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King Salman receives Iraqi PM in Riyadh

October 22, 2017 rbksa 0
Arab News
Sun, 2017-10-22 05:09

RIYADH: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi arrived in Riyadh on Saturday in a visit aimed at further enhancing strategic ties.
King Salman received the prime minister and his accompanying delegation at the king’s palace, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Abadi is to take part in a meeting on Sunday to establish a joint Saudi-Iraqi coordination council aimed at boosting cooperation.
US State Secretary Rex Tillerson, who arrived also on Saturday, is to take part in the meeting, officials said.
Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia is the second this year since Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir visited Baghdad in February, the first such visit by a top Saudi official since 1991.
After former dictator Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Riyadh severed relations with Baghdad and closed its border posts with its northern neighbor.
Ties remained strained even after Saddam’s ouster in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, since when successive Shiite-dominated governments in Baghdad have stayed close to Tehran.
Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Saudi Arabia as both countries suffer from a protracted oil slump. Saudi Arabia is also seeking to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.
Abadi’s visit coincides with Saudi Energy Minister Khaled Al-Falih’s high profile visit to Baghdad where he called for the strengthening of economic relations to boost oil prices.
(With AFP)

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5 former presidents appear together for hurricane relief

October 22, 2017 rbksa 0
The Associated Press
Sun, 2017-10-22 03:00

AUSTIN, Texas: The five living former presidents appeared together for the first time since 2013 on Saturday at a concert to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered on stage in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, putting aside politics to try to unite the country after the storms.
Texas A&M is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson’s disease and appeared in a wheelchair at the event. His wife Barbara and George W. Bush’s wife Laura Bush were in the audience.
The concert features the country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.
The appeal backed by the ex-presidents has raised $31 million since it began on Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush.
Earlier on Saturday, President Donald Trump recorded a video greeting that avoids his past criticism of the former presidents and called them “some of America’s finest public servants.”
“This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another,” Trump said in the message.
The last time the five were together was in 2013, when Obama was still in office, at the dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas.
There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti’s 2011 earthquake.
“It’s certainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “Presidents have the most powerful and prolific fundraising base of any politician in the world. When they send out a call for help, especially on something that’s not political, they can rake in big money.”
Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of “poor leadership,” and later tweeted that, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn’t be able to stay there forever.
But Rottinghaus said those attending Saturday’s concert were always going to be viewed more favorably since polling consistently shows that “any ex-president is seen as less polarizing than the current president.”
“They can’t get away from the politics of the moment,” he said of current White House occupants. “Ex-presidents are able to step back and be seen as the nation’s grandfather.”
Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas’ Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, eventually unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as “One America Appeal.” In it, George W. Bush says, “People are hurting down here.” His father, George H.W. Bush, then replies, “We love you, Texas.”
A website accepting donations,, was created with 100 percent of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief.
Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, while both affected the US Virgin Islands.

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Abe eyes fresh term as Japan votes under N. Korea threats

October 22, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-10-22 04:39

TOKYO: Millions of Japanese braved typhoon conditions Sunday for a snap election likely to hand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a fresh mandate to revive the world’s third-largest economy and press his hard-line stance on North Korea.
If pre-election surveys prove correct, Abe’s conservative coalition will cruise to a crushing majority to win a fresh term at the helm of the key US regional ally and Asian economic powerhouse.
Polling stations opened across the country at 7:00am (2200 GMT Saturday) with voters battling high winds and driving rain as an election-day typhoon barrelled toward Japan.
Analysts say that if the weather affects turnout, it is likely to benefit Abe, whose conservative voters are more determined, putting the nationalist blueblood on course to become the country’s longest-serving leader.
“I support Abe’s stance not to give in to North Korea’s pressure,” one voter, Yoshihisa Iemori, said as he cast his ballot in Tokyo.
“I’m focusing on this point for the election,” the 50-year-old construction firm owner told AFP.
The near-constant drizzle throughout the campaign has not dampened the enthusiasm of hundreds of doughty, sash-wearing parliamentary hopefuls, who have driven around in minibuses pleading for votes via loudspeaker and bowing deeply to every potential voter.
But with little doubt over the eventual result, the suspense lies in whether Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner will retain its two-thirds majority in the lower house.
Such a “supermajority” would allow Abe to propose changes to Japan’s US-imposed constitution that forces it to “renounce” war and effectively limits its military to a self-defense role.
Ballot boxes close at 8:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) when broadcasters publish generally reliable exit polls.

