UAE president holds bilateral talks with Indian PM

UAE president holds bilateral talks with Indian PM
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on Saturday held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Abu Dhabi. (WAM)
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Updated 16 July 2023
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UAE president holds bilateral talks with Indian PM

UAE president holds bilateral talks with Indian PM

LONDON: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on Saturday held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Abu Dhabi, during his fifth visit to the Gulf country in the past eight years, state news agency WAM reported.

The leaders expressed satisfaction that UAE-India relations had witnessed great progress on all fronts, according to a joint statement issued by the two sides following their meeting.

India-UAE trade rose to $85 billion in 2022, making the UAE India’s third-largest trading partner for the year 2022-23 and India’s second-largest export destination.

India is the UAE’s second-largest trading partner, and in February last year India became the first country with which the UAE signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Bilateral trade has increased by about 15 percent since then.

The leaders noted the significant global roles played by both countries this year, with India’s presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s presidency of the UN Climate Change Conference — COP28.

During the talks, Sheikh Mohamed and Modi witnessed the signing of three agreements, including a memorandum of understanding to establish a framework to promote the use of local currencies for cross-border transactions by governors of their respective central banks.

An MoU was signed on interlinking payment and messaging systems by their central bank governors and another for planning to establish the Indian Institute of Technology — Delhi in Abu Dhabi.

The leaders said that developing the Local Currency Settlement system between the two countries to enhance bilateral trade was a reflection of mutual confidence, underlined the robustness of the two economies, and enhanced economic engagement between the UAE and India.

They reiterated their resolve to further strengthen investment ties between the two countries and enhance bilateral partnership in the energy field — in oil, gas and renewable energy.

“Both sides will take forward their cooperation in green hydrogen, solar energy and grid connectivity (and) also agreed to increase investment across the energy spectrum, including in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve programme,” the joint statement said.

“Recognizing the importance of food security, the leaders reiterated their resolve to promote the reliability and resilience of food supply chains and expand food and agriculture trade, including through food corridors projects in India,” the statement said.

The two leaders highlighted the importance of health cooperation and further diversifying it, highlighting the potential of both countries to become a reliable alternative in global health supply chains of vaccines and medicines. Opportunities for collaboration in the growing health infrastructure in the UAE and India were also discussed.

The UAE expressed appreciation that the large Indian diaspora continued to play a significant role in the society and economy of the UAE, and further reinforced bilateral relations.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral collaboration to strengthen maritime security and connectivity in the region to promote prosperity in India and the UAE. They also agreed to enhance defense exchanges, sharing of experiences, training, and capacity building.

They also reaffirmed their joint commitment to the fight against extremism and terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, both regionally and internationally.

“They emphasised the importance of promoting the values of peace, moderation, coexistence, and tolerance among peoples and stressed the need for all forms of extremism, hate speech, discrimination, and incitement to be renounced,” the joint statement said.

Modi commended the UAE’s achievements during its term as an elected member of the UN Security Council, while the UAE reiterated its endorsement of India’s bid for permanent membership of the reformed UNSC.

Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, exploring emerging areas of collaboration, and promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.”

Modi last visited the UAE in June 2022 when Sheikh Mohamed assumed the presidency of the UAE, and in 2015 he became the first Indian premier to visit the Emirates in 34 years.

India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Modi’s one-day visit “provides an opportunity for us to review this important partnership and inject further momentum across a whole range of areas that we cooperate in.”

“We have all seen in front of our eyes in the last few years a significant transformation that has taken place in India-UAE relations,” he said, adding: “The central driver of this has been the vision of the two leaders.”

During his visit, Modi met a number of senior Emirati officials.


Sudan’s warring sides commit abuses, including strikes on fleeing civilians, UN report says

Sudan’s warring sides commit abuses, including strikes on fleeing civilians, UN report says
Updated 2 sec ago
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Sudan’s warring sides commit abuses, including strikes on fleeing civilians, UN report says

