US Defense Sec. discusses ties with Angolan counterpart

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has discussed the growing bilateral defense relations between the United States and Angola with his Angolan counterpart Joao Lourenco The talks have been held against backdrop of US efforts to enhance strategic presence in the African continent amid fierce competition with China and Russia.

The two ministers met on Tuesday at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense (the Pentagon).

Lourenco’s visit to Washington is “‘based on the success of the 2017 memorandum of understanding, the 2022 joint statement, and minister Austin’s visit to Angola in September 2023,” according to a statement from the Pentagon.

The two officials discussed ways to strengthen the relations through the upcoming inaugural meeting of the Joint U.S.-Angolan Defense Cooperation Committee, scheduled for June 5-6, 2024, at the Pentagon, as well as other areas of security cooperation, the statement added.

Austin became the first U.S. Defense Secretary ever to visit Angola in September 2023. Thi
s visit came during his first African tour since assuming his duties as head of the U.S. Department of Defense.

During his African tour covering Djibouti, Kenya, and Angola, Austin pledged support for African partners, stressing ongoing military collaboration to ensure Africa’s security and prosperity, as he emphasized Africa’s importance for shared prosperity and security.

The U.S aims to bolster its presence in Africa amid growing Chinese and Russian influence, as recent setbacks in Niger led to a decision to withdraw American forces from the country, which was increasingly aligning with Moscow.

Source: Kuwait News Agency

Two Belgian universities end work with Israeli-occupation universities

The University of Antwerp and the Free University of Brussels (ULB) announced on Tuesday that they will suspend agreements and institutional research projects with Israeli-occupation universities.

For weeks, students have been occupying Belgian university buildings to call for a boycott of Israeli-occupation partner institutions, Belgian news agency Belga reported.

On Tuesday, Herman Van Goethem, rector at the University of Antwerp, informed students who have been occupying parts of the city campus for weeks that collaborations with Israeli-occupation partner institutions will be put on hold.

At ULB, they too decided to suspend the agreements and institutional research projects with Israeli-occupation universities until the university administrations concerned clearly engage with the demands of the International Court of Justice in its request of 24 May.

The decisions come as students have been occupying university buildings across Belgium, including Antwerp and Brussels, for weeks, demanding a clear stan
ce from their university on the Israeli-occupation war on the Gaza Strip, noted Belga.

Source: Kuwait News Agency

China, Egypt leaders urge Gaza ceasefire

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Egyptian counterpart Abdulfattah Al-Sisi on Wednesday stressed that it is essential to stop military operations in the Gaza Strip and to thwart conflict spillover.

This came during official talks between the leaders of China and Egypt in Beijing, during which they exchanged views on the Israeli occupation attacks on Gaza, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi pointed out that the current round of the Palestinian-Israeli occupation conflict has caused a large number of innocent Palestinian civilian casualties and the extremely grim humanitarian situation in Gaza, which China deeply regrets, the report said.

“It is imperative to immediately cease the fire and cease the fighting, so as to prevent the spillover of the conflict from undermining peace and stability in the region and preventing a more serious humanitarian crisis,” Xi was quoted as telling Al-Sisi.

“The two-state solution is the fundamental solution to the Palestinian issue. China firmly supports Palestine
becoming a full member of the UN,” Xi stressed.

“China appreciates the important role played by Egypt in de-escalating the situation and carrying out humanitarian relief, and stands ready to work with Egypt to continue to provide assistance to the people of Gaza to the best of its ability and promote an early, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue,” the Chinese leader noted.

Al-Sisi said Egypt highly appreciates China’s commitment to justice on the Palestinian issue, and is willing to maintain close communication with China to ease tension in Gaza as soon as possible, according to the report.

Al-Sisi is on a state-visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum on Thursday. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership, Xi said, adding that China-Egypt relations have become a vivid illustration of China’s solidarity, coordination, and m
utually-beneficial win-win cooperation with Arab, African, Islamic and developing countries.

“China is ready to work with Egypt to tap the potential of cooperation in traditional areas such as infrastructure, industry, electricity and agriculture, explore cooperation in emerging areas such as health care, information and communications, and renewable energy, deepen economic, trade and investment cooperation, and encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in Egypt,” said Xi.

Xi also said China supports Egypt in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs, and stands ready to further strengthen coordination and cooperation with Egypt on multilateral platforms such as the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS cooperation mechanism.

For his part, Al-Sisi said Egypt looks forward to further deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership with China and working to promote regional peace and stability.

He added that Egypt welcomes more Chinese enterprises to
invest and cooperate in Egypt to help Egypt’s manufacturing development and industrialization process.

After the talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a number of bilateral cooperation documents in the fields of promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, scientific and technological innovation, investment and economic cooperation, and quarantine.

