CAIRO: Egypt, Cyprus and Greece have discussed strengthening joint military cooperation to face security challenges and threats.
This came during Egypt’s hosting of the fifth meeting of the defense ministers, as well as leaders of the armed forces, of the three countries.
Egyptian military spokesman Col. Arkan Harb Gharib Abdel Hafez said in a statement that the meeting dealt with a number of topics and issues related to defense cooperation.
Lt. Gen. Mohamed Zaki, commander-in-chief of Egypt’s armed forces, and minister of defense and military production, held a bilateral meeting with the Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides to discuss the transfer and exchange of information and skills between the armed forces of both countries.
Zaki also held talks with Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Greek minister of defense, to review the regional and international defense situation and its implications for security and stability in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean.
In his opening address, Zaki highlighted “the importance of supporting means of cooperation and partnership between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, which contributes to achieving security and stability in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean region, praising the fruitful cooperation the Egyptian-Cypriot-Greek relations are witnessing during recent times.”
The Cypriot defense minister supported extended partnership and cooperation, especially with joint exercises and the exchange of experiences between the armed forces.
The Greek defense minister expressed his appreciation for Egypt’s influential and active role to achieve security and stability in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.
At the conclusion of the discussions, a joint statement was signed within the framework of the efforts of the Egyptian, Cypriot and Greek armed forces to support cooperation in defense and security in order to confront challenges and threats, and support peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis
The meeting represented “positive and constructive dialogue that reflects the strength of bilateral relations”
Updated 10 sec ago
DUBAI: Tunisia’s foreign minister discussed ways to rectify the democratic process in the country during a meeting with the chargée d'affaires at the US Embassy in Tunis on Monday.
Othman Jerandi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad, met with Natasha Franceschi, chargée d'affaires at the US Embassy, to step up consultations between the two countries, Tunisia’s state news agency TAP reported.
The meeting represented “positive and constructive dialogue that reflects the strength of bilateral relations,” the Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement.
Upcoming bilateral events, such as the Joint Military Commission, were also discussed at the meeting, according to the same statement.
During the meeting, Jerandi welcomed the ties between the two countries, while Franceschi stressed the US’ keenness to develop partnerships with Tunisia in all sectors.
Franceschi also presented America’s initiative to host the US-Africa Leaders Summit scheduled for Dec. 13-15 in Washington.
Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three
Similar police operations were also undertaken in Zarqa, northeast of Amman
Updated 6 min 32 sec ago
DUBAI: Three people were arrested after Jordanian police on Monday raided a house in East Amman that was being used as a crystal meth laboratory.
The raid was carried out after agents of the anti-narcotics department received a tip off.
The officers did not find the suspect in his home, but discovered and subsequently seized chemicals used for manufacturing methamphetamine.
The man was arrested later during a follow-up operation, where he also said he had an accomplice who worked with him to produce and sell the narcotics.
In a similar effort in Jordan’s campaign to crack down on the illegal drug trade, police raided a chalet west of Al-Balqa and arrested a man found in possession of marijuana and as well as a firearm on suspicion after he tried to flee.
Similar police operations were also undertaken in Zarqa, northeast of Amman, where suspects have been arrested while in possession of illegal drugs and narcotics.
Iran submits a ‘written response’ in nuclear deal talks
No details offered on the substance of Iran’s response
But Tehran suggested it still would not take the EU-mediated proposal
Updated 16 August 2022
DUBAI: Iran said Tuesday it submitted a “written response” to what has been described as a final roadmap to restore its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency offered no details on the substance of it response, but suggested that Tehran still wouldn’t take the European Union-mediated proposal, despite warnings there would be no more negotiations.
“The differences are on three issues, in which the United States has expressed its verbal flexibility in two cases, but it should be included in the text,” the IRNA report said. “The third issue is related to guaranteeing the continuation of (the deal), which depends on the realism of the United States.”
Tehran under hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi has repeatedly tried to blame Washington for the delay in reaching an accord. Monday was reported to have been a deadline for their response.
There was no immediate acknowledgment from the EU that Iran submitted its response. The EU has been the go-between in the indirect talks.
From Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US would share its own response to the EU.
“We do agree, however, with (the EU’s) fundamental point, and that is that what could be negotiated has been negotiated,” Price said.
He added that Iran had been making “unacceptable demands” going beyond the text of the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
“If Iran wants these sanctions lifted, they will need to alter their underlying conduct,” Price said. “They will need to change the dangerous activities that gave rise to these sanctions in the first place.”
Egypt’s deadly church fire sparks global outpouring of sorrow and sympathy
Blaze in Abu Sifin church in Giza governorate during Sunday mass claimed 41 lives
Condolences have come not just from Egypt but across the Arab and Muslim world
Updated 16 August 2022
CAIRO: On Sunday, thick smoke and the sound of screams engulfed the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo as fire broke out in the Abu Sifin church in the working-class district west of the Nile River.
Many of the 5,000 worshippers who had gathered for a peaceful mass at the Coptic church were forced to throw themselves from windows on to the street below.
By the time emergency services were able to respond and extinguish the blaze, 41 people, including 15 children, had died and 14 were left injured.
Later that day, hundreds gathered to pay their respects in and around two churches in the Giza governorate of greater Cairo, where clergymen prayed for the victims.
Pallbearers pushed through crowds of weeping mourners who reached out to touch the coffins, including that of a priest at the church, Father Abdel-Messih Bekhit.
