Putin hosts Erdogan for talks on trade, Ukraine, Syria

Putin hosts Erdogan for talks on trade, Ukraine, Syria
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to their meeting at the Rus sanatorium in Sochi on Aug. 5, 2022. (Turkish Presidency via AP )
Putin hosts Erdogan for talks on trade, Ukraine, Syria
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Turkish military vehicles during a joint patrol in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province on the border with Turkey on July 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 05 August 2022

Putin hosts Erdogan for talks on trade, Ukraine, Syria

Putin hosts Erdogan for talks on trade, Ukraine, Syria
  • They adopted a statement pledging to boost political and economic cooperation
  • The talks came as Russia’s isolation grows following its intervention in Ukraine

MOSCOW: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Russia Friday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin focusing on a grain deal brokered by Turkey and the UN, prospects for talks on ending hostilities in Ukraine, the situation in Syria and growing economic ties between Moscow and Ankara.
Speaking at the start of the meeting at Putin’s Black Sea residence in Sochi, Erdogan said their negotiations would help “put forward the role that Turkey and Russia play in the region.” He cast the talks as pivotal, saying they were being watched closely by the rest of the world.
“Today, of, course, the world’s eye is on Sochi,” Erdogan said. “They are following it, wondering what is being discussed and done in Sochi.”
The two sides adopted a statement pledging to boost political and economic cooperation including in energy and trade.
The talks between Putin and Erdogan came as Russia’s isolation grows following its intervention in Ukraine.
“Despite the current regional and global challenges, the leaders reaffirmed their common will to further develop Russian-Turkish relations,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the four-hour talks.
While Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine was not explicitly mentioned in the statement, the leaders stressed the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments, pointing to the two countries’ “constructive relations” that they stressed made the agreement possible.
The statement also made no direct mention of any new offensive that Turkey might be planning against Kurdish militants in Syria.
“The parties confirmed that they attach great importance to advancing the political process” in Syria, the statement said.
“The determination to act jointly and in close coordination with each other in the fight against all terrorist organizations was reaffirmed.”
At the start of the talks Putin also praised the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project, saying Europe should be grateful to Turkey for uninterrupted supplies of Russian gas.
Last month, Turkey and the United Nations helped broker agreements between Russia and Ukraine to clear the way for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of agricultural products stuck in its Black Sea ports since Moscow sent troops into the country more than five months ago. The deals also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer.
Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn left Ukrainian ports Friday. The first vessel to depart under the terms of the deal left Ukraine earlier in the week.
Putin thanked Erdogan for helping to negotiate the grain deal, which is overseen from Istanbul by officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN Cargo vessels are accompanied by Ukrainian pilot ships for safe passage because of explosive mines strewn in the Black Sea.
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said the leaders agreed that Turkey will start partly paying in rubles for Russian gas supplies. Moscow has previously switched to rubles in its trade with EU customers to avoid Western sanctions that blocked most payments in euros and froze Russian hard currency reserves abroad.
Novak also said “big” agreements were reached in the financial sphere to facilitate payments by Russian companies and citizens.
“Very important decisions that were reached during today’s talks will take our economic and trade ties to a new level in practically all areas,” he told reporters.
While Moscow and Ankara have backed the opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, with Russia shoring up President Bashar Assad’s government with Iranian assistance while Turkey supported the opposition, the two countries cooperated closely to negotiate a cease-fire deal in northwestern Syria.
Speaking to Putin Friday, Erdogan voiced hope that their discussion on Syria would “bring relief to the region.”
In a statement after the talks, the two leaders underlined the need for “close cooperation and coordination in the fight against all terrorist organizations.”
(With AP and AFP)


Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits

Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits
Updated 13 sec ago

Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits

Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits
  • A further 1,500 people from the impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip would be allowed to work in Israel from Sunday
JERUSALEM: Israel said Friday it plans to grant more work permits to Palestinians in blockaded Gaza, reviving a pledge made ahead of a visit by US President Joe Biden but later scrapped.
A further 1,500 people from the impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip would be allowed to work in Israel from Sunday, the military said in a statement.
“The decision will take effect ... on condition that the security situation remains quiet in the area,” said COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories.
The move to boost to 15,500 the total number of work permits was initially announced on July 12, on the eve of Biden’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
But it was scrapped four days later, in the wake of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and retaliatory strikes by Israeli warplanes.
The work permits provide vital income to some of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, who have been living under a strict blockade imposed by Israel since the Islamist movement Hamas seized power in 2007.
Friday’s announcement follows three days of fighting this month between Islamic Jihad militants and Israel.
At least 49 Gazans were killed and hundreds wounded, according to figures from the enclave’s health ministry.
The plan to issue additional permits follows a decision by Hamas largely to stay out of the recent fighting.

