Sunday, April 29, 2018

Algeria Sentences Liberian to Death Over Espionage for Israel
The court also sentenced six individuals from Guinea and Mali to 10 years in jail on the same case. (Shutterstock)

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English
Wednesday, 25 April 2018

An Algerian criminal court has awarded death penalty to a Lebanese-born Liberian national over a case of spying for Israel. The court also sentenced six individuals from Guinea and Mali to 10 years in jail in the same case.

A legal source said on Tuesday that the “Ghardaïa court south of Algeria has condemned seven individuals of different African nationalities on a case related to espionage for Israel.”

“The main accused Elm al-Deen Faisal, a Liberian national, earned death penalty, while six others were sentenced to 10-year imprisonment. Each one of them will also pay an $8,000 fine,” the source added.

The seven defendants were arrested in an Algerian police operation in the city of Ghardaïa, 600 kilometers south of Algiers, in January 2015. They were found with documents and communications equipment, which prosecutors said were related to spying for Israel.

The defendants’ lawyers claimed that “the evidence is inadequate and incoherent, therefore charges cannot be made based on a delicate and sensitive issue such as espionage.”

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 KSA 11:17 - GMT 08:17
Death Penalty for Alleged Mossad Spy Sentenced in Algeria

Seven individuals accused of spying on behalf of the Mossad, Israel’s secret spy agency, were sentenced on Monday by a criminal court in Algeria, with one of the accused given the death penalty, local media reported on Tuesday.The leader of the squad, a man of Lebanese descent with Liberian citizenship, was charged with seeking “to harm the security of Algeria” and was given the death penalty.

The other six members of group, who were said to be of African origin, were given ten year jail sentences and each fined 20 million Algerian dinar.According to Jerusalem Post citing local Algerian media, they were charged with espionage “possession and dissemination of documents that glorified terrorism,” and undermining state security.The defendants reportedly pleaded not guilty to their charges.Algeria's Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui said the exposure of the "international spy ring" working for Israel was clear proof that the Mossad and other foreign entities were trying to undermine the country's security and stability, Ynet reported.In January 2016, security services in Algeria announced they had exposed the aforementioned spy network and subsequently arrested at least 10 agents.

Site of assassination of Dr Fadi al-Batash in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 21, 2018
The Algerian incident follows on from gunning down of a Palestinian and Hamas-affiliated engineer, Dr Fadi Mohammad al-Batash, 35, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur last week.

Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad terrorist group have claimed it to be an assassination carried out by the Mossad.Israel has dismissed claims that the country's spy agency was behind Batash's killing, suggesting instead that his killing was a "settling of accounts" between sparring terrorist factions.

Hamas has previously accused the Mossad of assassinating another one of its drone experts -- Mohamed Zouari -- in Tunisia in 2016.The Mossad is believed to have assassinated Palestinian militants and scientists in the past, but rarely confirms such operations.

Back in November of last year, Lebanese authorities arrested and raided the home of prominent writer and actor Ziad Itani on charges of “collaborating and communicating with the Israeli enemy.”He was detained and eventually confessed to having been “tasked to monitor a group of high-level political figures” and their associates.

However, in February of this year, he was released as authorities claimed the the “confession” was extracted under duress and that the security apparatus had received the wrong information.Muslim countries have in the past accused its locals and foreigners of acting as agents on behalf of the Jewish State.
Migrants are being trapped for longer by armed groups that are trying to extort more money from them through torture, said two volunteers who work with migrant communities in Tripoli.

FILE: A migrant is rescued from the Mediterranean sea by a member of Proactiva Open Arms NGO north of Libya on 3 October 2016. Picture: AFP


TRIPOLI - Conditions for migrants already suffering severe abuse in Libya have deteriorated further since a European-backed push to stop boat departures led to a sharp drop in the number of crossings to Italy, community representatives say.

Migrants are being trapped for longer by armed groups that are trying to extort more money from them through torture, said two volunteers who work with migrant communities in the capital, Tripoli.

Departures from Libya accelerated rapidly in 2014 as armed conflict spread, with more than 600,000 crossing the central Mediterranean in the past four years.

But the number of mainly sub-Saharan African migrants reaching Italy has fallen sharply since last July when a major smuggling group in the Libyan coastal city of Sabratha struck a deal to halt departures under Italian pressure and was then forced out in clashes.

Libya’s EU-backed coastguard has also returned more migrants to Libya after intercepting them at sea.

So far this year, just over 6,400 migrants have crossed from Libya to Italy, a drop of more than 80% compared to the same period last year, according to Italian interior ministry data.

For those inside Libya the situation is “unbearable”, said Osman, a Sudanese community representative in Tripoli.

“Before, it was possible that they took money and then left (the migrants. Now they take the money and then torture them with fire, with electricity.”

“The torture has increased. The sea route is shut … if you can’t travel there’s more torture.”

After losing secure camps on the coast where they used to hold migrants before sending them to sea, smugglers are operating further inland, particularly in desert areas around Bani Walid, about 145km southeast of Tripoli, said Khadija, an Eritrean long-term resident of Tripoli who volunteers to help African migrants.


Like Osman, she asked only to be identified by her first name. Both were speaking at a community centre in Tripoli run by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

“They are gangs and (the migrants) are delivered from one gang to another. I take my share then you receive the migrant and take your share, and so on,” Khadija said, adding that they are asking for more money than before.

The business is largely run by Libyan and east African smugglers, she said. Pictures or videos of torture are sent to families to pressure them into making money transfers from home countries.

Since the clashes in Sabratha last September many migrants who were held in government-run detention centres have been repatriated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), or through bilateral flights.

UNHCR has also begun resettling small numbers of refugees and evacuating others through Niger, though the Niger evacuations have been suspended because of delays in resettlement to European countries.

But hundreds of thousands of other migrants reside openly in Libya or are held by smuggling networks or for forced labour, often in dire conditions.

Aid workers say the health of migrants passing through the Bani Walid area has deteriorated, including cases of malnutrition and active tuberculosis.

A safe house in Bani Walid that takes in migrants who are so weakened from illness or abuse that they are abandoned by smugglers, has received more than 3,000 migrants since it was set up 14 months ago.

On a recent Sunday, about a dozen sub-Saharan African migrants were sitting or squatting in a courtyard, some with serious injuries from their journeys or from smuggler abuse.

Youssef, a 24-year-old from Senegal staying at the shelter, said he had been held for three months in a hidden prison outside Bani Walid before his parents managed to raise $1,500 to get him released.

“We were beaten, given electric shocks, we didn’t have anything to eat,” he said. “There were people who died in there.”
Libya’s Foreign Militias
The presence of foreign armed groups in Libya’s south poses an increasing threat to local security and regional political ties.

By Thomas Howes-Ward

A member of the rebel movement Sudan Liberation Army (Abdul Wahid faction) stands guard as people stand in line for the arrival of an African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) delegation to open a new clinic in Forog, north Darfur May 30, 2012. Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID/Reuters

On March 13, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) issued a statement of concern at ongoing violence in Sabha, a city in Libya’s impoverished south where a flare-up in tensions since late January has to date killed a number of civilians. The area is contested between forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) and ethnic groups aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Conflicting reports regarding who was responsible for instigating the violence emerged in the aftermath of the communal conflict. Yet in a statement condemning the violence, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s Presidential Council, which heads the GNA, did not charge Haftar’s forces with provocation, but placed the blame squarely on the presence of foreign mercenaries, namely of Sudanese and Chadian origin. Following this statement, the mayor of Sabha, Hamid al-Khayali, declared in an incendiary outburst to Libyan television that “foreign forces are occupying Libya’s south,” an issue “on the shoulders of all Libyans.” Until recently, the presence of non-Libyan fighting groups had largely gone unnoticed in the chaos engulfing Libya.

