Palestinian PM Rejects Economic Projects in Gaza

A Palestinian man walks past a mural in the Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)
A Palestinian man walks past a mural in the Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)
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Palestinian PM Rejects Economic Projects in Gaza

A Palestinian man walks past a mural in the Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)
A Palestinian man walks past a mural in the Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced that the government considers the recent developments that have taken place in the Gaza Strip to be an implementation of the “deal of the century” US peace proposal, adding that they correspond to the plans announced by the US president’s advisor, Jared Kushner, at the Manama workshop in June.

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah Monday, Shtayyeh said the US hospital that will be built near the Gaza border, as well as the industrial cities, ports and floating islands, all embody the US plan that refuses to acknowledge the political demands and national rights of the Palestinian people.

These projects and schemes aim at eliminating the Palestinian national project, he said, stressing that the government rejects all Israeli settlement plans, especially in the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron.

The PM called on the international community to take immediate measures against such plans.

“The new settlement project in Hebron’s wholesale market confirms Israel’s insistence on waging a direct confrontation as it implements a destructive scheme with broad political objectives,” he was quoted by the Wafa news agency as saying.

The premier asserted that these plans have come to light as settlers are escalating their violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank under Israeli army protection and command.

He pointed out that the timing of these projects is “deliberate” because they coincide with the discussion on Palestinian elections, restoring national unity, and while Gaza is under siege.

In reality, however, Shtayyeh said these projects perpetuate the status quo in the Gaza Strip and deviate attention from national unity, warning that they strike at the foundations of the Palestinian national project.

He stressed the need to end the intra-Palestinian division by holding the general elections, which are the basic and democratic way to achieve that.

Hamas is seeking a long-term truce with Israel, which includes projects in the Gaza Strip, in return for halting attacks and reaching an agreement on the issue of Hamas detainees and prisoners.

The Palestinian Authority considers this an attempt to separate Gaza from the West Bank and preparation to establishing a new state within the enclave.



GERD Dispute Takes Center Stage at UN Amid Ongoing Negotiations

GERD Dispute Takes Center Stage at UN Amid Ongoing Negotiations
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GERD Dispute Takes Center Stage at UN Amid Ongoing Negotiations

GERD Dispute Takes Center Stage at UN Amid Ongoing Negotiations

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue has again become a global concern discussed at the UN General Assembly, as Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia launched a new round of negotiations.

The issue was highlighted in speeches by the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia amid doubts about progress in the current round, aiming to reach an agreement by the end of November.

Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, focused on the GERD crisis, addressing Egypt's severe water scarcity and 98 percent dependency on the Nile River.

Shoukry highlighted Egypt's annual water deficit, which is more than 50 percent of its water needs, forcing the country to reuse its limited available water multiple times.

The top diplomat reiterated Egypt's rejection of Ethiopia's unilateral practices on filling the GERD and its attempts to use the dam to impose a fait accompli "when it comes to the lives of over 100 million Egyptians."

The country needs to reuse water and import "virtual water," estimated at $15 billion annually, in the form of food.

He recalled that Ethiopia has unilaterally, and without previous impact studies, built a Grand Renaissance Dam, noting that Cairo is trying to reach a binding agreement on the rules of its operation while also considering the interests of the neighboring countries.

For his part, Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen Hassen emphasized the importance of regional cooperation, welcoming the resumption of trilateral talks with Egypt and Sudan regarding the dam.

He affirmed Ethiopia's commitment to collaborate with its neighbors in trade, investment, and regional integration.

Negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia regarding the dam have been ongoing since 2011, but extensive negotiation rounds have yet to produce an agreement.

The talks halted in 2021 but resumed upon mutual agreement between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last July. They aim to agree on the dam's filling and operation within four months.

Despite these efforts, the issue remains contentious. Ethiopia announced this month the completion of the dam's fourth and final filling stage, a move criticized by Egypt.

Experts such as the former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Nasereddine Allam, believe the negotiations may not yield any new outcomes.

Allam told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt's focus on reintroducing the GERD issue at international forums reflects the challenges of the water situation in the country.

