Saudi Arabia, Arab nations join world in mourning death of Britain’s Prince Philip

Saudi Arabia, Arab nations join world in mourning death of Britain’s Prince Philip
Philip, who was by the queen’s side for nearly eight decades, retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 96. (Reuters/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 09 April 2021

Saudi Arabia, Arab nations join world in mourning death of Britain’s Prince Philip

Saudi Arabia, Arab nations join world in mourning death of Britain’s Prince Philip
  • King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman send cables to queen and Prince Charles
  • UAE, Bahrain and Oman also sent messages of condolence to Queen Elizabeth.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent their condolences to the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II and Charles, Prince of Wales, on Friday after the passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, aged 99.

“We have received with great sadness the news of the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and we express to Your Majesty, the royal family and the friendly people of the United Kingdom our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy,” the king said in a cable to Britain’s queen. 

Cables were sent separately to the queen and the Prince of Wales.

The UAE, Bahrain and Oman also sent messages of condolence to Queen Elizabeth.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan sent a cable of condolences to the Queen, expressing his heartfelt condolences and solace to the monarch.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi also sent similar cables of condolences.

Sheikh Mohammed sent a personal message on Twitter, saying: “On behalf of people of UAE, I extend my sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth II & the people of United Kingdom over the demise of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A close friend to the UAE & other nations, he will always be remembered for his devotion to his country and people.”

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa extended his deepest condolences and consolation to Queen Elizabeth, as well as to the British government and people, and lauded the efforts of Prince Philip to serve the UK and its friendly people.

“His Majesty the Sultan, Haitham bin Tarik sent a cable of condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the President of the Commonwealth, on the death of her husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” a statement issued by Oman News Agency said.

Here are reactions from major public figures in Britain and around the world:

UK PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON
“We remember the Duke ... above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen, not just as her consort, by her side, every day of her reign, but as her husband, has strength and stay of more than 70 years. And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.”
“Like the expert carriage driver that he was he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.”

JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
“I join with the rest of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, and give thanks to God for his extraordinary life of dedicated service.”
“On the occasions when I met him, I was always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.”

UK OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY LEADER KEIR STARMER
“The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip.”
“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country — from a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the Second World War to his decades of service as the Duke of Edinburgh.”
“However, he will be remembered most of all for his extraordinary commitment and devotion to The Queen.”

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON
“I am saddened by news that the Duke of Edinburgh has died. I send my personal and deepest condolences — and those of @scotgov and the people of Scotland — to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.”

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI
“He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul rest in peace.”

PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER IMRAN KHAN

“My condolences on the demise of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Britain has lost a wise elder who was imbued with a unique spirit of public service. His role in promoting Pakistan-UK relations will always be remembered.”

IRISH PRIME MINISTER MICHEAL MARTIN
“Saddened to hear of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with Queen Elizabeth and the people of the United Kingdom at this time.”

SINN FEIN LEADER MARY LOU MCDONALD
“Sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth and family on the death of her husband Prince Phillip. Sympathies to those of a British identity on our island, for whom his death will be felt as a great loss.”

US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND FIRST LADY JILL BIDEN

The American president and his wife said the impact of the prince’s decades of public service was evident in the causes he advocated. 

FORMER US PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“Throughout his long and remarkable life, he devoted himself to worthy causes and to others. He represented the United Kingdom with dignity and brought boundless strength and support to the sovereign. Laura and I are fortunate to have enjoyed the charm and wit of his company, and we know how much he will be missed.”

FORMER US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

“Through his extraordinary example, His Royal Highness Prince Philip proved that true partnership has room for both ambition and selflessness — all in service of something greater. Our thoughts are with Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Family, and the British people.”

US HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI

“The US Congress extends condolences over the death of Britain’s Prince Philip.”

FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR
“He will naturally be most recognized as a remarkable and steadfast support to the Queen over so many years. However, he should also be remembered and celebrated in his own right as a man of foresight, determination and courage.”

NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN
“Prince Philip will be fondly remembered for the encouragement he gave to so many young New Zealanders through The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award. In over fifty years of The Award in New Zealand, thousands of young people have completed life-changing challenges through the program.”

KING HARALD OF NORWAY
“Our thoughts are with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of her family. We also send our condolences to the British people.”

KING KARL XVI GUSTAF OF SWEDEN
“Prince Philip has been a great friend of our family for many years, a relation which we have deeply valued. His service to his country will remain an inspiration to us all.”

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

“The death of Prince Philip fills me with great sorrow. His friendship to Germany, his straightforwardness and his sense of duty will not be forgotten.”

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON

“I wish to express my sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Family and the British people upon the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip who lived an exemplary life defined by bravery, a sense of duty and commitment to the youth and the environment.”

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU

“Prince Philip was a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with Britain’s Royal Family and the British people at this time of mourning.”