Reports from Sabha have confirmed the Sudanese government’s claims that Darfuri rebel groups are active in Libya. Both the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the two main rebel groups in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, maintain a presence in Libya’s lawless south, allegedly in Haftar’s employ. A 2017 report by the UN Panel of Experts on Libya describes these groups as an “increasing threat” and explicitly links SLA activities with Haftar’s LNA. Both main factions of the SLA—the forces of Minni Minnawi and Abdul Wahid al-Nur—are in Libya, and while estimates of their numbers are imprecise, sources interviewed by the UN panel stated that al-Nur’s branch alone has 1,500 fighters in Libya at any one time. In addition, one former JEM commander, Abdallah Jana, is known to operate with a convoy of at least 70 vehicles, and the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) group claimed to have 700 fighters in Libya as of December 2016, although the UN report remarks that this number could have increased to between 1,000 and 1,500 fighters. The Chadian government is even suspected of pushing its rebels over the border into Libya to “keep them busy.”

Haftar has denied using Darfuri militias and accused the Sudanese government of meddling in Libyan affairs. Both the Sudanese JEM and the Chadian FACT officially deny taking sides in the conflict, but senior commanders quietly say the opposite. Ibrahim Al-Bagdadi, JEM’s chief of armament, told Sudan’s Blue Nile TV “it’s business.” While their initial involvement may indeed have been mercenary in nature, alignment with any side has unavoidable political ramifications. Whenever questioned on the matter, Colonel Ahmed al-Mismari, chief spokesman of the LNA, repeatedly maintains that there is “a clear conspiracy” wherein the Sudanese, Qatari, and Iranian governments secretly colluded to support terrorism in Libya. In June 2017, al-Mismari alleged that this collusion spread so far as to involve the provision of weapons and ammunition to the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Islamist militias, and even to the Islamic State. The next month, during an interview on Egyptian television, he produced a 30-page document supposedly written by the Sudanese Armed Forces, which detailed a program of supplying arms to militant groups.

Regardless of the bluster over who is aligned with whom, the presence of foreign forces on Libyan soil struck a nerve and has led to a notable increase in domestic pressure to curtail the influence of the Chadian and Darfuri militias. Significantly, the presence of these groups upsets the delicate ethnic and tribal balance in Libya’s south, which could prove to be a wildcard in an area where Tuareg–Tebu hostilities have frequently boiled over. Some Darfuris are related to, or share old alliances with, the Tebu. Recognition of this distrust has persuaded Haftar’s LNA forces to reevaluate their allegiances with foreign militias, at least outwardly. Airstrikes launched on March 19 against “foreigners” and “Africans” aimed to minimize any damage to Haftar’s public image. However, although a few positions of the Darfuri JEM were also reported to have been struck, they mainly targeted the Chadian FACT rebel group, known allies of the anti-Haftar Misratan Third Force.

Haftar’s use of Darfur militias to ensure greater control of Libyan territories overlooks regional politics. Sudan’s government contends that Haftar’s approach is a continuation of Qaddafi-era policies that intended to destabilize Sudan. At this stage it seems doubtful that this is Haftar’s focus—which is more about bolstering the number of troops he commands—but it creates yet another vested interest in a conflict already saturated with outside interference. Haftar gambled that the Sudanese government would be incapable of formulating a meaningful response because its reach in Libya is more limited than that of Libya’s North African neighbors. Thus far, it has paid off. The Darfuri groups have proven effective on the battlefield and are viewed as more expendable than the Libyan rank-and-file of the LNA. The 2017 report from the UN Panel of Experts credits the SLA with playing a major role in the LNA’s push to control Libya’s strategic “oil crescent,” which includes the exporting port towns of Ras Lanuf, Sidra, and Brega. Sudanese media reported JEM involvement, noting at least 118 JEM fatalities in greater Sirte, although evidence that they died in that specific campaign is equivocal.

Sudan’s government is justifiably alarmed at the dangers posed by these fighters returning from Libya. Worryingly, Egyptian weaponry has surfaced in Darfur, and the UAE has financed the rebel groups via their connection with Haftar. The Sudanese government is sounding alarm bells that Haftar’s association with the SLA and JEM movements threatens the already fragile situation in Darfur, currently Africa’s longest running internal conflict. Inevitably, the Sudanese government will seek to capitalize on rhetoric against the rebel SLA and JEM groups, whose involvement in Libya has already had tangible effects on Sudan’s own security. Government security forces in Darfur have been targeted by at least one attack launched from Libyan territory and face further challenges monitoring the Darfuri rebel groups once they leave Sudanese soil. Such attacks threaten Darfur’s current relative peace—as do the networks bringing weapons, hard cash, and returning fighters into Darfur—at a time when the Sudanese government has made progress in improving the security situation by implementing a disarmament campaign for Darfur.

In the absence of a centralized Libyan state force capable of asserting a monopoly on violence, it is largely down to the Sudanese government to take action against the Darfuri groups. This is unlikely to involve military intervention, as apart from a brief incursion into Libya’s south in support of anti-Qaddafi revolutionaries in July 2011 there is no precedent or support for Sudanese troops operating in Libya. The focus is instead on securing the vast, porous borders shared by Chad, Sudan, and Libya, which have allowed Darfuri groups to transit between states with relative ease. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir described the joint Sudan-Chad border force as “a model for establishing security” and has instigated a dramatic upturn in Sudanese-Chadian relations since 2010, a rare positive change for the region. Before 2010, the Chadian government had backed the SLA and JEM, offering safe havens in Chad from which they could operate with impunity and a reportedly “strong bond with the Chadian military.”

The exploitation of Libya’s lawlessness by hiring the SLA, JEM, and FACT sets a dangerous example. These rebel groups have no remit for involvement in the Libyan conflict beyond material gain, siding with Haftar purely to accrue arms and funding that will benefit them upon returning to Sudan. Haftar and other Libyan actors have embraced the assistance of another state’s rebels, enabling the conflation of mercenary activities abroad with domestic political goals. Consequently, the Sudanese government finds itself in the frustrating position of having its foes empowered by a foreign agent over which it has little sway—one uninterested in regional politics but that might spark future conflict within Sudan. For Libya, the UN Panel of Experts report has proved to be a wakeup call, increasing domestic demands for foreign armed groups to leave Libyan territory and highlighting a sense of distrust at any Libyan force that associates with them. But if Libya’s 2018 presidential and legislative elections go ahead as planned, and Khalifa Haftar becomes the president of Libya, his ties with these forces will ensure that Sudanese–Libyan relations take a nosedive.

This article is reprinted with permission of Sada. It can be accessed online here.

Thomas Howes-Ward is an MA candidate at the University of Exeter and the Middle East editor for KettleMag. Follow him on Twitter @thowesward.
Neo-colonial Libya, US Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
April 28, 2018 - 21:22

The Libyan deputy foreign minister of Presidential Council government Lutfi Al-Maghrabi signed with the US Charge d'Affaires to Libya, Stephanie Williams, a security cooperation agreement in Tunisia.

Media office of the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that the signing included a memorandum of intent for airport security and a letter of agreement to support Libyan policing, corrections and justice sector development.

"The signing opens the door for training Libyan cadres in the aforementioned fields with the funding and assistance of the US." The foreign ministry's statement reads.

