Libyan rival officials meet for UN-led talks on elections

Speaker of Libyan House of Representatives, UN Special Adviser on Libya and President of Libya's High State Council of State give a press conference at the UN in Geneva. (AFP)
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Updated 28 June 2022

Libyan rival officials meet for UN-led talks on elections

  • Two senior Libyan officials from the country's rival camps have begun talks on constitutional arrangements for elections

GENEVA: Two senior Libyan officials began two days of talks Tuesday on constitutional arrangements for elections, the latest UN effort to bridge gaps between the country’s rivals.
Aguila Saleh, the influential speaker of the country’s east-based parliament, and Khaled Al-Meshri, head of the government’s Supreme Council of State, based in the west, in the capital of Tripoli, met at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
According to the United Nations, the talks will focus on a draft constitutional framework for elections after Libya’s rival factions failed to reach an agreement in their last round of talks in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
Stephanie Williams, the UN special adviser on Libya, said they would discuss “timelines, modalities and milestones to guarantee a clear path to the holding of national elections as soon possible.”
“It is now the time to make a final and courageous effort to ensure that this historic compromise takes place, for the sake of Libya, the Libyan people and the credibility of its institutions,” she said.
The criteria for a presidential candidacy were a contentious point in the talks, according to Libyan media. The Tripoli-based council insisted on banning military personal from running for the country’s top post — apparently a move directed at the divisive commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are loyal to the east-based administration.
Haftar had announced his bid in elections slated for last December but the vote was not held because of myriad issues, including controversial hopefuls who had announced bids and disputes about election laws.
There are growing tensions on the ground, and sporadic clashes between rival militias recently erupted in Tripoli. Living conditions have also deteriorated, mainly because of fuel shortages in the oil-rich nation. Tribal leaders have shut down many oil facilities, including the country’s largest field.
The blockade was largely meant to cut off key state revenues to the incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who has refused to step down even though the vote was not held in December.
Now, Dbeibah and another prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, appointed by the east-based parliament to lead a transitional government, are claiming power. The rivalry has sparked fears the oil-rich country could slide back to fighting after tentative steps toward unity last year.
Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country was then for years split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.


Pakistan, Egypt resolve to strengthen cooperation in diverse fields 

Updated 1 min 28 sec ago

Pakistan, Egypt resolve to strengthen cooperation in diverse fields 

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fateh El-Sisi, PM Shehbaz Sharif speak over phone
  • PM assures Egyptian president of Pakistan’s support for climate change conference

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi over the phone, with the two leaders resolving to strengthen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. 

Muslim-majority states Pakistan and Egypt enjoy cordial ties with one another. Recently, the leadership of the two countries resolved to enhance bilateral trade. 

Islamabad and Cairo agreed to do this by facilitating businessmen from both countries with visas, exchanging trade-related information and promoting private sector contacts.

Friendly ties between the two countries can be traced back to 1947 when Pakistan gained independence and its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, visited Egypt at the special invitation of King Fuad II.

“The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in diverse fields and continue close collaboration on all issues of mutual interest,” the PMO statement said. 

In November 2022, Egypt will host the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Egyptian resort town Sharm El-Sheikh.

“The Prime Minister also assured the Egyptian President [of] Pakistan’s support to the Egyptian Presidency of CoP-27 for a successful Conference,” the statement said.

President El-Sisi offered condolences to the people of Pakistan for the precious lives lost and the damage inflicted by unprecedented floods in Pakistan. The Egyptian president announced relief assistance from Egypt for Pakistan’s flood affectees.

“The Prime Minister underscored that Pakistan was among the major victims of climate change, while its contribution to global emissions has been less than 1 percent,” the statement read.

PM Sharif briefed El-Sisi about the loss of lives, infrastructure, livelihood and crops owing to the devastation caused by the floods.

Islamabad is expected to present its case and recent climate initiatives taken by the government at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP-27) in Egypt.


Deaths after blast at educational center in Afghan capital: government 

Updated 15 min 26 sec ago

Deaths after blast at educational center in Afghan capital: government 

  • An educational center called ‘Kaj’ has been attacked in the Afghan capital Kabul 
  • Attacking civilian targets proves the enemy’s inhuman cruelty, Afghan interior ministry 

KABUL: An explosion at a learning center in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday morning has caused fatalities, the government said.
“An educational center called ‘Kaj’ has been attacked, which unfortunately has caused deaths and injuries,” interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor tweeted.
“Security teams have reached the site, the nature of the attack and the details of the casualties will be released later.
“Attacking civilian targets proves the enemy’s inhuman cruelty and lack of moral standards.”
Videos posted online and photos published by local media showed bloodied victims being carried away from the scene. 
 


22 Saudi cadets graduate from Pakistan Air Force Academy

Updated 27 min 47 sec ago

22 Saudi cadets graduate from Pakistan Air Force Academy

  • Both countries enjoy deep-rooted ties in culture, defense
  • Pakistan has trained many Saudi officers over the years

ISLAMABAD: Twenty-two candidates from Saudi Arabia completed their training at the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Asghar Khan Academy at Risalpur on Thursday.

