France Urges Israel to Permanently Cancel Khan Al-Ahmar Demolition

People celebrate after Israel delays eviction of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank October 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
People celebrate after Israel delays eviction of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank October 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
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France Urges Israel to Permanently Cancel Khan Al-Ahmar Demolition

People celebrate after Israel delays eviction of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank October 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
People celebrate after Israel delays eviction of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank October 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

France called on the Israeli authorities on Tuesday to permanently cancel their plans to destroy the Palestinian village of Khan al Ahmar in the West Bank in light of Israel's decision to temporarily postpone the settlement's demolition.

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “takes note of the decision by the Israeli prime minister to postpone the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar.”

“France, in collaboration with its European partners, has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities not to proceed with the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and the forced evacuation of its inhabitants,” added the statement.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to permanently abandon their plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar and to remove the uncertainty surrounding the fate of this village, which is located in an area that is key to the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and therefore the viability of the two-state solution.”

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office announced that the government is holding off on demolishing Khan al-Ahmar in order to “exhaust negotiations and proposals received from various sources, including some in the past few days.”

While the cabinet approved the proposal to postpone the demolition, Netanyahu later made clear that the illegal outpost will be demolished.

"Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated, with or without agreement. It will not take weeks; it will be much shorter,” said Netanyahu. “We will make several vital preparatory moves in the international arena. We will give a last chance for evacuation by agreement but in any case Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated. I am not talking about a cosmetic evacuation but a real evacuation.”

The French ministry stressed that the village was situated in a zone that was indispensable for the future Palestinian state and, subsequently, for the implementation of the two-state solution.

The global community has repeatedly voiced its protest over Israel's policy of demolishing Palestinian villages located in the West Bank in order to make way for Jewish settlements. Critics and human rights organizations argue that the demolition is part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea.

Israel has been constantly trying to uproot Bedouin communities from the east of Jerusalem area to allow settlement expansion in the area, which would later turn the entire eastern part of the West Bank into a settlement zone.

Although international humanitarian law prohibits the demolition of the village and illegal confiscation of private property, Israeli forces continue their planned expansion by forcing evictions and violating basic human rights of the people.

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom warned Israel in September that the destruction of the village and the displacement of its residents would have grave consequences for Israel and would hinder the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



Saudi, US Mediators Announce 24-Hour Sudan Truce

Black smoke billows amid ongoing fighting in the capital Khartoum on June 9, 2023. (AFP)
Black smoke billows amid ongoing fighting in the capital Khartoum on June 9, 2023. (AFP)
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Saudi, US Mediators Announce 24-Hour Sudan Truce

Black smoke billows amid ongoing fighting in the capital Khartoum on June 9, 2023. (AFP)
Black smoke billows amid ongoing fighting in the capital Khartoum on June 9, 2023. (AFP)

Sudan's warring generals have agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire from Saturday, Saudi and US mediators said, acknowledging that previous attempts to pause a conflict now nearing its third month had proved abortive.

Multiple truces have been agreed and broken since fighting erupted on April 15, and Washington had slapped sanctions on both rival generals after the last attempt collapsed at the end of May, blaming them for the "appalling" bloodshed.

"Representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to a 24-hour countrywide ceasefire beginning on June 10 at 6:00 am (0400 GMT)," said a joint statement from the mediators released by the Saudi foreign ministry on Friday.

"Should the parties fail to observe the 24-hour ceasefire, facilitators will be compelled to consider adjourning" talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah which have been suspended since late last month, the mediators said.

The fighting has gripped the capital Khartoum and the western region of Darfur, killing upwards of 1,800 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

Nearly two million people have been displaced, including 476,000 who have sought refuge in neighboring countries, the United Nations says.

The Saudi and US mediators said they "share the frustration of the Sudanese people about the uneven implementation of previous ceasefires".

The army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said it has "agreed to the proposal", adding in a statement it "declares its commitment to the ceasefire".