The two sides renewed support for the efforts of the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, to push forward the Libyan political process and achieve stability.
Tunisia Security, Military Vote at Polls for 1st Time
2018-04-29 23:59:3
Editor: Li Xia

Tunisian soldiers guard a polling station in Tunis, capital of Tunisia, on April 29, 2018. Tunisian soldiers and police participate in voting for municipal elections, which will kick off on May 6, for the first time in Tunisian history.(Xinhua/Adele Ezzine)

TUNIS, April 29 (Xinhua) -- About 60,000 Tunisian security and military agents visited 359 voting offices on Sunday to cast their ballots for the first time for the municipal election.

The polling took place one week earlier than that of civilians.

Mohamed Tlili Mansri, president of the Independent Higher Authority for Elections said it is also the first local election since 2011.

The results of security and military agents will remain preserved and closed in the polling centers and will be mixed with the ballot of civilian votes on May 6, in order to ensure the discretion.

The Tunisian municipal election campaign has already started on April 15 and will end on May 4, 2018, thus giving way to the "election silence" of a day before the May 6th election.
Tunisia Needs Dialogue to Solve Economic Crisis: Islamist Leader
Tarek Amara, Ulf Laessing

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia needs a national dialogue to end a deadlock over economic reforms in the same way it solved a political crisis in 2013 that almost tore apart the birthplace of the Arab spring, the head of the co-ruling Islamist party said.

Since an uprising that ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has a new constitution, free elections and a coalition government with secular and Islamist parties in a region otherwise struggling with upheaval.

But the North African country has been grappling with an economic crisis and youth unemployment of about 30 percent as turmoil has deterred investors, surviving at the mercy of foreign donors.

Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party in power with secular forces, said Tunisia needed a dialogue on a technocratic level to tackle reforms such as trimming its bloated public sector, a key demand of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, speaks during the movement's congress in Tunis, Tunisia May 20, 2016. Zoubeir Souissi
“Now it’s the decisive time for major reforms,” Ghannouchi told Reuters in an interview. “We need an economic consensus like we had a political one to make the revolution a success.”

Many normal Tunisians say that while they enjoy the most liberal political system in the region, they are materially worse off than before 2011, with annual inflation hitting a record level of 7.6 percent in January.

Protests broke out in January this year across the country with young people complaining they cannot get jobs.

Seven prime ministers have failed since 2011 to cut down the public services and loss-making state firms as unions or other groups have blocked reforms.

“There is a dialogue between parties and organizations to find a consensus for economic issues but this cannot go on forever,” Ghannoushi said. “There is no alternative to experts sitting down and agreeing on details of the reform solutions.”

Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet made up of unions and civic groups won in 2015 the Nobel Peace prize for mediating between secular forces and Ennahda, which had won the first elections since 2011.

Rached Ghannouchi, the head of the Islamist party Ennahda, speaks during an interview with at Reuters journalists in Tunis, Tunisia, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Political assassinations and protests of secular Tunisians against Islamists had escalated until a consensus was reached on a constitution enshrining women’s and democratic rights.

Exiled during the time of Ben Ali, Ghannouchi has been a major force in the post-revolution transformation.

The 76-year-old remains a dominant figure who critics say effectively controls the country in tandem with the secular-minded President Beji Caid Essebsi, 91, dubbed the “two sheikhs” in reference to their age.

Ghannouchi said his party preferred stability to push through reforms instead of changing the prime minister again. When asked about the performance of the government he said: “Not worse than the previous ones.”

Reporting by Ulf Laessing, Editing by William Maclean
Egyptian Actor Mahmoud Morsi: A Touch of Genius
Ashraf Gharib
Friday 27 Apr 2018

The famous Egyptian actor died fourteen years ago this Tuesday

Egyptian actor Mahmoud Morsi, who died in 24th April 2004, remained an enigma behind which lay a thick wall of genius in both choice and performance.

He strongly protected himself from the media’s eyes, which he avoided almost totally throughout his entire life.

Some have said that the mystery with which he surrounded himself contributed to his stardom -- as if shunning the limelight were the secret behind his permanent presence in memories and minds. What a strange paradox!

Mahmoud Morsi was the only star whose fame needed no help from media. He was also the only one who attained such stardom through a limited number of roles.

Acting in TV series did not diminish his presence, although it was his favourite contribution in the last twenty-five years of his life.

Mahmoud Morsi was born in Alexandria in 7th June 1923. He studied at the Institute of Post-Graduate Cinematic Studies (EIDIC) in Paris and was a long-time lecturer in the Higher Institute of Cinema, though he didn’t direct a single film.

Morsi taught acting theory at the Higher Institute for Theatrical Arts in Cairo, but was not even well known as a stage actor -- a total paradox!

His blue eyes combined harshness and meekness, fierceness and good-heartedness, good and evil.

In spite of all these characteristics, his easiness in moving from one mood to another needed no more than a fraction of a second.

His red face did not conceal his genuine Egyptianess, and his unhurried movement before the camera didn't lessen our sensation of his vivid and flowing performance.

As for his high-pitched voice, it did not hinder him at all from expressing the most delicate human feelings. He is indeed an artist who is full of contradictions -- but those were his tools.

Morsi acted in only 25 films.

He debuted in I am the Fugitive (1962, Niazi Mostafa) and ended his run with The Sword’s Blade (1986, Atef Salem).

Throughout his cinematic career, Morsi shifted from evil to good roles, which sometimes gave way into grey area.

In his villain stage, he shone as the police chief in Prince of Cunningness (1964, Barakat), the British commander in The Price of Freedom (1964, Nour El-Demerdash), the pagan tribe chieftain in Dawn of Islam (1971, Salah Abu-Seif) and as the extremely harsh prison warden in Night and Rods (1973, Ashraf Fahmi).

All these roles, as you can see, are of chiefs and military commanders that required the display of a considerable amount of hardness and might.

This style of role reached its zenith in his most famous cinematic roles ever: his role as Atrees the Elder of the Dahashna clan in A Touch of Fear (1969, Hussein Kamal).

The haughty figure ruled his village ruthlessly, and nobody could confront his tyranny except his old flame Fouada.

However, the evil of Mahmoud Morsi’s characters was not, in many cases, pure. Cloaked in good heartedness, over bursts of villainous behaviour, Morsi's characters often embodied ethical grey areas.

Consequently, the viewer felt a certain amount of sympathy towards those characters, which were, after all, motivated by natural human weakness.

This area permitted Morsi to exercise his favourite game, moving from ferocity to meekness and vice-versa.

In The Last Night (1963, Kamal El-Sheikh), Morsi co-starred with Faten Hamama, he played a man who committed a heinous crime albeit for a noble cause.

He exploited an innocent amnesiac woman and made her believe that she was his wife in order to bring up his daughter -- her niece -- after his wife’s death in an air raid.
He then exerted every imaginable effort to stop this woman from regaining her real persona.

In the same year, in The Open Door (directed by Barakat), Morsi played an academic professor whose outer appearance is ravishing while his inside is totally different.

In The Quail and Autumn (1967, Hossam Eddine Mostafa), based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz, he played a man who lost his influence, became unable to adapt with the new reality, secluded himself and grew bitter to all those surrounding him.

In The Beggar (1973, Hossam Eddine Mostafa) -- also based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz -- Morsi transcended the model of moving smoothly from good to evil and exhibited a more philosophical proposition.

The protagonist searches for a satisfying answer about being and nothingness, existence, death and even the meaning of life in its entirety.

The protagonist’s perplexity led him to experiment with everything from sensual pleasures to the world of mysticism.

Continuing on the same path of grey-area characters, there is of course Morsi's important film My Wife and the Dog (1971, Said Marzouk) in which he plays a man with a debauched past who begins to suspect his wife of the same.

