Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry shake hands as they leave a joint news conference following talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP)
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Updated 04 October 2021
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Lavrov, Shoukry discuss solutions to regional crises in Moscow

  • The two foreign ministers covered Syria, Palestine, Libya and the Renaissance Dam issue

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, have discussed developments in several regional issues, including the Renaissance Dam project and the crises in Libya and Syria, at a meeting in Moscow.

Shoukry said the talks covered efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and strengthening the two-state solution, and sponsoring all means to reach a permanent, comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian issue that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“I thank Russia for the support that Egypt has received from its side to address this issue in the (UN) Security Council, and we look forward to cooperating with Moscow on this issue, and reaching a binding legal solution that guarantees the rights of all parties, away from any unilateral policies inconsistent with the policies of international law,” Shoukry said during a press conference with Lavrov in the Russian capital.

“We will continue to closely coordinate on this matter, including the issue of Palestinian national reconciliation, in which Egypt plays the main role in order to achieve Palestinian unity, in addition to working to fulfill the interests of the brotherly Palestinian people,” Shoukry said.

He expressed his appreciation for the ministerial meetings between Cairo and Moscow and the holding of the joint commercial committee to promote the common interests of both parties, whether in the Dabaa nuclear plant or in promoting tourism.

“We look forward to continuing work to activate all these areas, and for the return of trade exchange to its levels, which was affected by the pandemic, but there is still fruitful cooperation as well as searching for more areas that strengthen relations,” Shoukry continued.

Shoukry added that he and his Russian counterpart discussed ways to maintain stability and territorial integrity in Libya. The foreign minister said they covered activating the plan approved during the meetings of the Libyan National Forum, the importance of holding presidential and legislative elections on Dec. 24, and the need to maintain a ceasefire and the exit of all foreign forces from Libyan territory.

“We will continue to provide all care and support to achieve these goals so that the Libyan institutions regain their full authority, and to preserve the sovereignty of the Libyan territories, stability and security, and the complete elimination of terrorist organizations, which operate and use the Libyan territories as a haven to influence the stability of Libya and the stability of neighboring countries and the stability of the Sahel and Sahara region,” Shoukry added.

Shoukry said that he briefed his Russian counterpart on the latest developments regarding the Renaissance Dam issue against the background of the presidential statement issued by the UN Security Council, expressing his thanks to Moscow for the support that Egypt received in addressing this issue with the UNSC.

Shoukry expressed his aspiration to continue cooperation between the two countries — given the existential nature of this issue for the future of Egypt — and the importance of urgently reaching an agreement through the presidency of the African Union.

The ministers also discussed the crisis in Syria and possible solutions that align with the decisions of international legitimacy. 

Shoukry said: “With regard to my meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, it was important for this meeting to take place in light of what the Syrian crisis has reached,” stressing Egypt’s keenness to help Syria out of its crisis.

The ministers also discussed the crisis in Syria and possible solutions that align with the decisions of international legitimacy. 

“Cairo considers Syria an integral part of the Arab domain and Arab national security, and historically the Egyptian-Syrian relations have always been of importance at the bilateral level, in addition to being one of the pillars of cooperation and coordination and support for maintaining Arab national security,” Shoukry added.

He said that Egypt will work with Syria to take measures that preserve the security and territorial integrity of the country.

“We await the measures that the Syrian government may take within the framework of the political solution in Syria, as well as activating the course of the constitutional committee’s discussions and taking into account the humanitarian situation in Syria to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and meet their needs.”

Lavrov stressed the need to provide aid to the Syrians to overcome the repercussions of the decade-long crisis, and work to reach a political settlement on the basis of UNSC resolutions.

Lavrov added that the terror threat in the Idlib region remains high, and that the terrorist groups stationed there are attacking the units of the Syrian army as well as Russian forces.


UN: Complex medical equipment ‘purposefully broken’ in Gaza hospitals

Updated 14 sec ago
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UN: Complex medical equipment ‘purposefully broken’ in Gaza hospitals

  • Speaking to journalists in Geneva via video link from Jerusalem, he described seeing “medical equipment purposefully broken, ultrasounds — which you will know, is a very important tool for helping ensure safe births — with cables that have been cut”

GENEVA: The UN has decried the intentional destruction of complex and hard-to-obtain medical equipment in Gaza’s beleaguered hospitals and maternity wards, further deepening risks to women already giving birth in “inhumane, unimaginable conditions.”
Recent UN-led missions to 10 Gaza hospitals found many “in ruins” and just a couple capable of providing any level of maternal health services, said Dominic Allen, the UN Population Fund or UNFPA representative for the state of Palestine.
He said that what the teams found at the Nasser Hospital complex, long besieged by Israeli forces during their operations in the southern city of Khan Younis, “breaks my heart.”