The paramilitary RSF, commanded by Burhan's former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has yet to make an official statement on the latest truce.

"If observed, the 24-hour ceasefire will provide an important opportunity... for the parties to undertake confidence-building measures which could permit resumption of the Jeddah talks," the US-Saudi statement said.

'Immense needs'

Friday's announcement came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he held discussions on Sudan with top Saudi officials.

On Thursday, Sudanese authorities loyal to Burhan declared UN envoy Volker Perthes "persona non grata", accusing him of taking sides.

The fighting has sidelined the envoy's efforts to revive Sudan's transition to civilian rule, which was derailed by a 2021 coup by the two generals before they fell out.

A Sudanese government official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said the decision was taken "because he sided with certain political parties" and sought to "exclude others" from the transition process.

The United Nations has yet to comment on the announcement but UN chief Antonio Guterres has repeatedly defended Perthes, who is currently in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a series of talks.

A former academic who has headed the Sudan mission since 2021, Perthes has staunchly defended the UN against accusations of inflaming the conflict, saying those responsible are "the two generals at war".

The fighting has complicated the coordination of international efforts to deliver emergency relief to the 25 million civilians that the United Nations estimates are in need.

Alfonso Verdu Perez, outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Sudan, warned on Friday that "health care may collapse at any moment".

"The needs are immense and much more remains to be done" in both Khartoum and Darfur, he told reporters in Geneva, describing the many challenges to delivering aid as fighting continues.

About one fifth of medical facilities in the capital are still functioning but face "severe shortages" of water, food and electricity, and "are running low on essential medical supplies", he added.

Witnesses reported hearing clashes on Friday near the Yarmouk weapons manufacturing and arms depot complex in Khartoum, from where plumes of smoke were seen rising for a second successive day.

Air strikes were also carried out in eastern parts of the capital and the sound of anti-aircraft guns was heard.

Those unable to leave have been forced to camp out for weeks as supplies of food and other vital goods run low.


Palestinian President to Visit China Next Week

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been invited to China. AFP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been invited to China. AFP
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Palestinian President to Visit China Next Week

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been invited to China. AFP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been invited to China. AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit China from June 13-16 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday.

"At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, president of the state of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas will pay a state visit to China from June 13 to 16," foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

"He is the first Arab head of state received by China this year, fully embodying the high level of China-Palestine good relations, which have traditionally been friendly," ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing later.

Abbas is an "old and good friend of the Chinese people", he added.

"China has always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights."


Cairo Intensifies Consultations to Achieve Stability in Sudan

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrives in Zambia as part of an African tour. (Facebook/Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrives in Zambia as part of an African tour. (Facebook/Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency)
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Cairo Intensifies Consultations to Achieve Stability in Sudan

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrives in Zambia as part of an African tour. (Facebook/Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrives in Zambia as part of an African tour. (Facebook/Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency)

Egypt has intensified its efforts aiming at resolving the crisis in Sudan.

“Egypt is assuming its responsibilities as a direct neighboring country by making all endeavors, with the active parties and international partners, and engaging in existing mechanisms to ensure coordination between them in order to reach a secure and stable Sudan,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stressed on Thursday.

His comments came at the 22nd Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa in Zambia.

Sisi added that Egypt continues to host the Sudanese and called on all countries to provide the necessary support to them in this “delicate historical moment.”

During a meeting with his Angolan counterpart Joao Lourenço on Wednesday in Luanda, Sisi noted that the conflict in Sudan impacted Egypt. “During the past eight weeks, around 200,000 Sudanese were displaced to the Sudanese borders,” according to the Egyptian President.

Since the start of the war in Sudan, Egypt has engaged in intensive calls with relevant parties in an attempt to resolve the crisis. Egypt constantly reiterates that it exerts relentless efforts to pave the way for a peaceful dialogue.

In early June, Egypt and Qatar announced an initiative to provide support to the Sudanese people.

