World leaders remember ‘Islam-West mediator’ Abdullah

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Updated 24 January 2015
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World leaders remember ‘Islam-West mediator’ Abdullah

RIYADH: World leaders paid tribute to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday, praising the late ruler as a key mediator between Muslims and the West.
US President Barack Obama said he and Abdullah, whose country has for decades been a strategic ally of Washington, had enjoyed a “genuine and warm friendship.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Abdullah, who died in a Riyadh hospital earlier the same day, as a “wise politician.”
Iran sent condolences to the Saudi people and announced its foreign minister would travel to Riyadh for an “official ceremony” this weekend.
Abdullah, who officially took power in 2005, guided the Kingdom through a turbulent decade in the region, with neighbors Iraq and Yemen wracked with insecurity after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and the growth of Islamic radicalism.
French President Francois Hollande said Abdullah’s vision of “a fair and durable peace in the Middle East remains truer than ever.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised the late king as “an ardent defender of peace.”
And the foreign ministry in Spain hailed Abdullah as “a respected figure throughout the Middle East for his willingness to help resolve conflicts.”
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron said the Saudi ruler would be remembered for “his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”
Prince Charles of Wales is to travel to Riyadh as The Queen’s representative to pay his respects, the royal’s office said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Abdullah’s rule had been “fair and moderate,” praising him for aiding “dialogue between the Muslim world and the West.”
In the Middle East, Lebanon, which has close ties with Riyadh, spoke of losing “a defender and a partner” who had stood by Beirut “in difficult times.”
Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the king “ensured... support for causes of justice, peace and development in the Arab, Muslim and entire world.”
His country joined Algeria and Mauritania in announcing three days of mourning, while Cairo said its official grieving would run for a whole week.
Several leaders cut short overseas trips to travel to Riyadh and pay their respects.
Jordan’s King Abdallah II left the World Economic Forum in Davos, organizers said, before declaring 40 days of mourning for the late Saudi king.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin praised Abdullah as an “exemplary leader... with sound judgment.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared three days of mourning, describing the late monarch as a “sage.”
“With much sadness, we received the news of the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, a loss to the Arab and Islamic world,” Abbas said in a statement.
President Recip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said Abdullah had contributed “to strengthening cooperation and solidarity in the Muslim world, especially concerning the Palestinian question and the situation in Syria.”
At the Asian Cup in Australia, the national football team of the United Arab Emirates donned black armbands for their match against Japan.
Malaysian Prime Minister Rajib Razak called Abdullah a “great leader for his initiative for inter-religious dialogue,” and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pointed to Saudi involvement in his country’s peace negotiations.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, paid tribute to a man who “brought prosperity and reforms to his nation.”


Spain threatens to send national police to Catalonia after protests

Updated 11 December 2018
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Spain threatens to send national police to Catalonia after protests

MADRID: Spain’s interior minister said he would send national police to Catalonia if local authorities did not do more to stop protests like the one that shut down major highways over the weekend.
Fernando Grande-Marlaska accused the local Catalan police of doing nothing to prevent pro-independence protesters blocking the AP-7 toll road, which runs up Spain’s Mediterranean coast, for more than 15 hours on Saturday.
The involvement of national police would be a contentious issue in the northeastern region which has its own administration and where polls suggest almost half the population wants to split away from Spain.
It would also stir memories of Madrid’s decision to send in a large contingent of national police in September last year after the Catalan government called an illegal independence referendum.
“Serious disruptions of public order and traffic security, such as those seen in the last few days, need to be dealt with by the regional police,” the minister wrote to his regional counterpart in an open letter late on Monday.
“If this does not happen ... the government will order an intervention by the state police,” he added.
Catalonia’s government would respond to the questions raised in the letter, spokeswoman Elsa Artadi said on Tuesday, without saying when or going into further detail. She repeated calls for dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona.
Spain’s previous conservative government took control of the region when the regional administration unilaterally declared independence following the Oct. 1, 2017 referendum.
Many of the Catalan politicians that took part in the declaration are in prison awaiting trial for rebellion or in exile.
Spain’s new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez — who came to power in June — has said he is open to a referendum on greater autonomy and has promised to lay out detailed plans in parliament on Wednesday.
But Grande-Marlaska said the local authorities had to show they could keep order and prevent a repeat of Saturday’s protests.
“It was observed that there was no intervention (by the regional police) ... a reality that is difficult to deny,” he said in a radio interview on Tuesday morning.