In Saad the Orphan (1985, Ashraf Fahmy), he plays a greedy man who agrees to kill his brother for the sake of money and influence, although he is very delicate and kind with his daughter and his nephew, neither of whom know anything about the murder until the very end.

This role is very similar to one that he played in the TV series The Firebird (1987, Mohammed Fadel).

Mahmoud Morsi’s efforts on stage started three years after his debut in Bitter Grapes (1965, Farouk Agrama) in which he played a big-hearted farm owner taking care of a poor girl -- much unlike the villain played by Ahmed Ramzy.

Then Morsi continued playing the idealistic character in other films such as The Sad Night-Bird (1967, Yehia El-Alamy), but his more memorable performances came in both A Song on the Corridor (1972, Ali Abdel-Khalelk) in which he personified an Egyptian soldier defending his position until his last breath during the 1967 defeat -- and in his final film The Sword’s Blade, in which he played an undersecretary obliged to play a musical instrument behind a belly dancer in order to meet his family’s needs.

Even in his repeated excursions into TV dramas, Morsi did not move away from his usual roles in cinema.

He was either an idealistic dreamer, as in The Trip of Mr. Abu-Ela Al-Bishry (1985, Mohammed Fadel) and in The Family (1994, Ismail Abdel-Hafez); a cunning man in When the Fox Fled (1999, Mohammed El-Naggar); or in the grey, area as in The Firebird.

However, in all these roles he held a tight grip on the threads of his characters and articulated them with exquisite cleverness.

For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at@AhramOnlineArtsand on Facebook atAhram Online: Arts & Culture
Egypt's Sisi Commemorates Sinai Liberation Day With Top Military and State Officials
Ahram Online
Saturday 28 Apr 2018

The president said that 'the most pressing challenge facing Egypt is to preserve the cohesion of the Egyptian state and the unity of its people'

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi commemorated the 36th anniversary of the liberation of Sinai on Saturday at the 28th educational seminar organised by the Egyptian armed forces,according to a statement by the Egyptian presidency.

The event was attended by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Defence Minister Sedki Sobhy, and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mohamed Farid, as well as a number of ministers, governors, journalists, students of the military institute and Egyptian universities, and members of Sinai tribes.

The proceedings of the seminar began with screening of a documentary film called Sinai: The Legend of a Place and the Epic Story of a People, which reviews the efforts to liberate Sinai in times of war and peace.

The film highlights the sacrifices of the martyrs of the armed forces to liberate Sinai from occupation, and the ongoing efforts to combat terrorism and eliminate it from the peninsula as part of the ongoing Operation Sinai 2018 agaist terrorism, as well as ongoing efforts and projects to develop Sinai in a comprehensive way.

El-Sisi explained the tremendous efforts that have been made to rebuild the armed forces after 1967, paying tributes to the great achievements of the armed forces during this phase.

The president stressed the importance of not allowing any kind of threat to the security and stability of Egypt, praising, in this context, the strategic vision of late president Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat and his courage in making the decisions of war and peace, especially in the light of the difficulties and the great obstacles surrounding his peace initiative, the statement read.

The president said that the most pressing challenge facing Egypt is an internal not an external challenge, explaining the challenge is to preserve the cohesion of the Egyptian state and the unity of its people.

El-Sisi also stressed that "the security and military measures undertaken in Sinai are indispensable to protect this dear part of the homeland," the statement said.

On 25 April, Egypt celebrates the completion of the withdrawal of Israeli military from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, following the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signed by late President Sadat.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League and former Egypt Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who was among the attendees, spoke during the event about the epic story of liberating Sinai starting with the war of attrition 1967-1970 through the October 1973 war, and the parallel political and diplomatic efforts to achieve peace.

Ibrahim Mahlab, the president's aide for national and strategic projects, highlighted sustainable developmental efforts in Sinai in the areas of housing, education, health, job creation and infrastructure, saying the project of developing the peninsula could cost EGP 275 billion.

During the event, Sheikh Hassan Khalaf, a vetran Sinai fighter who was taken prisoner of war by Israel before the armed forces secured his freedom in a prisoner exchange deal, highlighed the deep relationship between the sons of Sinai and the armed forces in defending the peninsula.

Sinai native Salwa Salem Al-Harsh, the grandaughter of one of Sinai's most prominent tribal leaders, stressed during the event the readiness of Sinai residents to sacrifice their lives for Egypt, and to protect and develop Sinai.

El-Sisi urged officials to complete the ongoing project to develop Sinai by 2022.
Sisi Hails Ordinary Egyptians for Bearing Brunt of Economic Reforms at Workers' Day Celebrations
Ahram Online
Sunday 29 Apr 2018

At an event to mark International Workers Day on 1 May, the Egyptian president acknowledged the sacrifices of low-income households and thanked workers for their contribution to the economy

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi hailed on Sunday the Egyptian people for bearing the brunt of the economic reform program, while stressing that more work is needed to keep the economy on track.

"All the thanks and gratitude goes to the Egyptians for their extraordinary efforts," El-Sisi said at a labor day event, which was hosted by the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) to mark the 1 May International Workers Day celebrations.

"Ordinary people withstood the tough impacts of the economic reform program, making sincere sacrifices," the President said.

The event was attended by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Minister of Manpower Mohamed Saafan, as well as the Head of the ETUF Gibali Al-Meraghi.

The president also highlighted "the great achievements of Egypt's workers over the past four years," adding that more hard work is needed.

"Your efforts are greatly valued and you will bear the fruits of your achievements very soon, although you will have to bear more with me," said El-Sisi.

"The new Suez Canal, which was built in one year, the tunnels which were dug in one year, the electric power plants built in two years, all the road networks and many other projects, were implemented by you," El-Sisi said.

El-Sisi went on to explain that despite the impact on low-income familes across Egypt, the economic reforms were necessary.

"We could not turn a blind eye to the reform program, otherwise the challenges would have been vast," he said.

He explained that the reform program had succeeded in achieving its aims.

In addition, he said, the reforms had shown the world the strong will of the Egyptians and their understanding of the problems their country is currently facing.

In his speech, Minister of Manpower Saafan highlighted the ministry's recent efforts to create more job opportunities for Egyptians. He said 285,282 jobs had been created in Egypt in the past year, while 475,00 new jobs had been secured outside Egypt in 16 different countries during the same period.

He added that trade union elections are expected to be held in May, the first such elections since 2016.

Speaking about the new labor law proposals, which are being discussed by parliament, Safaan said his ministry is working to establish a fair and balanced relationship between employers and workers.

"We have worked on new bylaws that aim to achieve balance between the rights of the employer and the worker, avoiding all the issues that were in the old law," said Safaan.

The Head of the ETUF El-Maraghi praised president Sisi's attention to implementing social insurance policies to protect temporary and seasonal workers.

"The Egyptian Trade Union movement has witnessed defining moments in its history since last year's Workers' Day celebration, represented by the modernization of labor legislation systems, which paves the way for the main production forces, the government, workers and employers to achieve prospects of decent life and secure jobs, El-Maraghi said in comments at the event.

President El-Sisi asked trade union workers to choose their representatives in the elections carefully.

Egypt celebrates Workers' Day on 1 May, marking the event with a national holiday.
No One Hurt, No Artifacts Damaged in Scaffolding Fire Outside Grand Egyptian Museum: Ministry
Nevine El-Aref
Sunday 29 Apr 2018

No one was harmed and no artefacts were damaged in the fire that engulfed part of the scaffolding outside the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau earlier on Sunday, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities told Ahram Online.

One hour after the fire broke out, the museum’s fire station, with aid from Civilian Security fire trucks, succeeded in extinguishing the flames, Waziri said.