BACKGROUND

The World Health Organization has described the difficulty of bringing complex medical equipment into Gaza even before the current war erupted in October.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva via video link from Jerusalem, he described seeing “medical equipment purposefully broken, ultrasounds — which you will know, is a very important tool for helping ensure safe births — with cables that have been cut.”
“Screens of complex medical equipment, like ultrasounds and others with the screens smashed,” he added.
The World Health Organization has described the difficulty of bringing such equipment into Gaza even before the current war erupted following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack inside Israel.
Allen warned that this “purposeful, wanton destruction in the maternity ward,” coupled with other damage and lacking water, sanitation, and electricity, was complicating efforts to get what was previously the second-most important hospital in the Palestinian territory up and running again “to provide a lifeline.”
Meanwhile, at Al-Khair, another specialized maternity hospital in Khan Younis, “it didn’t seem as if there was any piece of working medical equipment,” he said, lamenting that the birthing rooms “stand silent.”
“They should be places that give life, but they just have an eerie sense of death.”
Only 10 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are currently even partially functioning.
And Allen said that only three of those were now capable of assisting the estimated 180 women giving birth across Gaza every single day — around 15 percent of whom suffer complications requiring significant care.
The hospitals that can provide such care are thus facing significant capacity constraints.
The Emirati Hospital in the south, the main maternity hospital in Gaza currently, is, for instance, supporting up to 60 births every day, including as many as 12 Caesarian sections, he said.
Given the heavy pressure on the facility, women are discharged just hours after giving birth, “and after C-sections, it is less than a day,” Allen said, stressing “that increases risks.”
He said there was a risk in the number of complicated procedures linked to “malnutrition, dehydration, and fear, which impact the pregnant woman’s ability to give birth safely and carry their baby to full term safely.”
A doctor at the Emirati hospital had told Allen that “he no longer sees normal-size babies.”
Amid a “completely crippled” health system in Gaza, the UNFPA is “deeply concerned about the ability to provide postnatal care,” he said.
He said the agency was deploying midwives and midwifery kits to makeshift school centers to help fill the gap.
The current war started after Hamas launched its unprecedented attack on Oct. 7.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children. according to the territory’s Health Ministry.

 


‘Ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is top priority’

Updated 6 min 32 sec ago
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‘Ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is top priority’

  • Fidan said the main cause of instability in the Middle East was Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and Western backing for Israel

ISTANBUL: The tension between Israel and Iran should not distract from the situation in Gaza, and the priority of the international community should be ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said.
Fidan was speaking in Istanbul on Saturday during Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit.
Shoukry urged Iran and Israel to exercise restraint.
Shoukry’s visit to Turkiye comes amid high tensions in the Middle East following the apparent Israeli attack on Iran. Israel has said nothing about the incident.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Fidan, Shoukry said the region was concerned about the ongoing escalation.
“We’ve warned of the expansion of the conflict from the very beginning,” he said.
“We’ve called on both parties (Iran and Israel) to exercise restraint.”
Fidan said the main cause of instability in the Middle East was Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and Western backing for Israel.
“Any development that could distract us from this fact should be ignored,” he said. “Our priority should be ending Israel’s occupation in Palestine and a two-state solution.”
He said he and Shoukry discussed efforts to deliver more humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Separately, Shoukry said Egypt would host a Turkish delegation to prepare for a visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Turkiye at a future date.
The ministers met as Gaza’s civil defense agency said an Israeli strike killed nine members of a Palestinian family, including six children, in the southern city of Rafah.
Five children aged one to seven and a 16-year-old girl were among the dead, along with two women and a man, according to the city’s Al-Najjar Hospital.
“Nine martyrs, including six children, were pulled out from the rubble after Israeli air forces struck a house of the Radwan family in Tal Al-Sultan in Rafah,” Gaza Civil Defense agency spokesman Mahmud Bassal said in a statement.

 


Emirates and flydubai resume normal operations after Dubai floods

Updated 20 April 2024
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Emirates and flydubai resume normal operations after Dubai floods

  • Researchers have linked extreme weather events such as Tuesday’s storm to climate change
  • Lack of drainage infrastructure puts countries such as the UAE at particular risk of flooding