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU

“Prince Philip was the consummate public servant and will be much missed in Israel and across the world.”

BELGIAN ROYAL PALACE

“We wish to express our deepest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, the British Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom. Philippe and Mathilde.”

UN SECRETARY GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES

“He was known for his dedication to charitable causes as a patron of some 800 organizations, in particular those focused on the environment, industry, sport and education.”

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, said: “The Secretary-General is saddened at the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He extends condolences to Her Royal Highness, the Queen, and to the people of the United Kingdom.

“As royal consort, the Duke of Edinburgh capably supported the Queen in her duties as sovereign for over 60 years. He was known for his dedication to charitable causes as a patron of some 800 organizations, in particular those focused on the environment, industry, sport and education.

“The Secretary-General pays tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh for his active work for the betterment of humankind.”

PHILIP'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY JAMES ROSCOE

“From military to youth clubs to DoE award recipients, his interest in people & their stories was real, his motivation always encouraging service in other by example. No nonsense, genuine wit: peace maybe, but he won't rest.”


Philippines’ Duterte bans officials from speaking on South China Sea

Philippines’ Duterte bans officials from speaking on South China Sea
Updated 54 min 25 sec ago

Philippines’ Duterte bans officials from speaking on South China Sea

Philippines’ Duterte bans officials from speaking on South China Sea
  • ‘This is my order now to the cabinet... to refrain (from) discussing this West Philippine Sea (issue) with... anybody’

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned his cabinet from speaking out in public on the South China Sea dispute, after key ministers engaged in a war of words with Beijing.
Tensions between Manila and Beijing over the waterway – which China claims almost entirely – flared in March after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
While Duterte has been reluctant to confront China over the issue, his foreign and defense secretaries have repeatedly criticized Beijing for its refusal to withdraw the ships from the disputed waters.
Earlier this month, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin tweeted an expletive-tagged demand for the Chinese vessels to leave the area.
His online swearing prompted a rebuke from Beijing and Locsin later apologized to his Chinese counterpart.
“This is my order now to the cabinet... to refrain (from) discussing this West Philippine Sea (issue) with... anybody,” Duterte said in a recorded speech late Monday, using the local name for the sea.
“If we have to talk, we talk only among us,” Duterte told several cabinet members, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who previously described the presence of Chinese boats as an “incursion.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque was allowed to address the issue in public, Duterte added.
China has ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the South China Sea to be without basis.
Duterte has set aside the ruling in exchange for promises of trade and investment from China that critics say have largely not materialized.


India reports record for single-day coronavirus deaths

India reports record for single-day coronavirus deaths
Updated 18 May 2021

India reports record for single-day coronavirus deaths

India reports record for single-day coronavirus deaths
  • India has recorded nearly 280,000 virus deaths since the pandemic began
  • The government on Monday announced that 17 new labs will help track variants

NEW DELHI: India’s total virus cases since the pandemic began swept past 25 million as the country registered more than 260,000 new cases and a record 4,329 fatalities in the last 24 hours.
The numbers reported Tuesday follow a trend of falling cases after infections dipped below 300,000 for the first time in weeks a day earlier.
Active cases in the country also decreased by more than 165,000 on Tuesday – the biggest dip in weeks. But deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still swamped by patients.
India has recorded nearly 280,000 virus deaths since the pandemic began. Both the number of deaths and total reported cases are thought to be vast undercounts.
The government on Monday announced that 17 new labs will help track variants, boosting India’s genome sequencing abilities as concern grows over a potentially worrisome variant first detected here. The variant may spread more easily but the country has lagged behind in doing the testing needed to track it and understand it better.
The variant first identified in India has prompted global concern – most notably in Britain, where it has more than doubled in a week, defying a sharp nationwide downward trend in infections.


127 missing after vessel sinks in India cyclone: navy

127 missing after vessel sinks in India cyclone: navy
Updated 18 May 2021

127 missing after vessel sinks in India cyclone: navy

127 missing after vessel sinks in India cyclone: navy
  • The vessel was carrying 273 people when it started drifting on Monday

MUMBAI: Some 127 people were missing Tuesday after a vessel adrift off Mumbai’s coast sank during Cyclone Tauktae, the Indian navy said as two ships and helicopters were deployed to assist in the search.
The vessel was carrying 273 people when it started drifting on Monday as strong winds battered India’s western coast, sending huge waves crashing onto its shores and turning roads into rivers.