Source: Kuwait News Agency

Egypt raises bread price for 1st time in decades

The Egyptian government has decided to increase the price of subsidized bread for the first time in decades as of early next June in a bid to curtail the gap between the production cost and sale price.

Under the decision, the bread price will shoot up by 300 percent to 20 piasters (USD 0.0042) from just five piasters, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said at a press conference following a cabinet meeting.

The State has kept the subsidized bread policy unchanged for more than 30 years, Madbouli said, adding that the cost of a loaf of bread is 125 piasters, while its price is only five.

Bread subsidy costs the State more than 120 billion Egyptian pounds (around USD 2.5 billion), he estimated, noting that the price should be increased in order to cut the subsidy.

As the world’s biggest wheat importer, Egypt imported roughly 10.88 million metric tons of wheat in 2023, up 14.7 percent from 9.48 million tons in 2022.

Source: Kuwait News Agency

Greek pres. highly appreciates Qatar mediating role in Gaza

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou highly expressed Wednesday her country’s appreciation to Qatar mediating role in the ongoing armed conflict in the besieged Gaza Strip and the huge humanitarian crisis.

While receiving visiting Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad in the country, Sakellaropoulou affirmed that “Greece will continue to strive to contribute to an immediate and viable ceasefire” in Gaza, Greek news agency reported.

Friendly relations with Qatar are based on mutual respect and common commitment to the main principles of international law, she said, noting that the two countries are playing an essential role in achieving stability in the region.

“In this context, we must intensify our collective efforts to bring about a ceasefire, the release of the hostages and to ensure the unhindered flow of humanitarian aid,” Sakellaropoulou said.

“We hope for peace in the region and we support a two-state solution within the framework of International Law,” she added, according to the agency.

ng to bilateral relations between Greece and Qatar, the president claimed that “there are significant opportunities and possibilities for achieving mutually beneficial cooperation in many fields.” She expressed her certainty that the visit of the Amir of Qatar to Athens “sends an important message, it is an important leap in our bilateral relations”.

Meanwhile, the Amir of Qatar thanked Sakellaropoulou for her warm welcome, expressing his gratitude and pleasure to be visiting Athens for the first time, hoping that the visit will act to strengthen bilateral relations.

The Amir elaborated that 50 years have already elapsed since diplomatic relations between the two countries were first established and agreed with Sakellaropoulou that there are many opportunities and possibilities for their further enhancement.

Sheikh Tamim said “we appreciate the role and stance of Greece regarding the war in Gaza,”, stressing that “unfortunately there are massacres committed every day against the Palestinian people in Gaza
and other areas.

“There are millions of people in the city of Rafah who are suffering, unfortunately there are massacres, I cannot describe how this situation is happening.

“We are talking about Rafah, but there are massacres taking place every day for eight months now; from the north to the south, these tragedies have been happening every day.” He noted that Qatar’s position is known and that it supports a two-state solution, with the two countries, the two peoples, living together in peace in the region.

“We are working with our friends the Greeks to send in humanitarian aid, and we are also working together to free the people held there. “This is a human issue, we are working on it and all the people who are there should return to their families, to their parents,” he added.

Furthermore, Sheikh Tamim and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held official talks in Athens where the host welcomed the guest.

The Premier pointed to Greece’s significant progress as regards growth, saying that the meetin
g would be an opportunity to discuss regional developments, particularly what is happening in the Middle East, the agency said.

Paying his first official visit to Greece, the Amir highlighted the opportunity offered to strengthen bilateral relations, especially with respect to the economy and investments, while welcoming the opportunity to discuss regional issues and especially what is happening in Gaza.

The talks between the two sides’ delegations focused on the mutual desire to strengthen relations the two countries and witnessed the signature of two agreements.

They included a deal on enhancing military cooperation between the defense ministries of Greece and Qatar, and a Memorandum of Cooperation for political deliberations on issues of mutual interest between the foreign ministries of the two countries.

The two sides also covered, during talks, enhancing cooperation in a series of sectors, such as the economy, investments, energy and culture.

Sheikh Tamim arrived in Athens Tuesday in a state visit t
o Greece where he was warmly and officially received.

Source: Kuwait News Agency

Turkish FM urges all EU countries to recognize Palestine as state

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan on Wednesday urged all EU states to join Spain and others in recognizing Palestine as a state.

According to the Turkish News Agency (Anadolu), Fidan’s remarks came in a joint news conference in Madrid with his counterparts from Spain, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan.

“What Spain and the other European countries have done by recognizing Palestine as a full state is a huge contribution to international peace and security,” said Fidan.

“Therefore, we invite the remaining European Union countries to recognize Palestine as a state to follow the example of Spain,” he noted.

Fidan vowed to “continue to work tirelessly for a two-state solution, for regional peace and security.” On Tuesday, Ireland, Norway, and Spain formally recognized Palestine as a state.

Source: Kuwait News Agency