The Minister of Antiquities, the Governor of Cairo and the Head of the Armed Forces Engineering Authority have visited the site to inspect the scene.

An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the blaze.

The GEM is currently under construction, with scaffolding positioned outside several buildings.

The museum is being built to house antiquities from ancient Egypt, including many items currently held at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

A partial opening is planned for later this year.
Firefighters Extinguish Blaze on Scaffolding at Grand Egyptian Museum
Nevine El-Aref
Sunday 29 Apr 2018

The fire at the GEM construction site was quickly brought under control, with no casualties and no damage to the museum buildings

Firefighters extinguished a blaze on Sunday on the scaffolding outside the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau.

The fire was quickly extinguished, according to eyewitnesses, with no casualties reported and no damage to the museum itself.

The GEM is currently under construction, with scaffolding positioned outside several buildings.

The Ministry of Antiquities is to publish a detailed report on the causes of the blaze and the successful response of emergency services.

The GEM is being built to house antiquities from Ancient Egypt, including many items currently held at the Egytian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Construction is ongoing, with a partial opening planned for later this year.
Complexity of Situation in Middle East Requires More Cooperation Between Egypt and France, Sisi Tells FM Le Drian
Ahram Online
Sunday 29 Apr 2018

The complexity of the situation in the Middle East calls for continued coordination between Egypt and France, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told France's Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian during a meeting in Cairo on Sunday, according to a statement by the Egyptian presidency.

El-Sisi apprised Le Drian about the efforts being exerted by Egypt to combat terrorism, which El-Sisi described as "humanity's number one enemy," the statement read.

The meeting was attended by Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, acting Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and the French envoy to Cairo.

The Egyptian president stressed the importance of continued work to upgrade cooperation between the two countries, as well as the exchange of visits by senior officials to strengthen bilateral relations, especially in the field of combating terrorism.

Le Drian conveyed to El-Sisi greetings from Macron, and expressed his country's appreciation for the special relations it shares with Egypt, saying Paris considers Cairo one of its most important partners in the region.

El-Sisi and Le Drian discussed the ongoing crises in a number of countries in the region, including developments in Libya and Syria.

The Egyptian president and the French FM agreed that there has been relative progress in Libya, and stressed the need to hold elections in the country before the end of the year, especially given that the situation in Libya affects the security and stability of the Mediterranean region, according to the statement.

On Syria, El-Sisi reiterated Egypt's stance that the Syrian crisis should be solved through a political settlement to ensure the unity of Syrian territory and meet the wishes of the Syrian people while alleviating human suffering.

Last week, El-Sisi expressed to French president Macron his concern about “military escalation” in Syria, referring to the recent strikes by the US, the UK, and France against Syrian government targets.

Macron told El-Sisi that the strikes came within the framework of international legitimacy and were a response to the use of banned chemical weapons in Syria.
Egyptian, French FMs Hold Press Conference on Regional Issues and Bilateral Relations in Cairo
Ahram Online
Sunday 29 Apr 2018

France did not request that Egypt send troops to Syria, Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry said during a presser with his French counterpart Le Drian after holding talks in Cairo

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian held a press conference in Cairo Sunday on regional issues including Syria, Libya and Palestine, as well as political and economic bilateral relations after holding talks.

During the press conference, Shoukry said that Egypt appreciates its strong relationship with France.

"There are solid historical relations between the two countries," Shoukry said, adding that there is mutual interest to develop relations politically, economically, and culturally.

Shoukry added that France has an interest and passion for ancient Egyptian heritage, as well as modern Egypt and its road to the future.

Shoukry explained that he and Le Drian discussed during their meeting the situations in Syria and Libya and the Palestinian issue, as well as the efforts to combat terrorism, adding that there is a "correspondence in viewpoints between the two countries on all issues."

Le Drian said "I am happy to be back here. This is my 10th visit to Egypt as a minister, as I was first a minister of defense and later a foreign minister."

The French FM said he appreciates the clarity in the relationship between his country and Egypt, as well as the mutual trust and conformity of vision regarding different issues.

"This shows that Egypt is a friend and partner country to us, especially amid what the region is facing in terms of conflicts," Le Drian said.

Earlier today, Le Drian met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to discuss bilateral relations and a number of regional issues.

Le Drian highlighted during the presser major issues he discussed with President El-Sisi, which he said included Syria and the importance of consolidating international efforts for a solution to the crisis there.

"We spoke about a political solution which would lead to a roadmap for the Syrian crisis," he said, adding that France supports the territorial integrity of Syria.

Le Drian said that he also discussed with President El-Sisi the crisis in Libya, stressing the importance of abiding with the political roadmap set by UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salama, which stipulates that elections should be held before the end of the year.

He also said that "there is a matching of viewpoints" between Cairo and Paris on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Syria crisis

In an answer to a reporter’s question, Shoukry said that France did not request that Egypt send military forces to Syria, in reference to a circulating US proposal to send a multinational force to the war-stricken country.

On the recent US-Britain-France airstrikes against the government of Bashar Al-Assad, Le Drian said "I have to stress that if France decided to launch a direct and specific strike on targets in Syria linked with chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, that this is a matter of principle to us to object to the proliferation of chemical weapons."

"We have to cooperate with the countries of significant weight to end the Syrian crisis," Le Drian added.

Last week, President El-Sisi expressed to French President Macron his concern about a military escalation in Syria following the western airstrikes.

Egypt has maintained a position of support to the territorial integrity of Syria and the need for a political solution to end the crisis in the country.

A question on the dam

The Egyptian foreign minister was asked by a journalist during the press conference about updates on the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam negotiations.

"Egypt is keen on dealing with the dam issue within the framework of the agreement between the leaders of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia during their meeting on the sidelines of the African summit last January," Shoukry said.

In January, the leaders of the three countries set a one-month deadline from 5 April to 5 May to hold a trilateral technical meeting to end a stand-off in negotiations over the construction of the dam.

Shoukry revealed that Egypt has agreed to recent proposals from Ethiopia to hold the trilateral technical committee meetings on 4 May, with another meeting related to further talks to be held on 15 May.

"Despite our preference that the meetings be held within the timeframe [set in January], we have demonstrated our acceptance of the upcoming dates since Egypt is keen on communication and interaction to reach a point of connection to preserve the interests of the three countries," he said.

Economic cooperation

Le Drian concluded that France will continue to help Egypt in mega projects, as well as projects in the energy field, through supporting French companies operating in the country.

According to the Egyptian foreign ministry, trade between Egypt and France reached 2.5 billion euros by the end of 2017, rising from 2.1 billion euros in 2016.

Egypt is currently the first destination for French exports in the MENA region at 1.9 billion euros.

France occupies the 6thplace in the list of foreign investors in Egypt, and the third largest European investor in the Egyptian market with investments worth 4.4 billion Euro.

Egypt is the third largest destination for direct French investments in the MENA region with 140 French companies operating in the country.
Historic Meeting Which Ushered in a New Era of National Reconciliation and Unity, 
Peace and Prosperity
Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader of the Party, State and Army of the DPRK, Crosses Demarcation Line at Panmunjom for Inter-Korean Summit

Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, came to Panmunjom on April 27 to hold the north-south summit meeting and talks.

Panmunjom was ablaze with ecstasy and hope unseen since the country’s division as it would greet a defining moment for the Korean nation’s reunification effort.

It seemed that the truce village, which has been at the centre of inter-Korean confrontation and hostility for many decades while witnessing all sorts of pain and suffering caused by national division, was about to bid farewell to the misfortune in the bright spring of April.