He highlighted that Egypt's share of Nile waters provides about 500 cubic meters per person annually, half of the minimum water poverty level defined by the World Bank.

The former official pointed out that the circumstances in Sudan and Egypt need to offer more leverage to resolve this regional crisis, noting that resorting to the Security Council will not provide a decisive solution.

Negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia have been suspended since January 2021.

Egypt resorted to the Security Council in July 2020, but the Council merely urged the three countries to resume negotiations at the request of the African Union (AU), aiming to finalize an acceptable and binding agreement for all.

Meanwhile, former Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs Ali al-Hafni confirmed that despite the Security Council not taking a decisive decision regarding the GERD dispute, the UN and the Security Council are the "international reference."

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Hafni said Addis Ababa has not responded to the efforts of many African Union chairpersons over multiple terms, pushing Cairo to rely on the international community, especially given the exacerbating climate crises and the escalating regional water risks.

He asserted the need to update the international community about the crisis's developments continuously.


Int’l Warnings of Catastrophe if Conflict in Yemen Continues

Food rations are being prepared in Sanaa to be distributed to distressed families. (EPA)
Food rations are being prepared in Sanaa to be distributed to distressed families. (EPA)
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Int’l Warnings of Catastrophe if Conflict in Yemen Continues

Food rations are being prepared in Sanaa to be distributed to distressed families. (EPA)
Food rations are being prepared in Sanaa to be distributed to distressed families. (EPA)

Several international organizations have warned of a catastrophe on all levels if the conflict in Yemen continues.

The World Health Organization revealed that countries such as Yemen still suffer from prolonged conflict, fragile health systems, and weakness towards the climate crises and the pandemics’ destructive impact.

Seventeen million people are food insecure. Nearly 15.4 million people require access to safe water and sanitation. Up to 20.3 million people lack access to healthcare.

The WHO said “every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth.”

World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti, Middle East and North Africa Stephane Guimbert said on his X account, "Yemen, at war for eight years, calls for support.”

He noted that 17.7 million need protection stressing that “Yemen is a priority for SDGs at GlobalGoalsUN.”

“Yemen's shattered economy showcases the immense challenges faced by its people daily. Their determination deserves our 100 percent attention and action.”

More than 98 international and local aid organizations affirmed in a joint statement that “Yemen stands at the historic opportunity for a shift towards lasting peace. The humanitarian community is committed to supporting this shift.”

“The people of Yemen need and want to look into the future and move away from humanitarian assistance towards self-reliance and rebuilding their country,” read the statement.

“Already exhausted by more than eight years of war, over 21.6 million people, 75 percent of the Yemeni population, are grappling with humanitarian needs.”

“Today, we are still faced with 17 million people who are food insecure. This includes 6.1 million people in the emergency phase under the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which signifies extreme food shortages and acute malnutrition, especially affecting women and children, with a risk of hunger-related deaths.”

They added that "Yemen faces critical water shortages for both agricultural production and human use."

The statement urged the donor Member States to urgently consider “upscaling of quality and flexible humanitarian funding, in line with the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan.”


Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza for 3rd Day in a Row

Palestinians wearing masks attach incendiary devices to balloons before releasing them to Israeli lands near the border between Israel and Eastern Gaza Strip, 24 September 2023.  EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
Palestinians wearing masks attach incendiary devices to balloons before releasing them to Israeli lands near the border between Israel and Eastern Gaza Strip, 24 September 2023. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
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Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza for 3rd Day in a Row

Palestinians wearing masks attach incendiary devices to balloons before releasing them to Israeli lands near the border between Israel and Eastern Gaza Strip, 24 September 2023.  EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
Palestinians wearing masks attach incendiary devices to balloons before releasing them to Israeli lands near the border between Israel and Eastern Gaza Strip, 24 September 2023. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

Israeli airstrikes struck militant sites in the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the third straight day, the Israeli military said, after Palestinians near the border fence launched incendiary balloons into Israel and threw an explosive at soldiers.

There were no reported casualties from the strikes. Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military shot and wounded five Palestinians who were rallying at the separation fence along the Israeli frontier with the crowded enclave.