Abe shocked Japan by calling the snap election a year earlier than expected, urging voters to stick with him in the face of what he termed the dual “national crises” of an aging population and North Korean tensions.
Pyongyang has cast a menacing shadow over the short 12-day campaign, after it lobbed two missiles over the northern island of Hokkaido and threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea.
Nationalist Abe has taken a hawkish line during the crisis, binding Japan to the US stance that “all options” are on the table to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear threat and urging maximum pressure via sanctions.
“When North Korea is purposefully threatening us and increasing tension, we must not waver,” an animated Abe stressed at his final campaign rally.
“We must not yield to the threat of North Korea.”
Observers say North Korea’s sabre-rattling has helped Abe, 63, as voters tend to plump for the incumbent at times of heightened tension.

Despite a clear lead in the polls, Abe enjoys only lukewarm support in the country and critics say he called the election to divert attention from a series of scandals that dented his popularity.
Voter Etsuko Nakajima, 84, told AFP: “I totally oppose the current government. Morals collapsed. I’m afraid this country will be broken.”
“I think if the LDP takes power, Japan will be in danger. He does not do politics for the people,” added the pensioner.
But Abe faces a weak and fractured opposition in the shape of two parties that have only existed for a few weeks, the Party of Hope created by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the center-left Constitutional Democratic Party.
Koike, 65, threatened to shake up Japan’s sleepy landscape with her new party, vowing to do away with old-school politics and vested interests.
But after days of wall-to-wall media coverage for the former TV presenter, the bubble burst and Koike’s popularity ratings plunged, mainly because she declined to run herself in the election.
“As it turned out, the Party of Hope is hopeless,” said Michael Cucek from Temple University.
Koike herself was even in Japan on election day, choosing to visit Paris for an event in her capacity as Tokyo Governor.
The center-left Constitutional Democratic Party may benefit from her decline and could become the second biggest party.

Despite the threat from North Korea, many voters feel the economy is a more pressing issue, as the prime minister’s trademark “Abenomics” policy has had limited success in returning Japan to its former glories.
While the stock market stands at a 21-year high, the benefits have been slow to trickle down to the general public.
“Neither pensions nor wages are getting better… I don’t feel the economy is recovering at all,” said 67-year-old pensioner Hideki Kawasaki.
Abe has vowed to use part of the proceeds from a proposed sales tax hike to provide free childcare in a bid to get more women working but Koike wants to scrap the tax hike altogether.

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Baghdad trade fair strengthens Saudi-Iraqi economic ties

October 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-10-22 04:00

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia showcased its strong participation at the 44th Baghdad International Fair on Saturday.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Iraqi Trade Minister Salman Al-Jumaili were among prominent figures at the inauguration of the fair running from Oct. 21 to 30 in which 18 countries and 400 local and international companies are taking part.
Al-Jumaili said that the launch of the fair coincides with the complete liberation of many Iraqi areas. “This is a clear and true message that Iraq is ready to cooperate in the fields of investment and reconstruction and is capable of fighting and combating terrorism and strengthening its relationships through real and constructive partnerships,” he said.
Al-Falih said over 60 Saudi companies are taking part in the fair which highlights the high level of Saudi participation.
He stressed “the strong cultural and economic historical bonds” between the two countries.
Saudi Exports Development Authority (SEDA) Secretary-General Saleh Al-Salami said Saudi participation emphasized the political and economic openness between the two countries.
In a separate development, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Riyadh on Saturday to attend a landmark meeting between officials from Saudi Arabia and Iraq aimed at improving relations between the two countries and countering Iran’s growing regional influence.
Improved relations between the two countries led to Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) announcing its first flight to Baghdad on Oct. 30, according to Sabq.
This will be the first flight after 27 years of interruption.
On Wednesday, Saudi budget airline, Flynas, made a similar flight from the Kingdom to Iraq.

