Egypt’s international cooperation minister meets Japanese officials t0 build ties

Egypt’s international cooperation minister meets Japanese officials t0 build ties
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Updated 29 August 2022

Egypt’s international cooperation minister meets Japanese officials t0 build ties

Egypt’s international cooperation minister meets Japanese officials t0 build ties

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat met Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Oka Hiroshi to discuss the development of joint relations and future cooperation opportunities between the two countries.

Hideki Matsunaga, director general of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Middle East and Europe department; Kenichiro Kitamura, principal representative of the Dubai office of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation; and Toyokazu Fukuyama, executive director of the Cairo office of the Japan External Trade Organization, also participated in the talks.

Al-Mashat highlighted the importance of high-level policy dialogue between the Egyptian and Japanese sides, an important aim for the Ministry of International Cooperation that is to be followed by all multilateral and bilateral development partners.

She stressed the importance of the participation of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan External Trade Organization in the policy dialogue, as the volume of trade exchange and investment between the two countries is a good indicator of strong relations.

“We look forward to further rapprochement and joint action to overcome all challenges,” she said.

Al-Mashat noted the importance of coordinating with the private sector in the two countries to increase its role in Egyptian-Japanese joint relations and to enhance its participation in development efforts.

She pointed to the convening of the second Egypt-International Cooperation Forum next September, which will see the gathering of African ministers of environment and finance to discuss common visions.

Hiroshi said that Japan would continue to support sustainable development in Egypt according to its development needs through three priority areas: Supporting sustainable economic growth; assisting social inclusion; and the promotion of education, human resource development and regional cooperation. 

Hiroshi said that Japanese cooperation with the Egyptian government included: Developing the quality of infrastructure; cooperation between the public and private sectors to generate clean energy; cooperation in the health sector; cooperation in food and agriculture; and cooperation in education and human resource development.

“We have great opportunities to enhance cooperation with the Egyptian government in the renewable energy sector and to promote inclusive growth and localization of the industry,” he said.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation officials gave a presentation on joint work and the organization’s efforts in Egypt. It included a presentation of the bank’s work plan in Egypt for the medium term, for the period 2021–2023, which aims to support Egyptian efforts to enhance infrastructure efficiency, advance sustainable development goals and localize industry.

Fukuyama, executive director of the Japan External Trade Organization’s Cairo office, said that in addition to Japan’s official development assistance, Japanese private companies’ participation in products and technology and direct investment in projects had contributed to Egypt’s economic growth and social development. He emphasized the trade organization’s role in attracting Japanese companies’ interest in Egypt, especially in strategic industries, through its role as a Japanese agency for promoting trade and investment.

During her meeting with the delegation of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Al-Mashat discussed important files within the framework of the cooperation between the government and the agency, and followed up on projects in light of the joint development efforts between the two countries.

Matsunaga, director of the agency's Middle East and Europe section, praised development efforts and what had been achieved in Egypt over the past years, especially in infrastructure, and the ability of the Egyptian state to complete these projects despite the current exceptional world circumstances.

Egypt had shown strong resilience in the face of these crises and has been able to achieve positive growth despite the impact of most of the countries in the region and the world by successive crises.

“Currently, Japan and Egypt are discussing future projects in the fields of electricity, technical support for the Suez Canal, comprehensive health insurance, and the Greater Cairo Metro, in addition to promoting the circular economy through single-use plastics,” according to the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation.

Cooperation between Egypt and Japan began in 1954, and the development cooperation portfolio is diversified in many sectors. The current portfolio of economic cooperation between the two countries amounts to about $2.8 billion to implement 14 projects, including in health, electricity, transport, navigation, education and irrigation.


Kuwait questions UN over ‘allowing Israeli occupations’ criminal violations’

Kuwait questions UN over ‘allowing Israeli occupations’ criminal violations’
Updated 16 sec ago

Kuwait questions UN over ‘allowing Israeli occupations’ criminal violations’

Kuwait questions UN over ‘allowing Israeli occupations’ criminal violations’
  • Kuwaiti diplomat emphasized that his country holds special attention to the Palestinian cause
  • “The occupation is the disease which ... fought, killed, displaced, destroyed families and houses and environment ... of our Palestinian people,” Tarek Al-Bannai said