Advancing economic integration in Africa is key to achieving peace and security on the continent, Sisi said.

“Egypt has assumed the leadership of the COMESA over the past two years, during a very delicate period that witnessed important developments at the international and regional levels.”

The President highlighted the challenges facing the African countries to sustain peace and security.

“Such challenges require countries to adhere to a number of principles, especially the need to respect the right of all peoples of African States to life and to settle disputes, conflicts, and issues that threaten this right,” he stressed.

Preserving any country's national institutions is paramount as they represent its "backbone of stability and security," Sisi added.

“Now, after the end of Egypt's chairmanship of the COMESA, I reiterate my pledge to you to continue to work in coordination with all our brothers towards the implementation of the objectives of the African Development Agenda 2063, particularly with Egypt assuming the chairmanship of the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD, over the next two years,” the President added.

The President announced Egypt's candidacy to the African and Peace Security Council for 2024-2026, stemming from its belief that it has a role to play in supporting peace and security in the continent.


Israeli Military Official: Land Invasion Inevitable in War with Lebanon, Other Front

Troops put out a fire caused by a molotov bomb as Lebanese protesters confront the soldiers at the border near Marjeyoun, southern Lebanon, on May 25. (AFP)
Troops put out a fire caused by a molotov bomb as Lebanese protesters confront the soldiers at the border near Marjeyoun, southern Lebanon, on May 25. (AFP)
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Israeli Military Official: Land Invasion Inevitable in War with Lebanon, Other Front

Troops put out a fire caused by a molotov bomb as Lebanese protesters confront the soldiers at the border near Marjeyoun, southern Lebanon, on May 25. (AFP)
Troops put out a fire caused by a molotov bomb as Lebanese protesters confront the soldiers at the border near Marjeyoun, southern Lebanon, on May 25. (AFP)

A commander in Israel’s Golani Brigade stressed that a land invasion is inevitable in any possible future war on Lebanon or another country.

Meir Ohayon He made his remarks as Israel launched a massive military drill.

Ohayon said the forces kicked off training five weeks ago and joined the new exercises, called “Firm Hand”, to prepare for the war. “The threats facing Israel made it believe that the battle won’t be decided except by land invasions.”

The army had said 20 units and hundreds of soldiers were involved in the drill. One training had them march for five days, covering 50-60 kilometers and carrying heavy gear.

The official said the political leadership decides the scale of the combat operations, but the army’s tactical calculations confirmed that there can be no avoiding a land invasion if it wanted to decide the war in its favor, whether the conflict will erupt on the Lebanese, Syrian or Gaza fronts.

The exercise would be concluded on Sunday.

US CENTCOM Commander Michael Kurilla had taken part in the first three days of the exercise. He visited Unit 504, the HUMINT (human intelligence) unit of the Israeli army’s Intelligence Directorate.

Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi led an operational panel during which the commanders discussed cooperation between the military and the US Armed Forces and the strengthening of joint operational capabilities.

“Firm Hand” simulates a multi-front conflict in the air, at sea, on land, and cyber warfare. The exercise tests the army’s ability to prepare for a prolonged campaign on multiple fronts.


Scores of Yemenis Killed, Wounded in Floods Caused by Heavy Rains

Floods in a street in Sanaa (EPA)
Floods in a street in Sanaa (EPA)
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Scores of Yemenis Killed, Wounded in Floods Caused by Heavy Rains

Floods in a street in Sanaa (EPA)
Floods in a street in Sanaa (EPA)

Torrential rains in Yemen killed and injured more than 18 people and affected over 22,000 families in 15 governorates located mostly in Houthi-controlled areas.

While residents accuse the Houthi militia of underestimating the disaster and being unresponsive to the distress calls, the group admitted that 21,378 houses were damaged by the floods triggered by heavy rains.

A total of 8,339 houses were fully damaged, 13,034 houses were partially damaged, and 51 others are in imminent danger of collapsing.