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60 Saudi firms participate in Baghdad trade fair

October 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Arab News
Sun, 2017-10-22 03:00

BAGHDAD: Under the title “We liberated our land and with your cooperation we will build it,” Iraqi Trade Minister, Salman Al-Jumaili, launched the 44th Baghdad International Fair running from 21-30 October with Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid Al-Falih, attending. The opening ceremony was also attended by the governor of Baghdad, Hashem Mohammed Hatem, with the participation of 18 countries and 400 local and international companies.

Al-Jumaili welcomed guests participating in this important economic fair, which serves as a platform for strengthening friendship bonds between Iraq and other Arab, regional and international.
“The launch of the 44th Baghdad International Fair coincides with the complete liberation of many Iraqi areas, and this is a clear and true message that Iraq is ready to cooperate in the fields of investment and reconstruction and is capable of fighting and combating terrorism and strengthening its relationships through real and constructive partnerships,” he said.
Saudi minister, Al-Falih, expressed his delight to be present in his second country, Iraq, and said that Saudi participation was characterized by including more than 60 companies of different purposes in the largest section in the fair.
He also explained that there are strong, cultural, economic and historical bonds between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and said, “Today, the two countries share the same vision, which aims to build a promising future for their people through building national capacities, investing in resources and establishing business and industrial partnerships in order to build a strong, diversified economy.”
Al-Falih pointed out that the two countries share many factors, including a comprehensive economy, as well as true potential, such as human capital, a strategic geographical location, energy, water, mineral and agricultural resources, exceptional industrial capabilities and tourism potential.
“Investing in these sectors will allow for better cooperation between the two countries,” he added.
“A good example of the importance of a successful cooperation between the two countries is the stability and improvement the oil market has witnessed as a result of cooperation between OPEC countries,” Al-Falih added.
Saudi Exports Development Authority (SEDA) Secretary-General Saleh Al-Salami said that the participation of the authority in the Baghdad International Fair stems from its role in promoting Saudi products to reach international markets.
Al-Salami clarified that the Kingdom, through its participation, stresses the political and economic openness between the two countries; its concern to include its best companies in the Iraqi market in order to increase the exchange between the two countries; its determination to show the high quality of Saudi products and their competitiveness with international products; and the capacity of Saudi products to efficiently and effectively cover neighboring states.
This step also stresses the authority’s desire to “contribute in boosting the national economy by focusing on non-oil exports and diversifying the sources of income to achieve Vision 2030 and encourage national companies to participate in the exhibitions organized by the authority.”
Al-Salami said: “The choice of the Iraqi market is a result of many discussions held between the authority and a number of exporters to discuss and determine major challenges they have been facing, find solutions to overcome them, and find ways that facilitate the arrival of Saudi products on the Iraqi market.”

He added that the authority, through its participation, aims to discover new market opportunities for Saudi products in a promising market like the Iraq, and facilitate the export process to the country in cooperation with the relevant authorities.

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Russian president: King Salman’s visit to Moscow a great honor

October 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-10-22 03:00

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Saudi King Salman’s visit to Moscow was a great honor for Russia, and described it as a “historical event” because it was the first visit by a Saudi monarch to the country and demonstrates Saudi interest in building good bilateral relations.
Putin said: “The visit shows the Saudi approach in building relations with Russia, and the extent of common interests between the two countries. We have coordinated with the OPEC countries, primarily the Kingdom, to work for the stability of oil prices, and we are quite pleased with our collective work. We also have a chance to cooperate on military and technology levels.”
“There are no significant differences between Russia and Saudi Arabia or the other regional countries,” he said in response to a question during the 14th session of the Valdai International Dialogue Forum in the Russian city of Sochi.
“Saudi Arabia had good relations with the Soviet Union,” Putin added, “and there is nothing that divides us significantly. Therefore, I do not see any causes for differences with the Kingdom or other regional countries. Rather, I have very good personal relations with all these countries.”