NEW YORK: The international community’s inability to address the Palestinian cause and to hold Israel accountable is the biggest failure in UN history, a Kuwaiti diplomat said on Thursday.
Addressing a General Assembly session on the Palestinian issue, Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the UN Tarek Al-Bannai questioned the international community for “allowing the Israeli occupation (to) carry out systematic criminal violations without being held accountable or punished as if it is above the law.
“For how long UN member countries continue to deal with the just Palestinian cause with double standards? And for how long this silence continues to deprive the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, as if the rights of the Palestinian people are exempted from international laws?” asked Al-Bannai.
Kuwait’s News Agency cited the diplomat as saying that decades have passed and these questions have not been answered, “and the inability of the international community to address the Palestinian cause and its inability to hold Israel, the occupying force, accountable, is the biggest failure in the UN’s history in general, and (the) Security Council in particular, this is a disgrace.”
He added that the Palestinian people are suffering under the Israeli occupying force “without any clear-cut international reactions to lift this suppression and injustice.”
The Israeli occupation continues violating the UN Charter, international law, international humanitarian law and international law of human rights, the 1949 Geneva Convention and other global treaties, he noted.
“The occupation is the disease which ... fought, killed, displaced, destroyed families and houses and environment ... of our Palestinian people,” Al-Bannai said.
He cited a report about the Palestinian people which mentioned that expansion of Jewish settlements, namely in East Jerusalem, was threatening creation of the Palestinian state.
According to KUNA, Al-Bannai quoted the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland as saying: “After decades of continuous violence, illegal settlement expansion, stalled negotiations, the conflict has once again reached a boiling point.”
He touched on what was stated by Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese on the human rights situation in Palestine’s occupied territories since 1967, describing it as “a deliberately obsessive, racist and repressive regime aimed at preventing the realization of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”
He added that by demolishing symbols that express Palestinian identity, the occupation jeopardizes Palestinian cultural existence, and by suppressing Palestinian political activity, the occupation violates the ability of Palestinians to free themselves from foreign domination and control.
The diplomat affirmed that Kuwait strongly supports Palestine to obtain full membership in the UN, and calls on all countries that do not recognize Palestine as a state to review themselves and align their positions with international law.
Al-Bannai renewed Kuwait’s full support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, believing in the importance of its role in easing the suffering of Palestinian refugees.


Turkiye calls for US understanding ahead of possible Syria operation

Turkiye calls for US understanding ahead of possible Syria operation
Updated 01 December 2022

Turkiye calls for US understanding ahead of possible Syria operation

Turkiye calls for US understanding ahead of possible Syria operation
  • Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar: ‘The US asked us to re-evaluate; we emphasized that they should understand us’
  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart of his ‘strong opposition’ to a new Turkish military operation in Syria

ANKARA: Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar called on the United States on Thursday to show understanding over a possible new Turkish military operation in Syria, after Washington voiced its “strong opposition” to such a move.
Turkiye has been threatening a new incursion into northern Syria for months, and stepped up preparations last month after a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul it blamed on a Kurdish militants.
“The US asked us to re-evaluate. We conveyed to them our sensitivities and thoughts, and asked them to keep their promises. We emphasized that they should understand us,” Akar told reporters.
Turkiye also asked allied countries that have a military presence in Syria not to allow local militias to use their flags and uniforms, Akar added. “We are reminding them that they should keep terrorists away from themselves and eventually they should cut their ties with terrorist organizations,” he said.
Turkiye sees the Kurdish YPG militia, the leading presence in the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as the Syrian wing of the PKK militant group and labels both of them as terrorist organizations.
The PKK is also considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
The PKK and SDF have denied involvement in the Nov. 13 bombing of a busy pedestrian avenue in Istanbul.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told his Turkish counterpart of his “strong opposition” to a new Turkish military operation in Syria and voiced concern over the escalating situation in the county.


Iran’s World Cup team gets tepid welcome home, amid protests

Iran’s World Cup team gets tepid welcome home, amid protests
Updated 01 December 2022

Iran’s World Cup team gets tepid welcome home, amid protests

Iran’s World Cup team gets tepid welcome home, amid protests
  • The players returned from Qatar late Wednesday, a day after their 1-0 loss
  • Anti-government protesters, considering the team a symbol of Iran's clerical rulers, had celebrated the loss in some Iranian cities with fireworks and cheers