The militia group said 159 agricultural lands were affected by the harsh weather while 28 dams, wells and water networks collapsed.

Additionally, it reported 82 cases of hazardous rockfalls and roadblocks and said the rains washed away 22 livestocks.

The Hajjah governorate topped the list of governorates where houses were the most damaged, while Al-Mahweet governorate registered the highest numbers of hazardous rockfalls.

Residents said that the militia stood idle and exerted zero efforts to protect them, their interests, and their properties such as carrying out evacuation operations and launching previous warnings.

Local sources reported that the floods led to the destruction of three houses in the Old City of Sanaa, Tahrir, and in a village in Hajjah. The third house's collapse killed a child.

Floods have also partially destroyed four other houses, making the families homeless, due to rock falls.

For more than ten days, dozens of households have been displaced from Houthi-ruled areas to more secure areas after their houses collapsed. Other households expressed concern that their houses could fall due to more floods and to the Houthis abstaining from acting on this.

Meteorologists expect more rainfalls of different intensities in the Yemeni capital and cities of mountain highlands, and most of them are under the militias’ control.

The United Nations warned that rains would hit several Yemeni regions in the next few days and lead to the spread of desert locusts.

“Field reports indicate that 31 people died, 37 were injured, and 3 were reported to be missing in the wake of the April floods,” the UN food agency FAO said in a statement.

The report noted that this caused “huge damage to spate irrigation infrastructures across much of the wadies,” the FAO added.

Heavy rains also caused devastating rockfall, especially in Yarim District, which is under militias’ control, FAO added.

Heavy rains persisted with heavy downpours reported in Al-Mahwit, Hajjah, Dhamar, Raymah, Ibb, and Sanaa.

The United Nations Population Fund noted, “Between January and April 2023, 2,102 families were affected by extreme weather conditions, including heavy rain and floods across the country."

"The majority of those affected reside in areas that are hard-to-reach and hosting displaced persons."

“The RRM cluster stepped up its response to assisted flood-affected families, with operational presence in all of the 12 flood-affected governorates.”

“Emergency teams were deployed by the RRM cluster to assess the damage to dwellings and shelters in all of the 62 districts affected by rains and flooding within the 12 governorates.”

 


French FM: We Don’t Have a Preferred Candidate for Lebanon’s Presidency

France's President Emmanuel Macron (C) arrives with his wife, Brigitte Macron (R) and his former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L), for a two-day visit in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, north-western France, on June 5, 2023. (AFP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron (C) arrives with his wife, Brigitte Macron (R) and his former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L), for a two-day visit in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, north-western France, on June 5, 2023. (AFP)
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French FM: We Don’t Have a Preferred Candidate for Lebanon’s Presidency

France's President Emmanuel Macron (C) arrives with his wife, Brigitte Macron (R) and his former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L), for a two-day visit in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, north-western France, on June 5, 2023. (AFP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron (C) arrives with his wife, Brigitte Macron (R) and his former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L), for a two-day visit in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, north-western France, on June 5, 2023. (AFP)

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna stressed on Thursday that her country does not have a preferred candidate for the presidency in Lebanon.

The election of a president is a priority for France, especially given the dire economic crisis Lebanon is enduring, she added during a meeting with her Lebanese counterpart Abdalla Bou Habib in Riyadh.

The FMS were in the Saudi capital to take part in the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

Colonna announced that French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian personal envoy to Lebanon where he will be active in speeding up the process to elect a new president.

Macron led international efforts after a massive explosion that killed more than 200 people in Beirut in 2019 and destroyed swathes of the capital city. But his efforts afterwards to resolve the political and economic crisis that followed failed.

"In the spirit of friendship that binds France to Lebanon, the President of the Republic continues to act in favor of a solution to the institutional crisis and the implementation of the reforms necessary for the recovery of this country," the French presidency said in a statement.