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Saudi Arabia retrieves 52,000 historical artefacts since 2011

October 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-10-22 03:00

JEDDAH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) announced that it has successfully retrieved more than 52,000 artefacts from inside and outside the country as part of the National Project for Digital Recording of Antiquities, which follows international standards for archaeological recording and archiving.
The project aims to document and store all historic sites, artefacts, historical monument and urban heritage buildings in a comprehensive national digital registry linked to a multi-dimensional digital map, which is compatible with modern GIS technologies and digital databases, maps, images and graphics.
Director-General of Archiving and Protecting Antiquities at the SCTH, Naif Al-Qannour, said: “The new digital recording project stores detailed information and reports about 32,000 artefacts retrieved from outside the Kingdom and 20,000 returned by citizens to the SCTH since Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of SCTH, launched the campaign to retrieve national artefacts in 2011.”
“Some artefacts found their way outside Saudi Arabia through foreign travelers who moved them to other countries.” Al-Qannour continued, “One of the most famous artefacts is the Tayma Stone, which was discovered by Charles Huber and later on displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris.”
He also explained that many employees of foreign companies, especially those who work in the oil industry, visited many parts of Saudi Arabia to study their geology and natural manifestations, collected the artefacts they found and took them to national museums at their home countries.
“Robbers of archaeological sites sometimes dig for archaeological treasures and achieve fast financial gains,” Al-Qannour said, “By doing so, they are destroying important archaeological evidence found in these sites, be it on land or in the sea.”
Al-Qannour stated that the SCTH will continue to work on retrieving and protecting artefacts and has released a red list of artefacts stolen from their sites inside Saudi Arabia and information about them in order to make them easier to identify. The SCTH has also announced handing financial rewards to those who return artefacts or report their loss or theft.
In 2011, Prince Sultan launched a campaign for retrieving national artefacts, including media and cultural programs and initiatives that aim to enlighten and inform citizens about the value of artefacts and the importance of returning them to the SCTH.
Recently, the SCTH released a list of 140 names of citizens who returned artefacts, reported archaeological sites or cooperated with the SCTH in protecting the country’s cultural heritage between 2013 and 2017 in order to honor them during the First Antiquities Forum, which will be launched under the patronage of King Salman, on Nov. 7 at the National Museum in Riyadh.

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OIC to hold forum on media role in combating hate speech

October 21, 2017 rbksa 0
Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Sun, 2017-10-22 03:00

RIYADH: The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) will hold its 4th international seminar on “The Role of Media in Combating Hate Speech” at the Hotel La Tour Hassan Palace, Rabat, Morocco, Oct. 23-24.
“The IPHRC is mandated to address issues concerning Islamophobia and hate speech which are serious violations of human rights and an affront to human dignity,” Maha Akeel, the director of the OIC information department, told Arab News on Saturday.
Akeel added that at present “we are witnessing an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and violent acts in Europe and the US.”
She added that the seminar is “part of the OIC’s and IPHRC’s efforts to confront this phenomenon and contribute to mitigating the negative effect it has on society, while promoting tolerance, understanding and multiculturalism.”
“And of course, the media plays a big role in that so this seminar will focus on that,” Akeel said.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the symposium will focus on analyzing the role of the media and professionals in promoting freedom of expression in a responsible manner.
The seminar will be attended by OIC members and observer states, including their national human rights institutions, experts from different relevant international and regional organizations, senior officials of the UN, Moroccan state ministries and media representatives.
KSA calls UN for action against hateful media
During the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, Saudi UN official Yasser Al-Dabaan urged the UN to seek accuracy, ensure credibility, enforce precision and rely on official news platforms to obtain the information used in its reports and statements.
“The UN Department of Public Information must not rely on media that encourages hate speech, promotes extremism, violence and destruction, threatens countries’ security and stability, and spreads falsified reports,” Al-Dabaan said in a meeting of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee).
“Saudi Arabia has launched many communication initiatives through several ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Communication and Media Center, which communicates with the world in 18 languages, and the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology,” he added.
Al-Dabaan also highlighted that Saudi Arabia, through its traditional and new media, is working hard on instilling the values of moderation, justice and transparency, in addition to combating extremism and its ideology, promoting peaceful dialogue and increasing women’s contribution to the media industry.
“Saudi Arabia reaffirms its support for the UN’s efforts and the undersecretary-general for global communications, as well as its transparent cooperation with all UN agencies, IGOs and INGOs in communicating and providing information,” Al-Dabaan concluded.

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