BAGHDAD: Iran’s national soccer team received a subdued welcome home after their World Cup defeat against the United States, a match played against the backdrop of ongoing anti-government protests in Iran.
One Iranian man was shot dead celebrating the American victory.
The players returned from Qatar late Wednesday, a day after their 1-0 loss. Anti-government protesters, considering the team a symbol of Iran’s clerical rulers, had celebrated the loss in some Iranian cities with fireworks and cheers.
One man was shot dead by Iranian security forces in northwest Iran for honking his car horn in support of the US victory, the Oslo-based rights monitor Iran Human Rights reported on Thursday.
Iran’s treatment of the players will likely be scrutinized because they refrained from singing the Islamic Republic’s national anthem during their opening World Cup match. Many considered the move a show of solidarity with the protests. The team did sang the anthem in subsequent matches.
A few dozen fans greeted the national team’s return at Tehran’s international airport late Wednesday, with people cheering and waving the Iranian flag.
Yet the players have faced biting criticism from anti-government protesters who have blamed the team for not being more vocal about the security force’s violent put down of the demonstrations. Human rights groups say over 400 protesters have been killed in the crackdown, with thousands more arrested.
An image of players bowing in the presence of President Ebrahim Raisi before setting off to the tournament was widely criticized by activists on social media. A hard-line cleric, Raisi has likened protesters to “flies” and dismissed the movement as a foreign plot, without offering any proof.
Mehran Samak, 27, was shot dead after honking his car in support of the US win after Tuesday’s match in the city of Bandar Anzali in northwest Iran. Oslo-based Iran Human Rights reported he was “shot in the head by state forces when he went out to celebrate the Islamic Republic’s loss.”
Samak is also a childhood friend of Iranian midfielder Saeed Ezatollahi, who mourned his death on his social media. But again he received criticism from activists for not explicitly stating Samak was killed by government forces.
Many Iranian celebrities have however been targeted by the government with arrest or other measures for speaking out on behalf of the protesters.
Iranian officials acknowledged but downplayed compatriots celebrating the US win. Gen. Hossein Salami, chief of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, said those who had celebrated were doing so on “behalf of the enemies,” adding “it is not important to us.” His comments appeared in the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
A former culture minister and editor-in-chief of the Ettelaat newspaper, Abbas Salehi, who has close ties with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, tweeted: “Iran’s defeat in the game against America was bitter, but even more bitter was the happiness of some people.”
Iran was eliminated from the tournament in Qatar following the loss to the US on Tuesday that saw the players scrambling to score a goal in the last remaining minutes of the game. Striker Sardar Azmoun told reporters he was not satisfied with his performance in the last match.
It was the sixth time Iran has participated in the World Cup.
Anti-government protests first erupted in September, following the death of 22-year old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police in the capital, Tehran. The protests quickly grew into the most serious challenge to Iran’s theocracy since its establishment in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.


Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency

Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency
Updated 01 December 2022

Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency

Lebanon MPs again fail to fill vacant presidency
  • Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October

BEIRUT: Lawmakers in crisis-hit Lebanon failed to elect a new president on Thursday for an eighth time, despite the deepening impact of the political deadlock on the country’s economic woes.

Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October with no successor.

Parliament is split between supporters of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its opponents, neither of whom have a clear majority.

Lawmaker Michel Moawad, who is seen as close to the United States, won the support of 37 lawmakers Thursday — well short of the required majority — while 52 spoilt ballots were cast, mainly by pro-Hezbollah lawmakers.

Only 111 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers showed up for the vote.

Some MPs wrote in mock choices on their ballots, with one vote cast for Brazil’s leftist president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Parliament is “not shouldering its responsibilities,” charged lawmaker Antoine Habchi of the Lebanese Forces, a Christian party opposed to Hezbollah.

Electing a president, naming a prime minister and forming a government can take months or even years of political horse-trading.

Lebanon can ill-afford a prolonged power vacuum as it grapples with a financial crisis dubbed by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history, with a currency in free fall, severe electricity shortages and soaring poverty rates.

The country’s caretaker government is unable to enact the sweeping reforms demanded by international lenders as a condition for releasing billions of dollars in bailout loans.

Hezbollah opposes Moawad’s candidacy, and the Iran-backed group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah called last month for a president ready to stand up to the United States.

Moawad has good relations with Washington and has repeatedly called for the disarming of Hezbollah — the only faction to keep its weapons after the end of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Former president Aoun’s own election in 2016 followed a more than two-year vacancy at the presidential palace as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts before reaching a consensus on his candidacy.

By convention, Lebanon’s presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, the premiership is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the post of parliament speaker goes to a Shiite Muslim.

Parliament is expected to convene for a new attempt to elect a president on December 8.


Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry
Updated 01 December 2022

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry

Two killed in Israeli West Bank raid – Palestinian health ministry
  • Israeli media: The two men killed were commanders in the Islamic Jihad militant group
  • The military has been conducting months of arrest raids in the West Bank

JERUSALEM: Two Palestinians were killed Thursday during an Israeli military raid in a militant stronghold in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Reports by Israeli media said the two men killed were commanders in the Islamic Jihad militant group. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the men as Naeem Jamal Zubaidi, 27, and Mohammad Ayman Saadi, 26, but did not confirm whether they were militants.
According to the reports, the military was conducting an arrest raid in the city of Jenin and was met by gunfire. The military responded, killing the two men.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The military has been conducting months of arrest raids in the West Bank, prompted by a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the spring that killed 19 people. The military says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks, but the Palestinians say they entrench Israel’s open-ended occupation and undermine their own security forces.
The raids have ratcheted up tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, triggering another wave of Palestinian attacks in recent weeks that have killed an additional eight people.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed this year, making 2022 the deadliest since 2006. The Israeli military says many of those killed have been militants but local youths protesting the incursions as well as others not involved in the violence have also been killed.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want those territories for their hoped-for future state. Substantive peace talks were last held more than a decade ago, and with Israel headed toward what’s likely to be its most right-wing government ever, there appears to be no prospect for a negotiated solution in the near future.