Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow

Special 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.


Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status
Updated 16 sec ago

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status
  • ICESCO award recognizes historical significance of 219-room building
  • Decision marks another cultural milestone for Kuwait, official says

KUWAIT: Naif Palace in Kuwait City has been designated an Islamic Heritage Site by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Monday.

Dr. Waleed Al-Saif, president of the heritage committee of the Islamic world at ICESCO, said the decision to recognize the palace was made during the committee’s 10th session in Rabat.

He hailed it as another cultural milestone for the country.

Kuwait’s Kazma area, Failaka Island and Al-Qurainya are already on the list.

Other Kuwaiti sites that made the ICESCO preliminary list were: Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Palace, Mubarak Al-Kabeer marine reserve and Boubyan Island.

According to Al-Saif, the committee has members from nine Islamic nations chosen by the culture ministers of 54 Muslim countries.

He said the decision to make Naif Palace an Islamic Heritage Site was made in accordance with international standards of evaluation, adding that such monuments needed to be preserved and protected for future generations.

Naif Palace, which covers an area of 28,802 square meters, was built in 1919, during the reign of Emir Sheikh Salem Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah. It has 219 rooms and also houses a mosque, a garrison dormitory and an ammunition depot.

The palace was expanded in 1950 and now serves a ceremonial role during Ramadan, with a canon drill performed and broadcast on national TV to signal the breaking of fast.


Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire
Updated 11 min 12 sec ago

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire
  • Muhammad Yahya: I quickly entered the church to save people … and I encountered a lot of fire and smoke
  • The density of the fumes obstructed Yahya’s breathing and vision, so he took off his T-shirt, doused it in water and placed it over his nose to block the fumes

CAIRO: A young Egyptian Muslim rescued five children from Sunday’s fire at the Abu Sefein church in the city of Giza, which killed 41 people and injured 14.

“I quickly entered the church to save people … and I encountered a lot of fire and smoke,” said Muhammad Yahya, who lives next door and was injured during the rescue.

He added that he headed to the church because he heard screams from inside the building. The density of the fumes obstructed Yahya’s breathing and vision, so he took off his T-shirt, doused it in water and placed it over his nose to block the fumes from his respiratory path.

He tried to rescue an elderly man by carrying him on his back, but he slipped due to the large amount of water used to extinguish the fire, and they both fell to the ground.

Yahya broke his leg in the fall and was taken to hospital. He has been visited by priests checking on his health and thanking him for his bravery.


UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts
Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts
  • UN envoy expressed gratitude for the support of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and UN Security Council
  • Highlighted responsibility of helping Yemen and its people to take the necessary and decisive steps toward peace

LONDON: The UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said on Monday the opening of roads in Taiz and other Yemeni governorates remains at the forefront of his efforts.

Whilst briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in the country, Grundberg said that despite several proposals being presented to the parties, there has been no progress on the issue.

“Several proposals with different sets of roads and sequencing options have been presented to the parties. It is regrettable that, despite these efforts, there has not been more progress achieved on road openings to date,” Grundberg said. 

The UN envoy also expressed gratitude “for the concerted support” of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UN Security Council.

He highlighted the joint responsibility of helping Yemen and its people to take the necessary and decisive steps toward peace to end the conflict and not merely manage it.

He also told the council that since the start of the truce in April, 33 ships were cleared to enter Hodeidah port, bringing in one million metric tons of much-needed fuel products. 

In addition to this, 31 round-trip flights were operated to and from Sanaa, transporting more than 15,000 passengers, he said.

He said that as a result of the support provided by Jordan, the frequency of commercial flights between Sanaa and Amman has increased to three per week.

Grundberg said the latest truce extension that was announced on August 2 “allows us to continue to expeditiously work toward an expanded truce agreement.”

He continued: “I am therefore intensifying my efforts to support the parties in resolving outstanding issues.

“In my discussions with the parties, they continue to emphasize the need to build on the existing truce to achieve a wider array of economic and security priorities and to move toward more durable solutions for issues with political implications.”


Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs
Updated 15 August 2022

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs
  • Egypt’s Armed Forces Engineering Authority tasked with project
  • Cash support for victims’ families from Al-Azhar and the government

CAIRO: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has tasked the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to restore the Abu Sefein church, which was damaged by a fire that killed 41 people and injured 16 others on Sunday.

Hisham El-Swefy, head of the authority, telephoned Pope Tawadros II to inform him of the plan.

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb has come to the aid of the families of the victims and is coordinating cash payouts for them with various NGOs.

Al-Tayeb sent a message of support to Pope Tawadros II.

“Al-Azhar and its scholars and sheikhs all stand by their brothers in this tragic accident and extend their sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” he said.

El-Sisi had earlier received messages of condolences from the presidents of Tunisia and Lebanon following the tragedy.

Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy confirmed that the Public Prosecution authority had completed its investigation into the incident and found that the victims had died of smoke inhalation.

El-Sawy said that 41 people had died, and 16 others, including four police officers, were injured.

El-Sawy stated that the authority had completed its questioning of the injured people.

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior confirmed that an electrical fault caused the fire, and that it broke out in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly directed the Minister of Social Solidarity to pay compensation of EGP100,000 ($5,226) to every victim’s family, and a maximum of EGP20,000 ($1,045) to every injured person.

In an earlier statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church had said that the fire broke out during the Divine Liturgy at the building in the north of Giza, and that several worshipers were transferred to the Imbaba and Agouza hospitals.


Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece

Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece
Updated 15 August 2022

Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece

Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece
  • Oil seized by US from Lana prompted Iranian forces to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf

ATHENS: An Iranian-flagged tanker has retrieved an oil cargo which the United States had confiscated and is set to leave Greece, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The seizure from the Lana, formerly the Pegas, prompted Iranian forces in May to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf which have not yet been released.
The United States had hired a tanker in April to impound the oil onboard the Lana tanker, which had been anchored off Greece.
The oil was then partly removed and placed aboard the Ice Energy tanker, which had been chartered by Washington and had been expected to sail to United States before Greece’s supreme court ruled that the cargo should be returned to Iran.
“The reloading process is complete,” one of the sources said. Another source said it was completed on Sunday.
The embassy of Iran in Athens said on Aug 12 on Twitter that the vessel would sail to Iran after the reloading was completed.
It was not clear if Lana, which had engine problems, could sail unassisted.
For over two months, Lana remained under arrest off the Greek island of Evia, near the town of Karystos. It was tugged to Piraeus following court orders that allowed its release.
The tanker has been anchored off Piraeus since late July.