Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow

Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry shake hands as they leave a joint news conference following talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP)
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Updated 04 October 2021

Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow

Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow
  • The two foreign ministers covered Syria, Palestine, Libya and the Renaissance Dam issue

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, have discussed developments in several regional issues, including the Renaissance Dam project and the crises in Libya and Syria, at a meeting in Moscow.

Shoukry said the talks covered efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and strengthening the two-state solution, and sponsoring all means to reach a permanent, comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian issue that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“I thank Russia for the support that Egypt has received from its side to address this issue in the (UN) Security Council, and we look forward to cooperating with Moscow on this issue, and reaching a binding legal solution that guarantees the rights of all parties, away from any unilateral policies inconsistent with the policies of international law,” Shoukry said during a press conference with Lavrov in the Russian capital.

“We will continue to closely coordinate on this matter, including the issue of Palestinian national reconciliation, in which Egypt plays the main role in order to achieve Palestinian unity, in addition to working to fulfill the interests of the brotherly Palestinian people,” Shoukry said.

He expressed his appreciation for the ministerial meetings between Cairo and Moscow and the holding of the joint commercial committee to promote the common interests of both parties, whether in the Dabaa nuclear plant or in promoting tourism.

“We look forward to continuing work to activate all these areas, and for the return of trade exchange to its levels, which was affected by the pandemic, but there is still fruitful cooperation as well as searching for more areas that strengthen relations,” Shoukry continued.

Shoukry added that he and his Russian counterpart discussed ways to maintain stability and territorial integrity in Libya. The foreign minister said they covered activating the plan approved during the meetings of the Libyan National Forum, the importance of holding presidential and legislative elections on Dec. 24, and the need to maintain a ceasefire and the exit of all foreign forces from Libyan territory.

“We will continue to provide all care and support to achieve these goals so that the Libyan institutions regain their full authority, and to preserve the sovereignty of the Libyan territories, stability and security, and the complete elimination of terrorist organizations, which operate and use the Libyan territories as a haven to influence the stability of Libya and the stability of neighboring countries and the stability of the Sahel and Sahara region,” Shoukry added.

Shoukry said that he briefed his Russian counterpart on the latest developments regarding the Renaissance Dam issue against the background of the presidential statement issued by the UN Security Council, expressing his thanks to Moscow for the support that Egypt received in addressing this issue with the UNSC.

Shoukry expressed his aspiration to continue cooperation between the two countries — given the existential nature of this issue for the future of Egypt — and the importance of urgently reaching an agreement through the presidency of the African Union.

The ministers also discussed the crisis in Syria and possible solutions that align with the decisions of international legitimacy. 

Shoukry said: “With regard to my meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, it was important for this meeting to take place in light of what the Syrian crisis has reached,” stressing Egypt’s keenness to help Syria out of its crisis.

The ministers also discussed the crisis in Syria and possible solutions that align with the decisions of international legitimacy. 

“Cairo considers Syria an integral part of the Arab domain and Arab national security, and historically the Egyptian-Syrian relations have always been of importance at the bilateral level, in addition to being one of the pillars of cooperation and coordination and support for maintaining Arab national security,” Shoukry added.

He said that Egypt will work with Syria to take measures that preserve the security and territorial integrity of the country.

“We await the measures that the Syrian government may take within the framework of the political solution in Syria, as well as activating the course of the constitutional committee’s discussions and taking into account the humanitarian situation in Syria to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and meet their needs.”

Lavrov stressed the need to provide aid to the Syrians to overcome the repercussions of the decade-long crisis, and work to reach a political settlement on the basis of UNSC resolutions.

Lavrov added that the terror threat in the Idlib region remains high, and that the terrorist groups stationed there are attacking the units of the Syrian army as well as Russian forces.


Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
Updated 6 sec ago

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
  • A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Tarek Bitar from questioning top officials
BEIRUT: The probe into last year’s deadly Beirut port blast has been cleared to resume after being suspended for more than a month on legal claims against its lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar, a judicial source said.
A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Bitar from questioning top officials on Tuesday.
“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
The resumption could be temporary should further legal complaints be filed, he said.
The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city has made little headway amid pushback from powerful factions, some of whom lead smear campaigns and filed multiple suits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Muslim political movement Hezbollah has repeatedly said he wanted Bitar removed from the case and the row over him has spilled over into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.
Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.
He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4
Updated 07 December 2021

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

BASRA: At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in an explosion in Iraq's southern city of Basra, police and hospital sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the city centre, near a main hospital. The explosion set fire to at least one vehicle and damaged a minibus.
One police source said that an initial investigation showed that a motorcycle rigged with explosives could have been the cause of the blast. 


UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Fridays will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon, with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options during those days. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.


Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 December 2021

Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: Fires caused by an Israeli “aggression” at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday had been extinguished, leaving material damage, but the status of any casualties was unclear, Syria’s state media reported.

Five explosions rocked the port city after an Israeli “aggression” hit the port’s container yard, sending fire trucks racing to the site, Syrian state TV said.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad.

The Mediterranean port of Latakia is the country’s main port, through which food and other crucial supplies flow into war-torn Syria, and is close to Russia’s main air base of Hmeimim.