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens
Updated 33 min 7 sec ago

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 9, injures dozens
  • The attack on the town of Al-Bab came days after a Turkish airstrike killed at least 11 Syrian troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters

BEIRUT: A rocket attack on a crowded market in a town held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria Friday killed at least nine people and wounded dozens, an opposition war monitor and a paramedic group reported.
The attack on the town of Al-Bab came days after a Turkish airstrike killed at least 11 Syrian troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, blamed Syrian government forces for the shelling, saying it was in retaliation for the Turkish airstrike.
The Observatory said the attack killed at least 10 and wounded more than 30.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, had a lower death toll, saying nine people, including children, were killed and 28 were wounded. The paramedic group said its members evacuated some of the wounded and the dead bodies.
Discrepancies in casualty figures immediately after attacks are not uncommon in Syria.
Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and controls some territories in the north.
Although the fighting has waned over the past few years, shelling and airstrikes are not uncommon in northern Syria that is home to the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.
President Bashar Assad’s forces now control most parts of Syria with the help of their allies, Russia and Iran.


Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
Updated 19 August 2022

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
  • Israeli military say soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town
  • Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories Presse: A Palestinian man was killed Friday by Israeli forces during a raid in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Salah Sawafta, 58, “died of critical wounds, sustained by live bullets from the occupation (Israeli military) in the head, in Tubas this morning,” a ministry statement said.
The Israeli military said soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town.
During an operation in “Tubas, several suspects hurled Molotov cocktails and opened fire at (Israeli) troops, who responded with fire,” the army said in a statement, adding “hits were identified.”
The mayor of Tubas, Hossam Daraghmeh, said Sawafta had been leaving dawn prayers when he was shot.
“He left the mosque and was heading to his house wearing a prayer robe. There was a vengeful soldier stationed in a building near the municipality who shot him in the head,” he said.
Daraghmeh said Sawafta had been unarmed when he was hit.
“This man did not have a stone or anything in his hand,” he said.
The Israeli military said five people were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.
On Thursday, a 20-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops during clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967, when it seized the territory from Jordan.


Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
Updated 19 August 2022

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
  • Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country

Algiers: Wildfires, which killed at least 38 people and left a trail of destruction in eastern Algeria this week, are now under control, a civil defense official told AFP on Friday.
“All of the fires have been completely brought under control,” said fire brigade Col. Farouk Achour, of the civil defense department.
Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country.
Deadly fires have become an annual scourge in Algeria, where climate change has turned large areas of forest into a tinderbox in the blistering summer months.
The justice ministry launched an inquiry after Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud suggested some of the fires were started deliberately, and authorities on Thursday announced four arrests of suspected arsonists.
Authorities have been accused of being ill-prepared, with few firefighting aircraft available despite record casualties in last year’s blazes and a cash windfall from gas exports with global energy prices soaring.


UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion
Updated 19 August 2022

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

UAE’s foreign aid over past year totalled $3.5 billion

DUBAI: The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), said on Thursday that the total value of foreign aid provided by the UAE from the start of 2021 to mid-August 2022 amounted to some $3.5 billion.
While Yemen accounted for most of the Emirati foreign aid with over $315 million, the list also included several Arab, Asian and Western countries, state news agency WAM reported.
A range of sectors and programmes received aid from the UAE, including public and health sectors, social services, and education.
Programmes aimed at supporting peace and security received over $74 million, and the water and public health services sectors received $72 million, government and civil society initiatives received nearly $60 million, and services that support the energy sector received some $57 million, and initiatives aimed at supporting the agriculture sector received over $50 million.