Imran Khan to visit Saudi Arabia next week, says Pakistan Foreign Ministry

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Photo courtesy: PTI official media cell)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Imran Khan to visit Saudi Arabia next week, says Pakistan Foreign Ministry

  • It’ll be either on Sept. 17-18 or Sept. 18-19 — Dr. Mohammad Faisal
  • The prime minister will travel with a small entourage, as per the government’s austerity drive

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia next week, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to Arab News on Thursday.
“It’ll be either on Sept. 17-18 or Sept. 18-19. The details (of the visit) are being finalized,” said Dr. Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson for Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said the prime minister will travel to Saudi Arabia with a small entourage, as per the government’s austerity drive.
Arab News learned that the agenda of his meetings with Saudi dignitaries was being finalized. The prime minister will discuss “financial support to Pakistan and the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Pakistani workers (in Saudi Arabia).”
The development comes just days after a three-day visit of Saudi Arabia’s Media Minister Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad to Islamabad, during which he held meetings with Imran Khan and other top civil-military leaders. The minister passed on greetings from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the prime minister and invited him to visit Saudi Arabia.
In his victory speech on July 26, Imran Khan said: “Saudi Arabia is a friend who has always stood by us in difficult times.”
King Salman, in a telephone call on Aug. 12, congratulated Imran Khan on his party’s victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.
Pakistan is an important ally of Saudi Arabia, King Salman had said, adding that Saudi Arabia wants to maintain cordial relations with the country. He extended an invitation to Imran Khan, who had accepted.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also telephoned Khan and expressed the Kingdom’s desire to invest heavily in the country to strengthen its trade and bilateral ties with Pakistan.
“Pakistan considers Saudi Arabia’s security to be of crucial importance and safety of the holy sites in the kingdom was part of their faith,” the PTI said in a statement after Khan spoke to King Salman.


Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

Updated 58 min 16 sec ago
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Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

  • Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama ‘Empire,’ went from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month
  • Smollett accused of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions

CHICAGO: An American TV actor was criminally charged Thursday for allegedly masterminding an elaborate “publicity stunt” that sought to exploit the “pain and anger of racism” with a staged assault on the streets of Chicago.

It was the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has seen 36-year-old Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama “Empire,” go from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month.

An incredulous Chicago police chief accused Smollett of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions, because he was allegedly “dissatisfied with his salary.”

In a sign of the national attention the case has drawn, President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday, taking issue with the fact Smollett claimed his assailants invoked the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan along with racist slurs during the purported attack.

“‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told an emotionally-charged news conference — during which he lashed out angrily at the actor for sullying the city’s image.

“Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” he said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Smollett turned himself in early Thursday morning, was arrested and charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, and was granted $100,000 bond.

He was freed from jail late in the afternoon, and said nothing to the throng of media. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

His legal team pushed back hard later Thursday, claiming the police press conference had been prejudicial and “the presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon.”

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” attorney Jack Prior told AFP in a statement.

“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Smollett had claimed that two masked men beat him late at night in downtown Chicago, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck — but police grew suspicious of his account after they failed to corroborate it.

Trump took aim at the actor for having tarnished his supporters, tweeting: “what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?“

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, which produce “Empire” and had stood by the actor, said “we understand the seriousness of this matter” and “are considering our options.”

Authorities said the two men who staged the attack with Smollett were brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who have both previously worked on “Empire,” and were acquaintances of the actor — while one provided him with drugs.

The brothers have cooperated with police since their arrest late last week and have not been charged with a crime.

Smollett allegedly first concocted a false threatening letter he had sent to himself — which is under a separate FBI investigation — and when that did not get enough attention, paid the brothers to have the assault staged.

Prosecutor Risa Lanier detailed an elaborate plot that Smollett allegedly orchestrated with exacting detail — telling the brothers when and how to attack him, including pointing out a street camera he assumed would capture the event, but was in fact pointing in a different direction.

The allegations were backed by a mountain of evidence, including a cashed check that Smollett wrote to pay for the stunt, authorities said.

Initial news of Smollett’s claims led to widespread condemnation and shock, and an outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians alike, including Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris who denounced “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Trump initially described the alleged attack as “horrible.”

Since then, Smollett’s story has become a cautionary tale in an era where incomplete information is quickly spread via social media.

Opinion writers have complained about a rush to judgment, and politicians, celebrities and nonprofit groups have felt pressure to explain their initial reactions.

The president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the Smollett news was “both devastating and frustrating.”

“I want to ask everyone feeling angry, hurt and disappointed to channel that into productive activism — because there are thousands targeted by hate violence each year who need our help,” Chad Griffin tweeted.