Sudan’s warring sides commit abuses, including strikes on fleeing civilians, UN report says
  • Efforts have so far failed to end the 10-month-old conflict that pits Sudan’s regular armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces
GENEVA: Both sides in Sudan’s civil war have committed abuses that may amount to war crimes including indiscriminate attacks on civilian sites like hospitals, markets and even camps for the displaced, the UN human rights office said on Friday.
Efforts have so far failed to end the 10-month-old conflict that pits Sudan’s regular armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Thousands of people have been killed and over six million forced to flee their homes, making it the country with the largest displaced population in the world.
“Some of these violations would amount to war crimes,” Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement accompanying the report. “The guns must be silenced, and civilians must be protected.”
The US has already formally determined that the warring parties have committed war crimes and said the RSF and allied militias were involved in ethnic cleansing in West Darfur. Both sides have said they would investigate reports of killings and abuses and prosecute any fighters found to be involved.
The United Nations report covers the April-December period and is based on interviews with over 300 victims and witnesses as well as footage and satellite imagery.
It says that sometimes those fleeing for their lives or displaced by the violence became victims of explosive weapons attacks.
In one incident, dozens of displaced people were killed when their camp in Zalingei, Darfur was shelled by RSF between Sept. 14-17, the report said. Some 26 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed on Aug. 22 by shells reportedly fired by the Sudanese Armed Forces while sheltering under a bridge.
The report also says the RSF had adopted a military strategy of using human shields, citing testimonies of victims involved.
It describes incidents in the capital Khartoum where dozens of individuals were arrested and placed outside near RSF military posts to deter air strikes from Sudanese fighter jets.
UN investigators have so far documented cases of sexual violence affecting 118 people, including one women who was detained and repeatedly gang-raped for weeks. Many of the rapes were committed by RSF members, it said.
Reuters has also documented cases of gang rape in ethnically targeted attacks by RSF forces and allied Arab militia.
The war erupted last April over disputes about the powers of the army and the RSF under an internationally-backed plan for a political transition toward civilian rule and free elections.

Israel’s Netanyahu presents first official post-Gaza war plan

Israel’s Netanyahu presents first official post-Gaza war plan
Updated 39 sec ago
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Israel’s Netanyahu presents first official post-Gaza war plan

Israel’s Netanyahu presents first official post-Gaza war plan
  • Netanayhu rejects the “unilateral recognition” of a Palestinian state
  • Replace Hamas rule in Gaza while maintaining public order

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented a “day after” plan for Gaza, his first official proposal for when the war in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory ends.
According to the document, presented to members of Israel’s security cabinet on Thursday and seen by Reuters on Friday, Israel would maintain security control over all land west of Jordan, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza — territories where the Palestinians want to create an independent state.
In the long-term goals listed, Netanayhu rejects the “unilateral recognition” of a Palestinian state. He says a settlement with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct negotiations between the two sides — but it did not name who the Palestinian party would be.
In Gaza, Netanyahu outlines demilitarization and deradicalization as goals to be achieved in the medium term. He does not elaborate on when that intermediary stage would begin or how long it would last. But he conditions the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, much of which has been laid to waste by Israel’s offensive, on its complete demilitarization.
Netanyahu proposes Israel have a presence on the Gaza-Egypt border in the south of the enclave and cooperates with Egypt and the United States in that area to prevent smuggling attempts, including at the Rafah crossing.
To replace Hamas rule in Gaza while maintaining public order, Netanyahu suggests working with local representatives “who are not affiliated with terrorist countries or groups and are not financially supported by them.”
He calls for shutting down the UN Palestinian refugees agency UNRWA and replacing it with other international aid groups.
“The prime minister’s document of principles reflects broad public consensus over the goals of the war and for replacing Hamas rule in Gaza with a civilian alternative,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s office said.
The document was distributed to security cabinet members to start a discussion on the issue.
The war was triggered by a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israeli counts.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault on blockaded Gaza that has killed more than 29,400 people, according to Palestinian health authorities. The offensive has displaced most of the territory’s population and caused widespread hunger and disease.
The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told Reuters that Netanyahu’s proposal was doomed to fail, as were any Israeli plans to change the geographic and demographic realities in Gaza.
“If the world is genuinely interested in having security and stability in the region, it must end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and recognize an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
The war in Gaza has revived international calls — including Israel’s main backer the United States — for the so-called two-state solution as the ultimate goal for resolving the decades long Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, a number of senior Israeli politicians oppose this.
The two-state solution has long been a core Western policy in the region but little progress has been made on achieving Palestinian statehood since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s.


Day 5 at ICJ hearing: Oman and Qatar to speak at The Hague

Day 5 at ICJ hearing: Oman and Qatar to speak at The Hague
Updated 13 min ago
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Day 5 at ICJ hearing: Oman and Qatar to speak at The Hague

Day 5 at ICJ hearing: Oman and Qatar to speak at The Hague
  • Representatives from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have demanded Israel end its occupation of the Palestinian territories

DUBAI: The International Court of Justice, the UN’s top court, on Friday will contiune its hearing from dozens of states and three international organizations who question the legality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Representatives from countries including Qatar, Oman, Pakistan, Malaysia and the United Kingdom are expected to deliver their positions during the foruth day of the hearing at the ICJ, also known as the World Court.

Speakers from the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have already demanded Israel end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, with the Kingdom’s envoy to the Netherlands Ziad Al-Atiyah stating Israel’s continued actions were legally indefensible.

The hearing follows a request by the UN General Assembly for an advisory, or non-binding, opinion on the occupation in 2022. More than 50 states will present arguments until Feb. 26.


