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Egyptian MPs unite to condemn North Sinai terrorist attack, call for aid to victims


Today an urgent plenary session was held in Cairo, where the members of the parliament have denounced the terror attack on Al-Rawdah mosque of Al-Arish, in North Sinai. The speaker of Egyptian parliament, Ali Abdel-Aal, said that the government will accelerate the process to financially compensate the families of the 305 victims. He added that terrorists know no discrimination among religions and he highlighted the importance of being united in the fight against terrorism. For this reason, according to him: “ordinary citizens themselves can help in preventing terrorists from targeting mosques and churches by cooperating with police and army forces”. Furthermore several members of the parliament, especially those affiliated with North Sinai, asked for a meeting with the Minister of Defence Sobhi. They also asked for a parliamentary delegation to visit the Al-Rawdah mosque showing solidarity with citizens of Al-Arish.

 Body found on Japanese island believed to be North Korean man


Japan’s coastguard found the body of a male and parts of a wooden boat suspected to be from North Korea on the coast of one of Japan’s outlying islands on Saturday, an official said. The coastguard made the discovery around 6.30am on Saturday on Sado island, which is off the coast of Japan’s northwestern prefecture of Niigata, a coastguard official said, declining to give his name. The guard also found a pack of cigarettes written in Korean and other personal belongings with Korean written on them near the body, the official said. Last week, the coastguard rescued three North Korean men on a capsized boat in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, who said they were fishermen and were later sent home on a North Korean vessel. A North Korean soldier dramatically defected to South Korea last week after being shot and wounded by his country’s military as he dashed across the heavily guarded demilitarised zone between the two countries.

 Kosovo war crimes court ready for first indictments: chief judge


A special court with international prosecutors and judges set up to tackle alleged war crimes by ethnic Albanians against Serbs during Kosovo’s 1998-99 war is ready to proceed with its first indictments, its president said in an interview with Reuters. The court, which could indict or call as witnesses current officials in Pristina’s government, will function under Kosovo law but operate in the Netherlands to minimize the risk of witness intimidation and judicial corruption in Kosovo.The Kosovo Specialist Chamber was set up in The Hague following U.S. and European Union pressure on the Kosovo government to confront allegations of atrocities against ethnic Serbs by Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas.The KLA rose up against then-Serbian strongman President Slobodan Milosevic, eventually winning crucial NATO air support that halted the killing and expulsion of Kosovo Albanian civilians in a brutal counter-insurgency campaign. The now-disbanded KLA, which counts among its former ranks much of Kosovo’s current political elite, has been dogged for years by allegations that it sold organs removed from murdered Serb prisoners on the black market.Local media and analysts speculated that some of Kosovo’s top officials who held commanding positions within the KLA could face indictments or be called as witnesses.A 2011 report for the Council of Europe linked leading Kosovo figures – notably President Hashim Thaci – to gruesome crimes against Serbs, including trade in organs harvested from prisoners of war. Thaci has denied any wrongdoing.

 Multilateralism can foil US hostility against independent states


During the fourth Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Bolivia, in separate meetings with presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Equatorial Guinea as well as foreign minister of Libya, Iran’s First Vice-President Es’hagh Jahangiri emphasized the significance of “multilateral” and inclusive cooperation, underlining how it could be an effective mechanism in order to nullify the US hostile policies. Jahangiri also declared that Iran is ready to share experiences and knowledge in the fields of technology, nanotechnology, industry, science, and energy with the mentioned countries. For their parts, these countries demanded the development of relations with Iran in different fields of mutual interest. The President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, thanked Iran for its support of his country’s hosting of the fifth GECF meeting in 2018 and also the Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for its efforts in establishing peace and stability in the region and its support to Venezuela, highlighting how the US policies against his country have failed in their results.

 Macedonia needs stronger fiscal consolidation


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday that the formation of the new government is a turning point for the Macedonian economy, and underscored this as an opportunity to rebuild policy space and revive reforms.Macedonia needs stronger fiscal consolidation due to rapid rise in public debt and high gross financing needs. On the fiscal front, the overall deficit narrowed to 2.6% in 2016, with the improvement largely due to under-execution of capital investment, spending constraints imposed during the pre-election period, and accumulation of payment arrears, the IMF said in its concluding statement on Article IV consultation with Macedonia on the country’s economic performance and policies.The IMF expects Macedonia to close 2017 with fiscal deficit equivalent to around 3% of GDP, while public debt is projected to rise to 47% of GDP, according to the statement. “[IMF] Directors welcomed the authorities’ intention to reduce the overall deficit gradually to 2% of GDP in the medium term, but stressed that this should rely on durable measures”.

