Saudi envoy clears the air over ‘misleading’ media reports

Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Khalidi
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Updated 08 July 2020

Saudi envoy clears the air over ‘misleading’ media reports

  • Al-Khalidi says his discussions with the Afghan Senate chief ‘misinterpreted’

KABUL: Saudi Ambassador to Afghanistan Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Khalidi said on Tuesday that the Kingdom has made no new pledges of financial aid to the war-torn country following talks with Afghan Senate chief Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, putting to rest media reports which claimed otherwise.

“I gave him a review of what we have been doing in terms of our development projects in Afghanistan. There has been no new pledge at all, he misunderstood this,” Al-Khalidi told Arab News.

The meeting between Muslimyar and Al-Khalidi took place on Sunday.

Hours after the meeting, a Senate statement reported Saudi pledges of “$30 million for constructing a hospital in Kabul,” plans to “build 100 madrasas,” and an allocation of “$54 million for Afghanistan’s fight against coronavirus.”

Several local media outlets reported the news, quoting the Senate as a source. When contacted by Arab News on Tuesday, both the Saudi Embassy in Kabul and Muslimyar were unavailable for comment.

Muslimyar’s office, however, referred to a statement posted on the Senate’s Facebook page, which issued a correction.

“There was a misunderstanding during the translation with regards to some words, particularly on the issue of building of 100 madrasas,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Saudi embassy said on Twitter on Monday that the meeting had “focused exclusively on issues related to improving bilateral relations between the two countries.”

It added: “The embassy would like to stress that some media reporting on this meeting made reference to issues that were not discussed. We urge all media outlets to verify the source of their reporting and to make sure that their accounts are accurate prior to publication.”


Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

Updated 1 min 34 sec ago

Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

  • Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election
  • Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year

MOSCOW: A Russian diplomat said on Monday a group of more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus last week were only passing through Minsk and were on their way to an unnamed Latin American state.
Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election.
Russian officials have dismissed the accusation and described the men as employees of a private security firm. The Russian state says it does not use mercenaries.
The standoff could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia, which soured after the neighbors failed to agree on an oil supply contract for this year.
“Their final destination was one of the states in the Latin American region,” the diplomat, Kirill Pletnyev, was quoted as saying on Monday by the Russian RIA news agency.
Belarus granted Pletnyev consular access to the detained men, RIA added. His quotes did not name the Latin American country or give any more details on the identity of the men.
Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year, describing them as military specialists.
On Friday, Alexander Agafonov, the head of the Belarusian investigative group that is handling the case, said the arrested men — some of whom were wearing army fatigues — had given “contradictory accounts” about their plans.
He was quoted as saying that 11 of the arrested men had told authorities they planned to fly on to Venezuela, 15 to Turkey, two to Cuba and one to Syria. Another said he did not know his destination, while three refused to make a statement.
Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has said he wants a full explanation from Russia, faces his biggest electoral test in years on Aug. 9 as public anger swells over his handling of COVID-19, the economy and human rights.