"He appointed Jean-Yves Le Drian ... as his personal representative in order to discuss with all those who, in Lebanon and abroad, can contribute to breaking the deadlock."

Le Drian was foreign minister between 2017-2022 and had been in charge of putting several of Macron's initiatives for Lebanon into motion and coordinating with the French presidency.

A former Socialist lawmaker and defense minister for five years under President Francois Hollande between 2012-2017, Le Drian is deemed a political heavyweight and is the latest politician to be brought back into Macron's fold over recent months.

After almost four years, France has failed to use its historical influence in the country to push its squabbling politicians to carry out economic reforms that would unlock vital foreign aid.

Most recently it has faced criticism for its role behind the scenes as Lebanon attempts to find a new president.

Lebanon has had no head of state since President Michel Aoun's term ended at the end of October, deepening institutional paralysis in a country where one of the world's worst economic crises has been festering for years.


Sudan Declares UN Special Representative Persona Non Grata

United Nations envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes. (EPA)
United Nations envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes. (EPA)
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Sudan Declares UN Special Representative Persona Non Grata

United Nations envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes. (EPA)
United Nations envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes. (EPA)

The Sudanese government has declared United Nations envoy Volker Perthes "persona non grata", two weeks after the army chief accused him of stoking the country's civil conflict and sought to have him removed from his post.

Since late last year, Perthes and the UN mission he heads in war-torn Sudan have been targeted by protests denouncing perceived foreign interference.

In a letter to the UN last month, Sudan's military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan blamed the envoy for exacerbating fighting between his army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has repeatedly defended Perthes, who earned ire after criticizing both leaders of Sudan's warring parties as the two-month conflict evades efforts to broker a humanitarian ceasefire.

"The Government of the Republic of Sudan has notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that it has declared Mr. Volker Perthes ... persona non grata as of today," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.

Perthes was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday for a series of diplomatic talks, according to the UN mission's Twitter feed.

Last week, the precarity of the UN's status in Sudan was highlighted when the Security Council voted to extend the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) for only six months.

Created in June 2020 to support Sudan's democratic transition after the fall of longtime President Omar al-Bashir a year earlier, UNITAMS's mandate had previously been renewed annually for a year.

Sudan's stuttering path to civilian rule was disrupted in 2021 when Burhan and Daglo together seized power in a coup before falling out.

Spiraling humanitarian crisis

Since April, fighting between the army and the RSF has gripped Khartoum and the western region of Darfur, defying a series of truces.

Upwards of 1,800 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, and the UN says 1.2 million have been displaced, with more than 425,000 fleeing abroad.

Those unable to leave have been forced to camp out for weeks as supplies of food and other vital goods have been depleted.

Entire districts of Khartoum no longer have running water, electricity is only available for a few hours a week and three-quarters of the hospitals in combat zones are not functioning.

The most recent truce was agreed to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid into areas of Sudan ravaged by the fighting, but like all those that preceded, the accord was routinely violated by both sides.

The UN estimates around 25 million people -- more than half of Sudan's population -- are now in need of aid and protection in what was already one of the world's poorest countries before the conflict.

Perthes, a former academic who has headed the Sudan mission since 2021, has staunchly defended the UN against accusations of inflaming the conflict, saying those responsible are "the two generals at war".

In his letter to Guterres, Burhan accused Perthes of bias and of not respecting "national sovereignty".

He said Perthes presented a misleading picture "of consensus" in his reports to the UN, and "without these signs of encouragement, the rebel leader Daglo would not have launched his military operations".

It has never been possible to verify who fired the first shots of the war.


Swiss Team to Visit Lebanon in Central Bank Chief Probe

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh attends a presentation of the IMF Economic Outlook for the Middle East at Lebanon's Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Cynthia Karam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh attends a presentation of the IMF Economic Outlook for the Middle East at Lebanon's Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Cynthia Karam/File Photo
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Swiss Team to Visit Lebanon in Central Bank Chief Probe

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh attends a presentation of the IMF Economic Outlook for the Middle East at Lebanon's Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Cynthia Karam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh attends a presentation of the IMF Economic Outlook for the Middle East at Lebanon's Central Bank in Beirut, Lebanon October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Cynthia Karam/File Photo

A Swiss delegation will visit Lebanon as part of investigations into Central Bank chief Riad Salameh, a judicial official said Thursday, as European legal pressure mounts on the top banker.