RIYADH: Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates and sister airline flydubai have restored normal operations after heavy rains caused severe flooding across the United Arab Emirates earlier this week, the airlines said on Saturday.
Emirates canceled nearly 400 flights and delayed many more as a result of a record storm that hit the desert city of Dubai on Tuesday, said a statement released by the airline’s president, Tim Clark.
Due to the impact of the storm, the airline suspended check-in for passengers departing from Dubai and halted its transit operations through Dubai International Airport, a major global travel hub, leaving thousands of travelers stranded.
The airport has struggled to return to normal operations after the storm flooded taxiways, forcing flight diversions, delays and cancelations.
Flydubai also returned to its full flight schedule from the airport’s Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 on Saturday following the weather-related disruption, a spokesperson for the airline said.
Clark said Emirates had provided 12,000 hotel rooms and 250,000 meal vouchers to customers who were affected. He added it would take days to clear the backlog of rebooked passengers.
The UAE has suffered the impact of the flooding for days, with roads between the city and Abu Dhabi still partially under water as of Saturday. In Abu Dhabi, some supermarkets and restaurants faced product shortages, unable to receive deliveries from Dubai.
Researchers have linked extreme weather events such as Tuesday’s storm to climate change and anticipate that global warming will lead to higher temperatures, increased humidity and a greater risk of flooding in parts of the Gulf region.
A lack of drainage infrastructure to cope with heavy rains in countries such as the UAE can put them at particular risk of flooding.


‘No retreat,’ vows Hezbollah deputy amid renewed border clashes

Updated 20 April 2024
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‘No retreat,’ vows Hezbollah deputy amid renewed border clashes

  • Naim Qassem promises ‘proportionate response’ to any escalation by Israel

BEIRUT: Hezbollah on Saturday launched a series of strikes against the Israeli army, targeting military sites near Lebanon’s southern border from Hermon to the coastal city of Naqoura.

The group said that it fired missiles at Israeli soldiers deployed near Har Addir mountain, opposite Rmaych, a mostly Christian village on the border.

It also targeted “spy equipment” in the Israeli outpost of Al-Raheb, opposite the Lebanese village of Aita Al-Shaab.

Hezbollah said that an operation targeting the Hadb Yarin outpost “with appropriate weapons” resulted in direct hits,” while Ruwaizat Al-Alam in the Kfar Shouba Hills was struck with with four missiles.

Sirens sounded in Even Menachem in western Galilee, and in the Shomera and Kiryat Shmona settlements in response to fears of a Hezbollah drone attack.

Israeli media later confirmed damage to farm property in Even Menachem caused by Hezbollah rockets.

Most residents have fled southern areas of Lebanon after 196 days of clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in the wake of the Gaza conflict.

Israeli airstrikes targeted a house in Kfarkela and the town of Aita Al-Shaab, while Israeli artillery shelled the town of Dhayra.

Reports said a person injured in the Kfarkela strike had been taken to hospital.

The Israeli army fired flares over villages in the western and central areas of the border region late on Friday. Reconnaissance aircraft flew throughout the night over border villages adjacent to the Blue Line, reaching the outskirts of Tyre.

Hezbollah officials said that “we will respond proportionately to any Israeli violation of the established ceiling in the confrontation.”

The group’s deputy, Naim Qassem, said: “If any escalation reaches a certain level, we will confront it as required.”

He added: “There is no withdrawal from the confrontation, and no retreat from support for and protection of Gaza.”

Fighting in southern Lebanon will continue until Israel halts its attacks on Gaza, Qassem said.

“This support is for Gaza and Lebanon as well because whoever sees what is happening in Gaza knows that if they remain silent, they will be next, and they know that if they allow the Israelis to be arrogant, the Israelis will believe they can do whatever they want,” he said.

Hezbollah Central Council member Hassan Al-Baghdadi said that Israel “has not had a worse time than now,” adding: “This can be observed from the reaction of its agents.”

 


Source close to Hezbollah says three fighters killed in Israel strike

Updated 20 April 2024
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Source close to Hezbollah says three fighters killed in Israel strike

  • Hezbollah said it had fired on several Israeli targets, including soldiers and spy equipment
  • The violence has killed at least 375 people in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Three Hezbollah fighters were killed Saturday in an Israeli strike on a house in southern Lebanon, a source close to the Iran-backed group told AFP.
“Three Hezbollah fighters were killed, and two others seriously wounded in an Israeli air strike on a house in the area of Al-Jebbayn,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported earlier on Saturday that “enemy aircraft carried out a strike targeting a house in Al-Jebbayn, and rescue teams were headed to the area.”
Hezbollah said it had fired on several Israeli targets, including soldiers and spy equipment.
Since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in Gaza, there have been near-daily cross-border exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally.
The violence has killed at least 375 people in Lebanon, mostly fighters but including 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
In northern Israel, 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed, according to the army.
In recent days, Hezbollah has intensified its attacks against Israeli military positions, with tensions across the Middle East surging.
On April 13, Iran, which supports both Hezbollah and Hamas, launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 air strike which levelled its consulate in Damascus.