At 9:00 am, under the gaze of the Koreans at home and  abroad  and  the  international  community, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un stepped out of the Panmun House accompanied by senior Party, government and military officials, and got there in front of the line demarcating the border of the north and the south.

South Korean President Moon Jae In also came to the line to greet the Supreme Leader who would visit the southern area to attend the summit meeting and talks.

The Supreme Leader warmly shook hands with the south Korean President and shared greetings.

He then crossed the demarcation line and had photographs taken with Moon Jae In against the background of the Panmun House of the DPRK side and the House of Freedom of the south side respectively.

The top leaders crossed the line back to the DPRK side and took another handshake before going back to the south.

As the first of its kind in the national history, the scene of their breaking down the forbidden line, the wall of division, by crossing over the demarcation line hand in hand has caused a stir all around the world.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un Greeted by Moon Jae In

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un crossed the demarcation line of Panmunjom and, together with President Moon Jae In, headed for the House of Peace in the southern area.

Personages from both sides gave the two leaders a big hand in congratulation of their first step towards national reconciliation and unity.

South Korean children presented Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un with a bouquet of flowers.

The two leaders, escorted by a guard in traditional costume, walked towards where the south Korean honour guard was lining up.

A band of traditional instrumentalists led the way, playing cheerful music to enliven the mood.

Seen at the plaza in front of the House of Peace were a military band and the honour guard of the ground, navy and air forces, as well as the guard in traditional costume and the band of traditional instrumentalists.

When the two leaders mounted a platform, the head of the honour guard saluted them and the military band struck up a welcome tune.

The Supreme Leader, together with the south Korean President, reviewed the honour guard and the guard in traditional costume.

With the introduction from Moon Jae In, the Supreme Leader shook hands with each one of the south Korean figures.

Moon Jae In exchanged greetings with the officials from the north side.

The personages of both sides posed for a photograph with the two leaders at the centre.

Present from the north side were Kim Yong Nam, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly; Ri Su Yong, Kim Yong Chol, Ri Yong Ho, Choe Hwi, Kim Yo Jong and Ri Son Gwon, officials of the WPK and the government; high-ranking military officials Ri Myong Su and Pak Yong Sik.

And from the south side were Im Jong Sok, presidential chief of staff, Jong Ui Yong, chief of the presidential office for national security, So Hun, director of the National Intelligence Service, unification minister Jo Myong Gyun, defence minister Song Yong Mu, foreign minister Kang Kyong Hwa, chairman Jong Kyong Du of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Yun Yong Chan, senior secretary for public communication of the presidential secretariat.

Leaders Held Talks at House of Peace in Southern Area of Panmunjom

Talks were held between Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae In at the House of Peace in the southern area of Panmunjom.

Participating in the talks were Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and Kim Yo Jong, first deputy department director of the WPK Central Committee, from the north side.

From the south side were Im Jong Sok, presidential chief of staff, and So Hun, director of the National Intelligence Service.

At the talks both sides exchanged candid and open-minded views on the improvement of north-south relations, peace making on the Korean peninsula, denuclearization of the peninsula and other matters of mutual concern.

Referring to the very meaningful meeting with Moon Jae In at Panmunjom, symbolic of national division and confrontation, Kim Jong Un said that such a meeting at this special place would constitute an occasion to bring hope and dream back to all the people.

Noting that he once again felt the sense of mission and duty before the nation to put an end to the history of division and confrontation and usher in a new era of peace and reunification, he said today he came here with the feeling of firing a signal flare at the starting point of writing the new history.

Moon Jae In said that it was fine as if congratulating today’s meeting, adding that Panmunjom has turned from a symbol of division into that of peace the moment Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission crossed the demarcation line.

Expressing high respect to Kim Jong Un for making a bold decision which made today’s meeting possible, he said he hoped that such an open-hearted dialogue would continue so that confidence could be built.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In reached a consensus of views on the agenda items of the talks, and agreed to meet each other any time in the future and hold sincere discussion on the crucial problems of the nation so as to carve out a new history of north-south relations wisely and to work together to promote the favourable trend towards peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula.

Prior to the talks, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un wrote on the visitors’ book of the House of Peace in commemoration of the summit meeting: A new history starts now. At the starting point of the history, an era of peace. Kim Jong Un, April 27, 2018.

He then posed for a photograph with Moon Jae In.

Leaders Hold Commemorative Tree-planting

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un planted a pine tree, symbolic of “peace and prosperity”, together with President Moon Jae In at Panmunjom, once a land of confrontation and tension, in commemoration of their meeting.

They jointly mixed soil from Mts Paektu and Halla and poured water from the Taedong and Han rivers, prepared by the north and south sides, over the tree.

The Supreme Leader meaningfully suggested properly cultivating the hard-won trend of inter-Korean rapprochement with the tree as a token, out of a determination to sacrifice themselves like compost and soil that would fertilize it and cover its precious roots and to become the windbreak that protects it from rain and wind, and carve out the future with a concerted effort in a spirit as strong as the evergreen pine tree.

A commemorative plaque was erected beside the tree in the name of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae In.

The two leaders unveiled the plaque.

The writing on the plaque reads: “Peace and prosperity are planted”

After the planting they had a photo taken against the background of the plaque and pine tree.

They also had a photo session with the accompanying officials.

After the commemorative tree planting they took a stroll while having a serious talk.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In Sign Panmunjom Declaration

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae In signed the Panmunjom Declaration on Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula and exchanged the documents.

They had a photo taken in congratulation of the birth of the Panmunjom Declaration which reflects the unanimous aspiration and demand of the Korean nation and hugged each other warmly.

The signing ceremony was attended by Ri Su Yong and Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairmen of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Yo Jong, first deputy department director of the WPK Central Committee, Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, and Jo Yong Won, deputy department director of the WPK Central Committee, from the DPRK side.

Also present were Im Jong Sok, presidential chief of staff, Jong Ui Yong, chief of the presidential office for national security, So Hun, director of the National Intelligence Service, unification minister Jo Myong Gyun, defence minister Song Yong Mu, foreign minister Kang Kyong Hwa, and Yun Yong Chan, senior secretary for public communication of the presidential secretariat, from the south side.

After the signing ceremony was over, the two leaders jointly released the Panmunjom Declaration.

The historic Panmunjom Declaration will mark a fresh turning point in relinking the severed blood vessel of the nation and hastening the future of co-prosperity and independent reunification by boosting inter-Korean relations in such an all-round and drastic way as to meet the unanimous aspiration and demand of all the fellow countrymen who are desirous of peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.

President Moon Jae In Gives Dinner Party for Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un

President Moon Jae In hosted a dinner party at the House of Peace to welcome Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s tour of the south side.

Invited there were First Lady Ri Sol Ju, together with Kim Yong Nam, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, other senior Party and government officials including Ri Su Yong, Kim Yong Chol, Choe Hwi, Kim Yo Jong and Ri Son Gwon, and other members of the entourage.

Present from the south side were Im Jong Sok, presidential chief of staff, Jong Ui Yong, chief of the presidential office for national security, So Hun, director of the National Intelligence Service, unification minister Jo Myong Gyun, defence minister Song Yong Mu, foreign minister Kang Kyong Hwa, representatives of different political parties, those related to the previous inter-Korean summits and other personages.

As Ri Sol Ju arrived at the House of Peace, she was warmly welcomed by President Moon Jae In and his wife Kim Jong Suk.

Prior to the dinner, the Supreme Leader and his wife had a pleasant chat with the south Korean president and his wife, sharing their feelings.

The Supreme Leader and his wife expressed their heartfelt gratitude to Moon Jae In for giving such a sincere dinner party.

