Germany, France and Britain reflect Washington’s strategy to try to isolate Iran, in remarks that were likely to further strain transatlantic relations.
Trump last year pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran deal, under which Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
On Thursday, speaking at NATO before Pence’s comments, Mogherini said the United States and the European Union had “different views” on the Iran nuclear deal and said upholding it was critical to European security because it prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
European countries say they share Washington’s concerns about Iran’s involvement in wars in Yemen and Syria but believe withdrawing from the nuclear deal was a mistake, and have promised to try to salvage the deal as long as Iran continues to abide by it. In practice, European companies have accepted new US sanctions on Iran and abandoned plans to invest there.
France, Germany and Britain agreed in January to open a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions, through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) meant to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods.
However, the trade vehicle will likely take months to become operational and diplomats said it will be used only for smaller trade, for example of humanitarian products or food .


Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.