The Israeli army said Sunday it had targeted two posts belonging to Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, just east of the Bureij refugee camp and Jabaliya. The posts were close to the fence separating the territory from Israel, where dozens of Palestinians have been holding daily demonstrations for the past week.

On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit a militant site for the second time in two days, after Palestinians sent incendiary balloons into Israeli farmland and Palestinian protesters threw stones and explosives at soldiers at the separation fence
The spike in violence comes during the Jewish New Year holiday season. Jews are set to mark Yom Kippur, the holiest day on their calendar, on Sunday night followed by the weeklong Sukkot festival later in the month.

For the third time in as many days, media outlets posted photos of protesters sending a barrage of balloons attached to incendiary devices over the eastern border. The Israeli army said the balloons set two fires in Israel.


Iran Grants Iraq Few Days to Relocate Kurdish Fighters

The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri (IRNA)
The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri (IRNA)
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Iran Grants Iraq Few Days to Relocate Kurdish Fighters

The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri (IRNA)
The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri (IRNA)

The Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri, said his country is giving the Kurdistan region and Iraq a few days to disarm the Kurdish parties and expel them from all over Iraq.

Iranian media outlets reported Bagheri saying there is no place in the region for Iran's enemies, foreigners, or the opposing Kurdish parties.

He added that the armed separatist terrorist forces must be completely disarmed and expelled from all over Iraq.

Bagheri explained that it was planned to disarm these groups by September 19, but during the six-month deadline, these groups were slightly retreated from the borders.

He also mentioned that President Ebrahim Raisi asked the forces to be patient and granted a few days' extension, as reported by the Arab World News Agency.

Earlier, Raisi said during a military parade commemorating the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s that the Iraqi government has taken a positive step.

However, he requested the Iranian Chief of Staff to dispatch military delegations to the Kurdistan region to ensure the disarmament of the "separatist" Kurdish parties, whether at the borders with Iran, deep within the region, or any other location.

Iran had set September 19 as the final date for Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to take action against Kurdish parties opposed to Tehran, bases along the borders

The high committee for the implementation of the joint security agreement between Iraq and Iran announced on Tuesday the final evacuation of the bases of the Iranian opposition groups near the border.

The Radio Farda website cited Kurdish sources, saying that some of these parties detonated their headquarters near the Iranian border before leaving those sites, including the base of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Qoy Sanjaq.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that Baghdad has started implementing on-the-ground procedures to secure its border with Iran in coordination with the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Last September, the IRGC attacked with more than 70 surface-to-air missiles and dozens of booby-trapped drones in Iraqi Kurdistan, targeting several locations, including the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan.

At the time, observers said the attack was an attempt to divert attention from the protests that raged in the country for months after the death of the young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, while the morality police were detaining her.

Iran blamed Western countries for being behind the protests and accused the Kurdish opposition parties of expanding them to Kurdish cities in western Iran.


Iraqi Prime Minister to Meet US President at White House

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the General Assembly (Iraq's Premiership)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the General Assembly (Iraq's Premiership)
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Iraqi Prime Minister to Meet US President at White House

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the General Assembly (Iraq's Premiership)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani at the General Assembly (Iraq's Premiership)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani traveled to New York to lead his country's delegation to the United Nations General Assembly meetings.

Sudani's supporters, including factions of the Shiite Coordination Framework, expressed concerns over the possibility of a meeting with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

While the primary aim may not necessarily have been securing a meeting with Biden, the real intention for Sudani's trip to New York was to sidestep criticisms from adversaries.

Several critics argued that Sudani's government, which refrained from any criticism of Washington for the past few months, would, at best, secure a mere photo-op with Biden.

However, events in New York unfolded in Sudani's favor. After his arrival, the Prime Minister embarked on a series of meetings with top US officials, followed by diverse interactions with global leaders, corporate heads, and media entities.

One of Sudani's key meetings was with an assistant to the US Treasury Secretary.

A significant indicator of the US support was an official invitation extended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to attend an official summit with Biden in Washington later in the year.

The invitation served as a relief for Sudani's supporters as it conveyed a broader message.

Many of his supporters, especially from the Shiite Coordination Framework, perceived as adversaries to the US, welcomed this development.