Switzerland was the first European country to open an investigation into Salameh, who is the subject of a series of judicial probes at home and abroad into the fortune he has amassed during some three decades in the job.

In January 2021, Lebanon said it had received a Swiss judicial assistance request as part of a probe into more than $300 million in fund movements by the central bank chief, as well as his assistant and his brother.

Lebanon "was informed by the Swiss authorities that a Swiss judicial delegation will visit Lebanon soon" over Salameh's case, the official told AFP on Thursday, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The delegation will meet a local judge and might seek to question individuals over the wealth of Salameh and his entourage as other European countries have done, the official added.

In March 2022, France, Germany and Luxembourg seized assets worth 120 million euros ($130 million) in a move linked to a probe into Salameh's wealth.

Judicial authorities in France and Munich in Germany last month issued arrest warrants for Salameh over accusations including money laundering and fraud, and Interpol subsequently issued Red Notices targeting him.

An Interpol Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant but asks authorities worldwide to provisionally detain people pending possible extradition or other legal action.

European investigators this year have questioned Salameh in Beirut, also hearing from others including his assistant Marianne Hoayek, his brother Raja, a Lebanese minister and central bank audit firms.

Lebanon does not extradite its nationals, but Salameh could go on trial in Lebanon if local judicial authorities decide the accusations against him are founded, an official previously told AFP.

Following the Red Notices, a local judge questioned Salameh, confiscated his French and Lebanese passports, banned him from traveling and released him pending investigation.

In February this year, Lebanon charged Salameh as part of its own investigation, which it opened after the assistance request from Switzerland's public prosecutor.

Salameh, who denies all accusations against him, continues to serve as central bank governor. His mandate ends in July.

Activists say the travel ban helps shield him from being brought to justice abroad -- and from potentially bringing down others in the entrenched political class, which is widely blamed for endemic corruption in the crisis-hit country.


Algeria, US Begin New Round of Security Dialogue

A photo of the US delegation with Algerian military and civilian officials (US Embassy in Algiers)
A photo of the US delegation with Algerian military and civilian officials (US Embassy in Algiers)
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Algeria, US Begin New Round of Security Dialogue

A photo of the US delegation with Algerian military and civilian officials (US Embassy in Algiers)
A photo of the US delegation with Algerian military and civilian officials (US Embassy in Algiers)

Members of a high-ranking US government delegation confirmed at the end of a visit to Algeria that the talks, which brought them together with security officials addressed cooperation and countering terrorism.

The security dialogue is a cornerstone of the US-Algeria relations as both countries seek stability and prosperity in North Africa and the Sahel.

A US interagency delegation of senior officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, and Defense visited Algeria on June 5-6 for a security dialogue to advance shared regional counterterrorism and stability goals.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Anna Morris and other high-ranking US officials met with their counterparts from the Algerian Ministries of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Interior, and Finance.

Morris lauded Algerian efforts and effective policy in combating sources of terrorist financing.

She indicated that Algeria has mechanisms that protect the financial system against all forms of terrorist financing, which also guard the international financial system, including the US.

The talks are within the framework of periodic meetings of a "security dialogue" between the two governments regarding the evaluation of joint actions to counterterrorism, exchanging information about extremists in the Sahel region, drying up terrorism financing sources, and tracking suspicious money sources.

In a press meeting in Algiers on Tuesday, attended by Asharq Al-Awsat, the US delegation mission described the meetings with their Algerian counterparts as "fruitful."