In front of the venue the Supreme Leader and the south Korean President, along with their wives, exchanged greetings with each of the north and south Korean officials.

As the leaders entered the venue, all the participants congratulated them on their successful Panmunjom summit with enthusiastic applause.

Moon Jae In first made a welcoming address at the party.

The Supreme Leader answered his speech.

The south side prepared various foods with special meanings and the DPRK side presented Pyongyang cold noodles of the Okryu Restaurant, leaving a deep impression on the participants.

The dinner party proceeded in an amicable atmosphere brimming with compatriotic feelings.

There were art performances during the party given by the artistes from the north and the south to congratulate the summit meeting and talks.

Supreme Leader Bids Farewell to South Korean President

Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, wound up the north-south summit meeting and talks and bade farewell to south Korean President Moon Jae In.

As he and his wife, along with the south Korean President and his wife, came out of the House of Peace, senior officials of the north and the south burst into enthusiastic cheers and applause.

They climbed onto the outdoor platform to see a farewell performance “Spring of Oneness” prepared by the south side.

After the performance was over, the Supreme Leader and the south Korean President shook hands with each of the accompanying senior officials of the other side respectively to say goodbye.

They then held each other’s hand warmly and said their farewells with a promise of a new start.

The Supreme Leader left the House of Peace amid the send-off of the south Korean officials.

The historic Panmunjom summit is an expression of his ardent love for the nation and firm, independent will to build a reunified power, dignified and prosperous, on this land without fail by the concerted efforts of the nation.

The great exploits performed by the Supreme Leader, who has ushered in a turning point in the improvement of inter-Korean relations with the boundlessly ennobling love for the fellow countrymen and outstanding political acumen, will go down in the history of the nation’s effort for reunification.
US Should Respond to DPRK's Measures With Sincerity
The US is vociferating about "sanctions and pressure" while expressing distrust in the great victory of the line on simultaneously developing the economic construction and the building of the nuclear forces, declared at the historic April 2018 Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, and the follow-up measures.

Saying that no one knows when and how north Korea will put into practice the promises it made at the plenary meeting, hose concerned of the White House and official figures of the US administration, including the treasury secretary and the defense secretary, called for keeping sanctions and pressure on the DPRK until concrete measures are taken, along with the opinion that the US will never take a "naive attitude".

As already known, the April plenary meeting solemnly declared that the DPRK would make proactive efforts to contribute to building a world free from nuclear weapons in conformity with the desire and aspiration common to mankind at the present stage when the DPRK has definitely risen to the position of the world-class politico-ideological and military power.

The declaration of the great victory of the WPK’s line on simultaneous development of the two fronts is evoking active support, welcome and great repercussion from all Koreans and the whole world as it opened up a bright prospect for peace in the Korean peninsula, the region and the rest of the world.

The world now comments that the DPRK is making a great change in the historic development strategy and laid a foundation for the Korean peninsula to get rid of the Cold War system that has persisted for more than seven decades.

However, some dishonest forces of the US keep making such wild remarks as "sanctions and pressure" while reacting to the DPRK's strategic decision like a persecution maniac. This is nothing but a silly talk of those who are still mired in the anachronistic hostile policy toward the DPRK.

Americans have to ponder over the destiny and prospect of their country, clearly understanding the deep meaning enshrined in the crucial measure of the DPRK, rather than going rude.

To build a peaceful world free from a war is the goal of the WPK and it is the consistent stand of the WPK and the DPRK government to struggle for regional and global peace and security.

The April plenary meeting more evidently clarified the stand and will of the DPRK to open up a new phase for peace in the Korean peninsula and, furthermore, in Northeast Asia. This also conforms to not only the interests of the Korean nation and the regional people but also the common expectation of the international community.

It is the voice of the world public opinion that as the DPRK took an epoch-making measure, this should naturally be responded with sincerity for the development of situation, not missing the opportunity.

To keep brandishing the rotten "sanctions" stick, not understanding the trend of the times, will only provoke the laughter of the world.

What is needed for the US is to learn how to observe good manners and how to respect the party concerned, not resorting to highhanded practices and arrogance.

Chinese Funds Continue Pouring In
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport will begin anytime with construction equipment now on route to the site as Government last week gave legal backing to a US$153 million loan secured from China recently.

The loan facility from Export-Import Bank of China was secured during President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent State visit to China.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa made the announcement of the approval of the loan by Harare through a Government Gazette published on Friday.

During the high-level visit to the Asian country, Government secured several multimillion-dollar deals including immediate funding for Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Units 7 and 8 and NetOne’s Phase 3 expansion.

Harare is also set to receive the first tranche of the US$1 billion Hwange deal any time for the project which will be implemented over three-and-a-half years.

Already US$10 million of the US$71 for NetOne’s expansion has been released with the remainder set to be disbursed progressively.

The country also received a US$20 million package to help ease liquidity challenges.

Since the visit, several delegations from the Oriental state have travelled to Harare to follow up and concretise some of the agreed deals.

Minister Chinamasa signed the airport expansion deal on behalf of the Government.

Reads the latest notice: “It is hereby notified, in terms of Section 300(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) of 2013, that Zimbabwe, represented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, concluded a loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China, dated 4th April, 2018, on the following terms:

“(a) the loan is the amount of (RMB 1 045 139 500,00 approximately US$153 million) one billion and forty-five million one hundred and thirty-nine thousand and five hundred yuan only approximately one hundred and thirty-three million United States dollars;

“(b) the period of the loan is twenty (20) years with a grace period of seven (7) years at an interest rate of two percent (2 percent) per annum, and commitment fees of zero two five percent (0,25 percent) per annum once off payment;

“(c) the loan will be utilised for the purpose of the development and upgrading of the Robert Mugabe International Airport.”

The expansion project will be undertaken by Chinese engineering firm, China Jiangsu, the same company behind the successful upgrading of Victoria Falls International Airport.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said all was set for the airport expansion project.

He said: “We have completed the preliminary stages which involved negotiating and signing of the deals.

“Now that the deal has been gazetted it means work will start any time from now once the money has been released to the contractor.

“But the bottom line is that the project is starting now.

“I understand that the contractor, China Jiangsu, is in the process of moving its equipment from Victoria Falls where it was used for the expansion of the airport there to Robert Mugabe International Airport where they will start work soon.

“Everything, including the designs, have been done including the prerequisite soil tests.

“I am, however, not in a position to confirm whether the money has been released by the bank to the contractor or not but once that has been done work will commence.”

The expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport will increase the facility’s capacity from handling just over two million travellers to about six million annually.

The Sunday Mail understands that the extensive facelift will include modernisation of facilities at the airport, with the car park set to be transformed into a multi-storey facility that can handle hundreds of vehicles.

Modern airport bridges will also be installed at new gates while the runway will also be expanded further to allow for multiple landings at the same time.

Currently, only one airplane can land at any given time.

Technology will also be upgraded with a new radar system being deployed.

Moving walkways, a slow-moving conveyor mechanism that transports passengers across a horizontal or inclined plane over a short to medium distance, will also be installed.

The development comes amid increasing interest by major international airlines to fly to Zimbabwe.

Already, Ethiopian Airlines has introduced flights to Victoria Falls, while Lufthansa and Rwanda Air are engaging the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe in pursuit of operating permits.

The upgrade of the Victoria Falls International Airport has seen an increase in the number of direct flights to the resort town.

Zimbabwe expects to attract an increasing number of tourists, especially from non-traditional markets.