In an earlier statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church said that the fire broke out during the divine liturgy at the building in the north of Giza, and that several worshippers were transferred to the Imbaba and Agouza hospitals.
The following morning, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that he had “mobilized all state services” in response and, later, that he had “presented his condolences by phone” to Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The Egyptian leader also directed the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to “take over the reconstruction and renovation” of the church, the presidency said in a statement.
Witnesses to the fire described people rushing into the multi-story church to save those trapped, but the rescuers were soon overwhelmed by heat and deadly smoke.
“Everyone was carrying kids out of the building,” said Ahmed Reda Baioumy, who lives next to the church. “But the fire was getting bigger and you could only go in once or you would asphyxiate.”
Another witness, Sayed Tawfik, told AFP news agency that “some threw themselves out of windows to escape the fire.” He pointed to a car bearing dents “left by a person who is now lying in the hospital with a broken arm and back.”
A statement from the public prosecutor’s office suggested that the deaths were caused by asphyxiation, as there were “no visible injuries.”
• $5,226 Compensation to be paid to victims’ families.
• $1,045 Compensation to be paid to those injured.
The Egyptian interior ministry said that “forensic evidence revealed that the blaze broke out in an air-conditioning unit on the second floor of the church building,” which also houses social services.
Father Farid Fahmy, from a nearby church, said a short circuit caused the fire.
“The power was out and they were using a generator,” he said. “When the power came back, it caused an overload.”
Accidental fires are not uncommon in the sprawling city of Cairo, where millions live in informal settlements. Last year, at least 20 people died in a blaze in a clothing factory on the outskirts of the capital.
Following the Abu Sifin church fire, Giza’s governor ordered “urgent aid of 50,000 pounds (around $2,600) for the families of the deceased and 10,000 pounds for the injured.”
Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy said that the public prosecution authority had completed its investigation into the fire and found that the victims died of smoke inhalation.
The interior ministry confirmed that the blaze was caused by an electrical fault in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms.
Mostafa Madbouly, Egypt’s prime minister, directed the minister of social solidarity to pay compensation of EGP100,000 to victims’ families and a maximum of EGP20,000 to those injured.
Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 107 million Muslim-majority population. They justifiably claim to be the original Egyptians, with their liturgical language descended directly from the language of the pharaohs. Many Copts can trace their heritage back to ancient Egypt.
For many, the fire brought back painful memories of deadly attacks by Islamist extremists, including a bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral that killed 25 people in 2016 and a gunman who killed nine worshippers at another church the following year.
Copts have lived through times of both harmony and adversity throughout much of Egypt’s long history. In the 20th century, many were pushed out of political life. Others have deplored restrictive legislation for the construction and renovation of churches.
El-Sisi, who was elected in 2014, became the first Egyptian president to attend the Coptic Christmas mass every year. In February, he appointed the first-ever Coptic judge to head the Supreme Constitutional Court, the country’s highest legal body.
Muslim religious officials in Egypt expressed their condolences to the grieving Coptic community.
Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb pledged to aid the families of the victims and is coordinating cash payouts with various NGOs. He also 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, and affirmed “the readiness of Al-Azhar hospitals to receive the injured.”
The tragedy resulted in an outpouring of support from across Egypt and the world. In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres offered his “deepest condolences” to families of the victims.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia offered their condolences to El-Sisi and the victims’ families. They expressed “profound sorrow and sincere sympathy,” and wished the injured a “quick recovery.”
The UAE’s leaders offered prayers for the victims’ families and El-Sisi. President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum wished the people who were injured in the blaze a steady recovery.
Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s crown prince and prime minister, offered his condolences to El-Sisi and Madbouly.
Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh offered his “condolences and sympathy” to the Egyptian government, people and victims’ families.
Tunisian President Kais Saied offered his condolences to his Egyptian counterpart, and wished the injured a speedy recovery in a phone call following the incident.
Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed his sympathy.
He stressed the OIC’s continuous support in solidarity with Egypt through tragic circumstances.
The Coptic miracle
How Egypt's historic Christian church survived and thrived
Greece locates refugees in Evros; trapped for days between Greece, Turkey
Updated 15 August 2022
ATHENS: Greek police said on Monday afternoon they had located 38 Syrian refugees in the Lavara area of Evros, among them one pregnant woman and seven children.
The refugees had been trapped for days on a small islet in the Evros river along the border between Greece and Turkey, according to media reports and activists.
Greece had said on Sunday that after repeated searches it had not located any people on the islet that was outside Greek territory and had alerted Turkish authorities over the issue. The Turkish Interior Ministry declined comment.
On Monday, Greek police said the refugees were located in the Greek area of Lavara approximately four kilometers (2.5 miles) south of the coordinates of their initially reported position.
“Since they were located, Greek police forces and other government services have rushed to their aid, to provide health care, food and water and to transfer them to an area of temporary accommodation,” police said in a statement.
Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said on Twitter that they were in good condition and the pregnant woman was being transferred to hospital out of precaution. Greek police had also found a boat near them, he said.
Earlier, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) charity and other organizations had called for the immediate evacuation of 39 refugees from the islet.
The IRC said that among them was a nine-year old girl in a critical condition. It also cited media reports saying that her five-year-old sister had died after a scorpion had stung her and that the refugees had tried to reach the Greek mainland but had been pushed back.
“This latest situation at the Evros border highlights the brutality of pushbacks, which we know are taking place at borders across Europe,” said Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, IRC Greece Director.
Greek authorities have not confirmed the information cited by IRC and have repeatedly denied forcibly repelling refugees or migrants at border points.