A US official at the Department of Defense said the talks addressed security challenges in the Sahel region, military activities, and strengthening military cooperation and security in the area.

He pointed out that there is a shared vision regarding solving African problems by working to develop development capabilities to achieve prosperity, stressing that this type of issue should not be dealt with through military solutions.

The senior official also pointed out that maintaining stability is crucial to ensure the success of counterterrorism and eradicating poverty.

Deputy Coordinator for the Bureau of Counterterrorism overseeing Regional and Multilateral Affairs Gregory LoGerfo stated that Algeria and the United States are partners in the search for solutions to security problems and the Sahel to achieve prosperity and spread security and stability.

LoGerfo noted that he has been working with Mali, Mauritania, and Togo governments for the same purpose.

The official stressed that Washington is a "reliable partner," with an excellent partnership with Algeria and a shared vision regarding the situation in Mali and Burkina Faso.

LoGerfo has been visiting Algeria since 2015.

Military and civilian sites in Mali and Burkina Faso were recently attacked by extremists.

The three officials stated that the US defense sector is interested in expanding partnerships with African countries in combating terrorism, adding that they are ready to provide tools that can help solve the security issues.

They highlighted that the US government wants African officials to understand how terrorist financing and suspicious funds are transferred abroad to determine the needed mechanisms to address this threat.

Regarding Algeria's endeavor to diversify its military weapons purchases and whether the visit addressed an Algerian request for US military equipment, the delegation members confirmed that their government welcomed a supposed proposal. However, their meetings with Algerian officials did not discuss this matter.


Grundberg Awaits Saudi, Omani Efforts to Find Yemen Solution

Grundberg with British Minister of State Lord Tariq Ahmad (Grundberg's Office)
Grundberg with British Minister of State Lord Tariq Ahmad (Grundberg's Office)
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Grundberg Awaits Saudi, Omani Efforts to Find Yemen Solution

Grundberg with British Minister of State Lord Tariq Ahmad (Grundberg's Office)
Grundberg with British Minister of State Lord Tariq Ahmad (Grundberg's Office)

Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy to Yemen, wrapped up a series of high-level meetings in Riyadh and Muscat with Yemeni parties and ambassadors representing the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council.

During these discussions, Grundberg emphasized that his office is diligently formulating a range of perspectives and visions in anticipation of the outcomes stemming from joint efforts of Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Grundberg clarified that efforts aim to achieve consensus on measures to improve living conditions and implement a nationwide ceasefire, as well as initiate a comprehensive UN-backed process for a sustainable peace transition.

On Monday, the UN envoy visited the Omani capital, Muscat, where he met with senior Omani officials and held discussions with the chief Houthi negotiator, Abdulsalam Fleitah, commonly known as Mohammed Abdulsalam.

They explored ways to advance the ongoing peace efforts.

Grundberg’s visit came after a series of multiple meetings held by the UN envoy in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

During these meetings, he met with Yemeni President of the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Rashad Al-Alimi, Council member Aidarus Al-Zoubaidi, and Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik.

According to the envoy’s statement, these meetings were devoted to discussing ways to achieve consensus on measures to improve living conditions, implement a nationwide ceasefire, and initiate a comprehensive UN-backed process for a sustainable peace transition in Yemen.

Grundberg also met with Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, as well as ambassadors from the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council, in order to consult on ways to ensure combined regional and international support for the mediation efforts led by the UN.

Additionally, Grundberg met with Yemeni House of Representatives Speaker Sultan Al-Barakani and presented the efforts and communications he made during his visits to countries involved in the region, including the US and China, as stated by the official website of the Yemeni House of Representatives.

The UN envoy affirmed that his office is preparing various perspectives and visions for solutions considering the outcomes resulting from the Saudi and Omani efforts, in addition to his own endeavors.

He stated that despite the highly complex Yemeni crisis, the UN remains committed to achieving comprehensive political solutions that serve the Yemeni people, preserve the lives, security, stability, unity, and territorial integrity of its citizens.