The rehabilitation of the transit facilities is intended to facilitate the movement of tourists.
US Should Support Progress Made at Kim-Moon Meeting
Global Times
2018/4/27 20:55:55

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday signed the "Panmunjom Declaration" after their meeting in Panmunjom on the southern side. The declaration aims to officially declare an end to the Korean War (1950-53) within the year and focus on peace.

The declaration said both sides confirm their mutual aim to denuclearize the peninsula, which marks the first time that North Korea has delivered an unequivocal message of denuclearization since Kim became the country's leader.

Such results met the best expectations from the Kim-Moon summit, thereby making it a success.

Through the meeting, Kim won more recognition in his appearance on live TV, which also demonstrated the special bond between North and South Korea as the same nation.

We are also aware that the results of the high-profile meeting remain fragile, because another heavyweight player, US President Donald Trump, has yet to appear on stage. Just one day before Kim met with Moon, Trump said he may "walk out" from his planned meeting with Kim, and "maybe the meeting doesn't even take place," meaning it's still conditional.

Many people believe that Friday's meeting is a precursor to the Kim-Trump meeting. Moon was acting as "Trump's super envoy." Any agreements reached between Moon and Kim must have been supported by Washington, otherwise they will not be delivered.

The denuclearization of the peninsula, written into the Panmunjom Declaration, is only a prospect with no specific plan. That is because such specifics can be reached only between the US and North Korea, and South Korea has only limited authority to bargain.

Friday's meeting is the third between top leaders of the two sides. However, the collapse of the previous two meetings between previous leaders was proof that the failure in North Korea-US ties would hamper relations between the two Koreas.

Friday was probably the happiest day for Koreans in years, as the two leaders held their meeting and reached agreements. However, people may still feel uneasy as the planned Kim-Trump meeting will decide whether the progress made on Friday is futile. Many people were concerned that the closeness shown during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games would be short-lived, and now such fears still haunt the peninsula.

We hope that change will eventually take place. After the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration, Moon held Kim's hand high, showing that from that moment, efforts by either the North or South side to forge peace on the peninsula should no longer be excluded.

It's worth noting that South Korea has played an important role in breaking the stalemate and facilitating the meeting. Seoul proved in the past months that its creativity and active participation have the capacity to affect the direction of the situation. Seoul should continue to stick with its pursuit instead of being overly obedient to Washington like in the past.

Trump has said on multiple occasions that he may or may not meet Kim. Whether the two will meet should not be decided solely by the White House. Cheong Wa Dae should also have a say. Whatever the US does will greatly affect the interests of South Korea. Seoul is not a bystander of the presumed Kim-Trump meeting.
32nd ASEAN Summit Concludes, Reaffirming Cooperation, Common Vision
2018-04-28 19:14:23
Editor: Shi Yinglun

ASEAN leaders pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 32nd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore on April 28, 2018. The 32nd summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded here Saturday, reaffirming the bloc's cooperation and common vision. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

SINGAPORE, April 28 (Xinhua) -- The 32nd summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded here Saturday, reaffirming the bloc's cooperation and common vision.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said ASEAN leaders have adopted deliverables which are in line with the priorities this year for ASEAN to strengthen its resilience and innovative capacity.

At the press conference after the summit, Lee said one deliverable is the ASEAN Leaders' Vision for a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN, and the second is the establishment of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.

The network will use technology to improve lives and livelihood of the people in cities across all the ASEAN member states, according to Lee.

The third one is the ASEAN Leaders' Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation to deepen regional cooperation and coordination to keep up with the rapid pace of digitalization.

Lee said he is also pleased to announce the finalization of the Model ASEAN Extradition Treaty (MAET), the revitalization of the Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund, and the set-up of an annual training workshop in Singapore, called the ASEAN Law Academy programme.

The ASEAN leaders have good discussions during their meeting on regional issues and ASEAN's external engagements, according to Lee.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The 32nd ASEAN Summit and related meetings were held in Singapore from April 25-28.
DPRK to Openly Close Nuclear Test Site in May: Blue House
2018-04-29 12:02:24

SEOUL, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), has said his country will openly close its main nuclear test site in May, the Blue House of South Korea said Sunday.

Yoon Young-chan, senior press secretary for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told a press briefing that during the April 27 summit, Kim told Moon that he will shutdown the nuclear test site, which will be transparently made open to the international society.

Kim said he will invite experts and reporters of South Korea and the United States to the DPRK for the transparent implementation. Pyongyang conducted all of its six nuclear detonations in the Punggye-ri test site in northeast of the DPRK.

Moon and Kim held the third-ever inter-Korean summit in the South Korean side of the border village of Panmunjom. Kim became the first DPRK leader to step onto South Korean soil since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

At the summit, they confirmed a common goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and agreed to have multilateral talks, including China and the United States, to declare an end to the Korean War and change the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty by the end of this year.

Kim told Moon that the two tunnels in the nuclear test site are bigger than the existing ones and in a good shape, rebutting the contention by some media that the DPRK would close the already collapsed nuclear test site.

Moon welcomed Kim's decision to openly shut down the nuclear test site, agreeing to discuss when to invite experts and reporters of South Korea and the United States to the DPRK after the DPRK side completes preparations for it.

Kim told Moon that the United States will realize after holding talks with Pyongyang that the DPRK is not a country to use its nuclear weapons toward South Korea, the Pacific Ocean or the United States.

The DPRK leader said his country has no reason to live with difficulty because of the nuclear program if it meets the United States frequently and build mutual trust to promise on the end of the Korean War and non-aggression.

The summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump is forecast to be held in May or early June.

Kim told Moon that there will be no repetition of war on the peninsula, strongly affirming that there will never be any use of force.

Meanwhile, Kim has agreed with Moon to unify different standard times between Seoul and Pyongyang, which Pyongyang has a standard time 30 minutes later than Seoul.

Editor: Liu

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Nigerian Parliament Criticizes Purchase of US Warplanes
26 APR, 2018

ABUJA. — The Nigerian parliament on Tuesday criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for purchasing warplanes from the United States without parliamentary approval.

A lot of flak followed the reading of President Buhari’s letter to parliament by its leader, Yakubu Dogara, as parliamentarians questioned the president’s decision to order the release of $496 million to purchase the military aircraft without the constitutionally required approval.

The delivery of the 12 Super Tucano aircraft by the United States was to be done by 2020, under a direct government-to-government arrangement. Discussion toward the purchase had been on for a number of years.

In his letter to the parliament on Tuesday, President Buhari said the approval for Nigeria to take delivery of the warplanes was finally granted by the US government, but with a deadline within which part payment must be made, otherwise, the contract would lapse.

The president pleaded with the legislators to accommodate the $496 million expenditure as supplementary input to the country’s 2018 Appropriation Bill, drawing the attention of the lawmakers to ongoing security emergencies in Nigeria.

The Nigerian leader also confirmed that the money had been paid “directly to the treasury of the US government,” with President Buhari set to meet US president Donald Trump on April 30.

The Nigerian lawmakers accused the president of breaching the Constitution, which stipulated how the nation’s resources could be expended through an appropriation by the National Assembly.

Kingsley Chinda, a lawmaker representing Nigeria’s oil-rich state of Rivers, said the decision of the president was “an impeachable offense,” noting the Nigerian Constitution did not give room for anticipatory approval of the budget.

Another lawmaker, Sunday Karimi, accused President Buhari of snubbing parliament to make payment deposits to the US treasury without due process, calling for an impeachment process against the president.

Closing the plenary, the parliament speaker ruled that “an appropriation can only be done through a bill and the House would want to operate within the ambit of the rules.”

Parliament said the president’s request as contained in the letter would be debated on another legislative day.

– Xinhua