Hong Kong temporarily suspends operations at representative office in Taiwan

Hong Kong temporarily suspends operations at representative office in Taiwan
Updated 18 May 2021

Hong Kong temporarily suspends operations at representative office in Taiwan

Hong Kong temporarily suspends operations at representative office in Taiwan
  • Tensions between the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government and Taiwan have risen since pro-democracy protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s representative office in Taiwan has temporarily suspended operations, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said on Tuesday, adding only that the decision was not related to the rise in coronavirus cases there.
Tensions between the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government and Taiwan have risen since pro-democracy protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019 and China imposed a sweeping national security law last year to quell the unrest, prompting many activists to leave the city.
Taipei has criticized the law and opened a local office to help people who may want to leave Hong Kong.
Last year, Taiwanese officials in Hong Kong were told their visas would not be renewed unless they signed a document supporting Beijing’s claim to Taiwan under its “one China” policy, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Hong Kong’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau announced the decision to suspend the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan without providing an explanation. It said requests for assistance would be handled through hotlines and via the Hong Kong government website.
“The suspension is not related to the pandemic situation in Taiwan. We do not have anything further to add,” a Hong Kong government spokesperson said.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it was working on a response on the matter.


Afghan Taliban ready for talks — on one condition

Afghan Taliban ready for talks — on one condition
Updated 18 May 2021

Afghan Taliban ready for talks — on one condition

Afghan Taliban ready for talks — on one condition
  • Group insists final negotiations to end Afghanistan war are held in Doha

KABUL: Afghan Taliban delegates were on Monday reportedly ready to take part in US-sponsored talks with the Kabul government in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

A Taliban spokesman confirmed the negotiators’ position, making a U-turn on the group’s recent decision to boycott the long-awaited discussions.

Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News: “The talks should not pave the ground for interference from any side.

“This matter is under deliberation ... we, without doubt, say that the Istanbul meeting should be conducted in conformity with the wishes of the Afghan people and should have no imposition aspect.”

However, he said that the final negotiations should be held in Doha, Qatar where both sides resumed stalled discussions on the peace process several days ago.

“This is an opportunity for peace, and we will participate in it on the basis of our conditions ... continuation of the talks in Doha is a good point for ending the war,” he added.

The development follows the group’s decision to snub the Turkey talks after American President Joe Biden said he would be extending the US-led foreign troops’ presence in Afghanistan until Sept. 11.

Initially, all troops were to have left the country by May 1 based on a key condition for a landmark accord signed between the Taliban and US delegates in Doha more than a year ago.

Mujahid did not elaborate on the conditions for the talks to resume and said that the Taliban leadership was “pondering over them.”

He pointed out that the two conditions demanded by the group for participation in future discussions included the “release of the remaining 7,000 Taliban inmates held by Kabul and delisting of their leaders from the UN blacklist.”

Mujahid added that the Taliban had discussed the conditions with Washington which had “pledged to facilitate” the group on both issues, although no date had yet been set for the talks. Fatima Morchal, a spokesperson for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, welcomed the news.

HIGHLIGHT

A Taliban spokesman confirmed the negotiators’ position, making a U-turn on the group’s recent decision to boycott the long-awaited discussions.

“It is a good thing; we have always said we will participate. The agenda and timing of the meeting have yet to be finalized, and we will attend it,” she told Arab News.

The Istanbul talks were rescheduled for April 24, before the Taliban announced that they would not participate in any meetings on Afghan peace until all foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

Under Biden’s announcement, US-led troops will leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending the most protracted conflict in America’s history, which began nearly 20 years ago with the Taliban’s ousting in 2001.

The group has accused Washington of breaching the deal by delaying the troops’ exit, resulting in an escalation of violence across Afghanistan – with hundreds of lives lost, including civilians – which both the Taliban and the Kabul government have blamed each other for.

Fighting resumed on Monday in a number of major Afghan provinces at the end of a three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban during the Eid-Al-Fitr holiday.

Two weeks ago, US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of the Doha deal with the Taliban, warned that Washington would abandon its push to form an interim government to replace Ghani if the Taliban insisted on boycotting the Istanbul talks.

The Istanbul meeting, under the auspices of the UN, seeks to draw a roadmap to end more than four decades of conflict in Afghanistan, ahead of the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

Wahidullah Ghazikhail, a Kabul-based political analyst, told Arab News that recently Washington had “secretly shown flexibility to the Taliban” on the date of departure for the remaining troops and could “complete the pullout process either in June or July.”

The Taliban, in return, had to “express leniency for attending the Istanbul meeting,” he said.

“The Taliban would have been blamed by ordinary Afghans for refusing to participate in the Istanbul talks. They now have a condition, want to begin the initial talks in Istanbul, but that the serious decisions and last decisive decisions be taken in Doha,” Ghazikhail added.

Torek Farhadi, an adviser for former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, told Arab News: “The Taliban are making sure they have a diplomatic presence in the (Istanbul) talks because the process of delisting them from the UN sanctions list requires to continue talks and for freeing their 7,000 prisoners.”

He said that Kabul also wanted to attend the Istanbul meeting to “give people hope that peace talks are continuing,” but added that in reality “the positions are so far apart that peace talks might continue for years. Both sides are preparing for more war. But it is clear that both sides have actors in the peace theaters as well … the sad part is civilians will suffer.”