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Syrian army advances south toward rebel-held area

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The Syrian army said it had retaken a swathe of territory from Islamic State in southern Syria on Thursday in a rapid advance near areas held by U.S.-backed Syrian rebels at the border with Jordan and Iraq. Tensions flared in the southern region last week when the U.S.-led coalition mounted an air strike against pro-government forces that U.S. officials said posed a threat to U.S. and U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in the area. Washington described the forces as Iranian-directed. The Syrian army on Thursday declared the capture of areas to the south of Palmyra and to the east of Qaryatayn in southeastern Homs province. An official with one of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel groups operating in southern Syria told Reuters that government forces appeared to be trying to preempt any rebel move toward Deir al-Zor, another priority target for the government.

 

Trump budget keeps pledges: Cuts for poor, more for military

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President Donald Trump fulfilled a major campaign promise Tuesday, proposing a $4.1 trillion budget plan that would upend Washington in a big way. But he drew rebukes, even from some Republican allies, for the plan’s jarring, politically unrealistic cuts to the social safety net for the poor and a broad swath of other domestic programs. The budget, Trump’s first as president, combines his spending plan for the upcoming 2018 fiscal year with a promise to balance government books after a decade, relying on aggressive cuts, a surge in economic growth — and a $2 trillion-plus accounting gimmick. “Through streamlined government, we will drive an economic boom that raises incomes and expands job opportunities for all Americans”, Trump declared in his budget message.

Saudi FM Summit with US will open a new page with Washington

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During a press conference, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Kingdom, Adel Jubeir, has said he deeply trusts in this imminent visit to Saudi Arabia by Trump, in order to reinforce and to ensure the historic ties between USA and Saudi Arabia. He has also confessed he hopes it will be possible signing several deals, both of political and economic sides. This future Summit will be attended by 37 representatives of several states from muslim, arab countries and they are going to discuss themes like fight against terrorism, youth employment and involvement, bolstering trade and finally technology. Adel Juber has also mentioned and pointed out Muslim and Arab World are not enemy to West and they come after US in fighting against ISIS. The foreign minister is really confident this Summit will pave the way to create a new page with arab reality. He has also declared, at the end of meeting, the represents of Member States will launch a global counter-terrorism center in Riyadh, which will be able to conduct ideological battles.

Sahar Nasr talked about the allocation of the third tranche from World Bank to the Egypt

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The Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr held a meeting with the World Bank’s vice president, Jan Walliser, during her current visit to Washington to attend the bank’s spring meetings. Egypt minister, talked about the allocation of the third tranche of the loan ($1bn), from World Bank to the country. Furthermore, Nasr said that the government wants the World Bank to expand financing to develop projects in Upper Egypt, which were originally financed with $500m, as well as to consider establishing more labourintensive projects by allocating finances worth $150m.

Hasbani from Washington: US administration's attitude towards Lebanon "positive"

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Vice Prime Minister, Public Health Minister, Ghassan Hasbani, wrapped up his meetings at the World Bank in Washington, where he succeeded in approving a sum of 150 million dollars in support of the infrastructure of the health sector in Lebanon. During his visit, Hasbani briefed to the decision makers Lebanon’s suffering, due to the Syrian influx, socially, medically, financially, and economically, and the heavy toll all those took on the country’s infrastructure. Minister Hasabani revealed that the meetings that he held with some of the U.S. officials were positive, noting that the new U.S. administration was aware of the challenges that Lebanon was facing.

Ministry of Public Health Ghassan Hasbani begins meetings in Washington.

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Minister of Public Health, Ghassan Hasbani, started his meeting on Thursday at the World Bank headquarters in Washington. He met with World Bank’s Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Hafez Ghanem. Minister Hasbani then met with a delegation of the committees concerned by the discussion of the projects, in presence of the World Bank’s task force, as well as relevant directors and representatives of donor countries. Hasbani shed lights on the project developed by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health in cooperation with the World Bank to support the health sector in Lebanon.

 

Abbas says willing to meet Netanyahu with Trump mediation

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U.S. President Donald Trump will host Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington on May 3, the White House said on Wednesday. “They will use the visit to reaffirm the commitment of both the United States and Palestinian leadership to pursuing and ultimately concluding a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel”. White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters. In the interview, Abbas said he does not believe there is a viable alternative to the two-state solution. He said a diplomatic solution would be the result of “a painful Palestinian compromise. We have recognized Israel since 1993, but Israel has yet to recognize a Palestinian state.”Abbas reiterated his opposition to the U.S. moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Should that happen, we have a plan, but we hope there will not be a need to implement it”. According to the report, the U.S. negotiating team headed by Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and U.S. Special Representative for International Affairs Jason Greenblatt will demand the Palestinian Authority stop paying the salaries of families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed while perpetrating terrorist attacks on Israelis, and that it cease transferring funds to the Gaza Strip while it is under Hamas’ control.

Iran denounces Washington for supporting terrorist groups

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In a news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the U.S. for threatening the security of the region, saying Washington must pay for its wrongdoings. Qassemi’s remarks came days after the head of the MKO, Maryam Rajavi, met with John McCain, a senior U.S. senator who was the Republican nominee for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. “You have stood up, fought, and sacrificed for freedom, for the right to live free, for the right to determine your future”, said McCain, referring to Rajavi. Qassemi further said the meeting came of no surprise to him, since the United States has supported various terrorist groups in recent decades. Once an important political actor inside Iran, the MKO fought the rule of Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, before the Islamic Revolution. However, after the 1979 revolution, it resorted to acts of terror and assassinations, killing thousands of innocent Iranians. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, MKO members were trained in the United States from 2005 to 2009, under former President George W. Bush. Their training included intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics. Following the election of Donald Trump as president, anti-Iran warmonger became much more vocal in U.S. politics, which in turn has empowered the MKO-like groups and individuals who are now calling for “regime change” in Iran.

Egypt: Al-Sisi implementing serious reform programme with IMF

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During his five-day visit to the US, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi held a meeting in Washington on Monday evening with members of the American-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce, headed by its president and CEO, Thomas J. Donohue. Al-Sisi claimed that Egypt is become a safe and stable country. He also recalled the importance of the implementation of IMF (International Monetary Fund) reform to help Egyptian economy to grew up. He noted that Egypt’s programme depends on 4 main axes: monetary policies, which aim at reducing the budget’s deficit and the national debt; fiscal policies, which aim at establishing a flexible exchange rate that attracts investors and also reduces the inflation; social protection through improving the efficiency of a subsidy system and creating a safety net for the poor; and a structural reform, which would fight bureaucracy and corruption.

Economic agenda dominates Al-Sisi’s first day in Washington.

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Economic meetings were at the top of the list of activities on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s first day in Washington. He met with the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, and executive directors of the General Electric (GE) conglomerate. The meeting with the head of the World Bank had been focused on the different challenges that Egypt need to front of to implement its economical reform, meanwhile he also approved his willingness to pursue the cooperation with Egypt. According to the meeting with the GE, Al-Sisi has expressed his willingness to pursue the cooperation between Egypt and US’ companies

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