UN agency for Palestinians refugees at ‘breaking point’: chief

UN agency for Palestinians refugees at ‘breaking point’: chief
Updated 56 min 4 sec ago
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UN agency for Palestinians refugees at ‘breaking point’: chief

UN agency for Palestinians refugees at ‘breaking point’: chief
  • UNRWA has been accused by Israel of serving as a tool of the Hamas militant group
  • UNRWA’s Philippe Lazzarini: Israel has not provided evidence against its 12 former workers

UNITED NATIONS: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned Thursday it has reached a critical juncture as it struggles to cope with the war in Gaza.

“It is with profound regret that I must now inform you that UNRWA has reached a breaking point,” chief Philippe Lazzarini said, as donors freeze funding, Israel exerts pressure to dismantle the agency and humanitarian needs soar.
“The Agency’s ability to fulfill the mandate given through General Assembly resolution 302 is now seriously threatened,” he said in a letter to the assembly.
That is the resolution under which the agency was founded in 1949, following the creation of Israel.
UNRWA employs some 30,000 people working in the occupied territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Students attend a class inside a school run by UNRWA at Mar Elias Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, on February 21, 2024. (REUTERS)

Several countries — including the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan — have suspended funding to UNRWA in response to Israeli allegations that some of its staff participated in the October 7 attack on Israel.
In an interview published over the weekend, Lazzarini said $438 million has been frozen — the equivalent of more than half of expected funding for 2024. He said Israel was waging a concerted effort to destroy UNRWA.
The UN fired the employees accused by Israel and has begun an internal probe of UNRWA.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also tasked an independent panel with assessing whether UNRWA acts neutrally in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Lazzarini asserted Thursday that Israel has provided no evidence against the 12 former employees it accuses, but 16 countries have suspended funding anyway.
“I have cautioned donors and host countries that without new funding, UNRWA operations across the region will be severely compromised from March,” he said.
He added: “I fear we are on the edge of a monumental disaster with grave implications for regional peace, security and human rights.”
The war started after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.
Hamas militants also took about 250 hostages — 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.
Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 29,410 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by Gaza’s health ministry.


WHO plans more evacuations from Gaza hospital as bodies buried on grounds

WHO plans more evacuations from Gaza hospital as bodies buried on grounds
Updated 23 February 2024
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WHO plans more evacuations from Gaza hospital as bodies buried on grounds

WHO plans more evacuations from Gaza hospital as bodies buried on grounds

Aid agencies hope to evacuate roughly 140 patients stranded in Gaza’s Nasser hospital, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday, as Palestinian authorities reported that Israeli troops withdrew from the complex and then stormed it again.

Medical teams had buried on the grounds of the hospital 13 patients who had died because the facility had no power or oxygen, Gaza’s health ministry said.

The WHO says the hospital in Khan Younis, which is Gaza’s second-largest and is crucial to the territory’s crippled health services, stopped working last week after an Israeli siege followed by a raid.

The WHO and partners have so far carried out three evacuations from the hospital, the latest on Wednesday, transferring a total of 51 patients to southern Gaza, the UN agency’s Ayadil Saparbekov told a press briefing.

“The WHO will continue to try evacuation of those critically ill and critically wounded patients from the Nasser hospital to other hospitals in the south, including the field hospitals that have been established in Rafah,” Saparbekov said.

“However it’s a very difficult and high-risk mission.”

Israeli forces had withdrawn from the hospital, positioning themselves nearby and preventing movement to and from it before storming it once more, the Gaza health ministry said. There was no immediate comment from Israel.

The number of patients remaining in Nasser hospital had been changing by the hour as some people left to escape the fighting and others succumbed to their wounds, Saparbekov said.

Gaza’s health ministry had said in an earlier statement on Wednesday that 110 patients were waiting to be evacuated. It said eight patients at Nasser had died due to the lack of power and oxygen four days previously and that their bodies had begun to decompose, posing a risk to other patients.

When the WHO carried out the evacuations so far, it observed four doctors and nurses at Nasser hospital along with about a dozen volunteers helping medical staff keep patients alive, Saparbekov said. Staff had not yet managed to reconnect the main generator.

The Gaza health ministry said there was a lack of food, drinking water and medical supplies at the complex, and that the ground floors were flooded with sewage water.

Four-and-a-half months after Israel began its campaign in Gaza in retaliation for a major Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, just 13 of the Palestinian enclave’s 34 hospitals are functioning on a partial or minimal level.

Gaza’s population of 2.3 million faces acute hunger and the spread of disease in a humanitarian crisis that aid officials describe as unprecedented.

Most Gaza residents have been displaced and are crammed into the south of the strip around Rafah, close to the border with Egypt.

Israel says Hamas, the Islamist group that has run Gaza since 2007, uses hospitals for cover. Hamas denies this and says Israel’s allegations serve as a pretext to destroy the health care system.