Meanwhile, Rabie Nader, Sudani's media director, expressed his satisfaction with the visit, highlighting the successful series of meetings in New York.

Nader emphasized the proactive engagement and attention the Iraqi Prime Minister received from global leaders, indicating a sincere interest in deepening ties with Iraq beyond mere symbolic gestures.

Sudani projected Iraq's balanced stance throughout his six-day visit, emphasizing economic partnerships and collaborative endeavors.


World Bank Approves $150 Mn for Better Health, Nutrition in Yemen

Two million Yemeni children face the threat of extreme malnutrition (UN)
Two million Yemeni children face the threat of extreme malnutrition (UN)
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World Bank Approves $150 Mn for Better Health, Nutrition in Yemen

Two million Yemeni children face the threat of extreme malnutrition (UN)
Two million Yemeni children face the threat of extreme malnutrition (UN)

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors has approved an International Development Association (IDA) grant amounting to $150 million as a Second Additional Financing (AF2) for the Yemen Emergency Human Capital Project (YEHCP).

The financing is set to continue delivering essential health, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services while strengthening the country's systems throughout the embattled nation.

The Bank highlighted that a series of catastrophic events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, measles outbreaks, a cholera epidemic, a locust invasion, and flooding, coupled with escalating food prices, food insecurity, and fragmented delivery of services have adversely affected the country's systems to respond to basic needs.

- Four Key Areas

The project focuses on four main areas: improving healthcare and nutrition services at primary healthcare centers and hospitals, enhancing water supply and sanitation services, strengthening local systems, and providing comprehensive project support and management.

The additional financing aims to bolster institutional capacity and strengthen the health, water, and sanitation system's ability to improve coverage and quality of essential services and resilience against cyclical infectious disease outbreaks.

A vital aspect of this enhancement includes bolstering surveillance, enhancing early detection services, and reinforcing the expertise of healthcare professionals.

The additional financing will also support the country's health information management system to collect quality data for health policy and service delivery.

According to the World Bank's data, As of March 31, 2023, 8.4 million beneficiaries had been served by the project, exceeding its initial target.

The health and nutrition program alone has helped over 4.49 million women and over three million children, with sustained, high coverage of critical maternal and child health services offered at over 2,000 health facilities.

Furthermore, water supply and sanitation measures have provided over 450,000 individuals, 48.5 percent of whom were women and girls, with improved access.

However, based on the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 17 million people still face acute food insecurity.

Acute malnutrition plagues two million children and 1.3 million pregnant and lactating women. It is a fight against time and deteriorating human conditions.

World Bank Country Manager for Yemen Tania Meyer emphasized the race against time and the deteriorating humanitarian conditions, voicing concerns over the alarming decline of human capital in Yemen.

"In 2023 alone, nearly 21.6 million people, which is roughly three-quarters of the population and includes a staggering 12.9 million children, are in dire need of assistance," she said.

"With this additional financing, we will remain laser-focused on preserving essential health, nutrition, and WASH services while enhancing local systems for delivery. It is imperative that partners continue to collaborate and innovate with scale and urgency to support the country."

The World Bank's country-wide program for Yemen has reached $3.9 billion in IDA grants since 2016.

In addition to funding, the World Bank provides technical expertise to design projects and guide their implementation by building solid partnerships with UN agencies and local institutions with working capacity on the ground.


Israeli Military Raid Kills 2 Palestinians in West Bank

Palestinians inspect a damaged building following an Israeli army raid in Nour Shams refugee camp in the northern West Bank, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians inspect a damaged building following an Israeli army raid in Nour Shams refugee camp in the northern West Bank, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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Israeli Military Raid Kills 2 Palestinians in West Bank

Palestinians inspect a damaged building following an Israeli army raid in Nour Shams refugee camp in the northern West Bank, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians inspect a damaged building following an Israeli army raid in Nour Shams refugee camp in the northern West Bank, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Two Palestinians were killed during an Israeli military raid Sunday in the northern West Bank, Palestinian health officials said.

The Israeli military said it moved into the Nour Shams refugee camp, near the town of Tulkarem, to destroy what it described as a militant command center and bomb-storage facility in a building.