The ceremony took place at the academy, located in the town of Risalpur in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s air forces enjoy cordial relations, with the former having trained many Saudi officers over the years. Last year, a Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) contingent of nearly 180 pilots and air engineering technicians participated in a two-week drill organized by the PAF.

“A total of 115 Aviation Cadets, 10 Gentleman Cadets and 22 Royal Saudi Air Force Cadets graduated at the passing out parade ceremony,” the PAF said in a statement.

“Best Allied Cadet Trophy for 92nd Royal Saudi Air Force Cadets’ Course was won by Royal Saudi Air Force Cadet Fahad Mobarak Al Johani whereas the Best Allied Cadet Trophy for 94th Royal Saudi Air Force Cadets’ Course was awarded to the Royal Saudi Air Force Cadet Waleed Khalid Abdullah Al Turki,” the statement read.

The chief guest, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Nadeem Raza awarded branch insignias to the graduating cadets and trophies to the distinction holders.

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, was also present at the graduation ceremony.

Islamabad and Riyadh enjoy deep-rooted brotherly and defense ties. In October last year, the naval forces of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia conducted the joint Naseem Al-Bahr 13 exercise in the Arabian Sea with the Saudi F-15 aircraft participating in a missile-firing drill for the first time.


At least 19 killed, 27 injured in suicide bombing in Afghan capital

Updated 10 min 4 sec ago

At least 19 killed, 27 injured in suicide bombing in Afghan capital

  • Students were preparing for an exam when a suicide bomber struck an educational center

KABUL: A suicide bombing at a learning center in the Afghan capital Kabul killed at least 19 people on Friday morning, police spokesman Khalid Zadran said.
“Students were preparing for an exam when a suicide bomber struck at this educational center. Unfortunately, 19 people have been martyred and 27 others wounded,” Zadran said.
The blast happened in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, a predominantly Shiite Muslim area in western Kabul home to the minority Hazara community, the scene of some of Afghanistan’s most deadly attacks.
“An educational center called ‘Kaj’ has been attacked, which unfortunately has caused deaths and injuries,” interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor tweeted.
“Attacking civilian targets proves the enemy’s inhuman cruelty and lack of moral standards.”
Videos posted online and photos published by local media showed bloodied victims being carried away from the scene.
The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan last year brought an end of the two-decade war and a significant reduction in violence, but security has begun to deteriorate in recent months under the hard-line Islamists.
Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazaras have faced persecution for decades, with the Taliban accused of abuses against the group when they first ruled from 1996 to 2001 and picking up again after they swept to power last year.
They are also the frequent target of attacks by the Taliban’s enemy the Daesh group. Both consider them heretics.
Countless attacks have devastated the area, with many targeting children, women and schools.
Last year, before the return of the Taliban, at least 85 people — mainly girl students — were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.
No group claimed responsibility, but a year earlier Daesh claimed a suicide attack on an educational center in the same area that killed 24, including students.
In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody gun attack on a maternity ward of a hospital in the neighborhood that killed 25 people, including new mothers.
Just months ago in April two deadly bomb blasts at separate education centers in the area killed six people and wounded at least 20 others.
Education is a flashpoint issue in Afghanistan, with the Taliban blocking many girls from returning to secondary school education, while Daesh also stand against the education of women and girls.


Taiwan inducts new amphibious ship in push to bolster indigenous defense industry

Updated 25 min 35 sec ago

Taiwan inducts new amphibious ship in push to bolster indigenous defense industry

  • The 10,600-ton Yu Shan is the latest in Taiwan’s ambitious program to modernize its armed forces

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan: Taiwan’s navy took delivery on Friday of a new, domestically made amphibious warfare ship that can be used to land troops and bolster supply lines to vulnerable islands, part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s defense self-sufficiency push.
The 10,600-ton Yu Shan, named after Taiwan’s tallest mountain, is the latest development in Tsai’s ambitious program to modernize the armed forces amid increased pressure from China, which claims the island as its own.
Speaking at the delivery ceremony in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, Tsai said the ship was a testament to Taiwan’s efforts to boost production of its own warships and achieve the goal of “national defense autonomy.”
“When it comes to China’s military threats, only by strengthening our self-defense capabilities can there be true peace,” she said. “It is our constant policy and determination to implement national defense autonomy so that the military has the best equipment to defend the country.”
China carried out war games near Taiwan last month to show its anger at a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Chinese military activity has continued though at a much-reduced tempo.
Built by state-backed CSBC Corporation Taiwan, the ship is armed with a cannon for use against air and surface targets, anti-aircraft missiles and rapid-fire Phalanx close-in anti-aircraft and anti-missile guns.
CSBC Chairman Cheng Wen-lung said as well as being an amphibious warfare vessel, with space for landing craft and helicopters, it will assume the “main transport role” for the South China Sea and offshore Taiwanese islands that lie close to the Chinese coast, long considered easy targets for China in the event of war.
Though the United States is Taiwan’s most important international arms supplier, Tsai has bolstered the domestic arms industry to try to make Taiwan as self-sufficient as possible.
Although Taiwan’s air force has benefited from big-ticket items such as new and upgraded F-16s, the navy is another of Tsai’s focuses, with submarines in production and a launch in 2020 of the first of a fleet of highly maneuverable stealth corvettes.