 Serbia says Guinea-Bissau revoked recognition of Kosovo


Guinea-Bissau has withdrawn its decision from 2011 to recognize Kosovo’s independence, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has claimed. “The prime minister of Guinea-Bissau informed me of this today”, Dacic told
Belgrade media on Tuesday.He added that the African country also sent a note to Pristina informing them of the revocation. Dacic explained that Guinea-Bissau in this way officially annulled a letter, and recognition contained in that letter, sent in 2011, which Pristina was manipulating with. Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who has been in office since November 2016, spoke in Belgrade last week to say that his country never recognized Kosovo – that is, that he “did not see any paper on the recognition of Kosovo”. The first state to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo was Suriname, which made the decision on October 27, 2017. Recently, the media in Kosovo also reported that Pristina updated the list of countries that have recognized it to remove Nigeria and Uganda from it, because these countries’ notes of recognition were “never received”.

 Iran ready for any US Congress scenario


TEHRAN – On Tuesday, Kamalvandi, the Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), who also serves as the Deputy Head of the AEOI for International, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, declared at the Iran-EU’s Second High Level Seminar on International Nuclear Cooperation: Progress and Prospect that “US congress moves are meticulously monitored by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and the AEOI devises the necessary predictions according to its responsibilities”. Kamalvandi stressed the need for the international community to protect the JCPOA, saying that Iran will keep honoring the deal as long as the other parties comply with the obligations in the text and spirit of the nuclear accord. Mr. Kamalvandi highlighted that since the first seminar was held in early 2017 in Brussels, “great results” have been achieved and “good cooperation” has been brokered in four or five areas among nuclear safety, IAEA safeguards, security issues, stable isotopes, nuclear medicine. He also held that the new policies would push US into isolation and articulated that “while the International Atomic Energy Organization has verified and attested Iran’s abidance by the nuclear deal 9 times so far, Iran’s perseverance in complying with the deal is hinged upon other sides’ compliance”, as Mr. Kamalvandi said. “The meeting of today which featured participants from EU, China, and Russia had a good implication that cooperation within the framework of JCPOA is on and the other signatory of the deal should act more wisely”, as Mr. Kamalvandi specified.

Albanian-Macedonian Ties, Existential


The President of the Republic, Ilir Meta is paying an official visit to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, at the invitation of his counterpart, Gjorge Ivanov. The two Presidents held a meeting, followed by a meeting between the delegations. Meta praised close historical and cultural ties, and underlined that they are existential and defining. President Ilir Meta was received in a separate meeting by the Prime Minister of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev. Mea congratulated the PM on the positive resùlts of both electoral processes in Macedonia and hailed the concrete engagements of the new government to improve the climate and inter-ethnic relations, but also to create a positive relation with neighboring countries. Meta and Zaev shared the same view on the indispensability to increase economic and trade cooperation, and to enhance energy and infrastrùctùral ties, where the implementation of joint projects in the frame of Corridor 8 is very important. In this frame, President Meta underscored that extraordinary resùlts can be achieved with non-extraordinary investments. The interlocutors expressed confidence that in the upcoming meeting between the two governments, in Pogradec, all these issues regarding comprehensive promotion and development between the two countries will be addressed.

 Yemeni vice president warns against Houthi backstabbing


The Yemeni Vice President General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar has reaffirmed that the “Houthi party represents Iran’s claws in Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula and the region”. Ahmar also said that Yemenis cannot target Mekkah or Riyadh “the nation’s cradle”. The general made this statement during his visit with the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Ma’rib the Nahem front east of Sanaa. Meanwhile, the vice president noted that all areas bordering Sanaa were not a platform for the Houthis and will never be. At this point Ahmar called on the tribe members of these areas to actively participate in the “liberation battle”. Also, Ahmar directed a message to the children of Sanaa, the free members of the armed forces, the General People’s Congress (headed by ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh) and all political and social elements. In his message, Ahmar demanded these sides to “be warned and remain alert from the Houthi’s backstabbing” whom he said, “does not exclude any one and targets houses, camps, schools and places of worship”.

 Trump declares North Korea state sponsor of terrorism, triggers sanctions


President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism on Monday, a designation that allows the United States to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. The Republican president,  said the Treasury Department will announce additional sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday. “In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil”, Trump told reporters at the White House. “This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime”,  Trump, who has often criticized his predecessors’ policies toward Pyongyang, said the designation should have been made “a long time ago”.

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