It said that engineering units detonated a number of bombs planted under roads, and that militants opened fire and hurled explosives, as troops responded with live fire.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said two men — Asid Abu Ali, 21, and Abdulrahman Abu Daghash, 32 — were killed by Israeli fire. The raid caused heavy damage to roads and the suspected building.

Israel has been carrying out stepped-up military raids, primarily in the northern West Bank, for the past year and a half in what it says is a campaign to root out Palestinian militants and thwart future attacks.

But Palestinians say the raids entrench Israel’s 56-year occupation over the West Bank. The raids have shown little sign of slowing the fighting and contributed to the weakening of the Palestinian Authority.


Bathily Urges Authorities in East, West Libya to Work Together Following Floods

Bathily met on Saturday with members of the Political Affairs Commission of the High Council of State. Photo: UNSMIL
Bathily met on Saturday with members of the Political Affairs Commission of the High Council of State. Photo: UNSMIL
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Bathily Urges Authorities in East, West Libya to Work Together Following Floods

Bathily met on Saturday with members of the Political Affairs Commission of the High Council of State. Photo: UNSMIL
Bathily met on Saturday with members of the Political Affairs Commission of the High Council of State. Photo: UNSMIL

Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Abdoulaye Bathily has stressed the need for the authorities in East and West Libya to conduct a joint assessment of the humanitarian response following deadly floods in the country’s northeast.

Bathily met on Saturday with members of the Political Affairs Commission of the High Council of State.

He said on X (formerly Twitter) that he “listened to their assessment of the social, humanitarian, economic and political dimensions of the Derna disaster.”

“I stressed the need for authorities in the East and West to conduct a joint assessment of the humanitarian response and reconstruction needs,” he said.

“It is imperative that political leaders live up the moment and work together to overcome the tragedy,” he added.

The disaster in the Libyan city of Derna was caused by the collapse of two dams during a storm on the night of Sept. 10 that unleashed a deadly torrent.


UN Secretary General Meets Alimi, Pledges Efforts to Renew Truce in Yemen

 Chairman of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2023. (AFP)
Chairman of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2023. (AFP)
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UN Secretary General Meets Alimi, Pledges Efforts to Renew Truce in Yemen

 Chairman of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2023. (AFP)
Chairman of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council, Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2023. (AFP)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres pledged ‏to exert all efforts to renew the truce in Yemen, ‏restart the political process, and enable Yemenis to build ‏a state based on partnership and respect for human rights

During a meeting in New York with Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) President Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, Guterres renewed the ‏international organization's commitment to supporting the ‏ PLC and government, the official Yemeni news agency SABA reported.‏

Alimi said‏ that the ‏government is open to initiatives that could lead to a comprehensive ‏solution agreed upon at national, regional and international levels, ‏particularly to those respecting UN resolutions.

He praised the mediation efforts ‏led by Saudi Arabia and Oman to ‏renew the truce and launch a political process under UN auspices.


Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Meets Sudan’s Burhan, Discusses Russian Paramilitaries

In this handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service on September 23, 2023, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (R) speaks with President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) during their meeting at Shannon Airport, in Shannon, western Ireland. (Handout / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)
In this handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service on September 23, 2023, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (R) speaks with President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) during their meeting at Shannon Airport, in Shannon, western Ireland. (Handout / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)
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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Meets Sudan’s Burhan, Discusses Russian Paramilitaries

In this handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service on September 23, 2023, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (R) speaks with President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) during their meeting at Shannon Airport, in Shannon, western Ireland. (Handout / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)
In this handout photograph taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service on September 23, 2023, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (R) speaks with President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) during their meeting at Shannon Airport, in Shannon, western Ireland. (Handout / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday he held an impromptu meeting in Ireland's Shannon airport with the head of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and that they discussed Russia-funded armed groups.

"We discussed our common security challenges, namely the activities of illegal armed groups financed by Russia," Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram.

He thanked Sudan, which is currently in the midst of a deadly civil war, for its support of Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Russia's Wagner mercenary group has operated in Ukraine throughout Moscow's invasion. Western diplomats and media have said the group is also present in Sudan, although Wagner denied this.