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Homepage > The Spokesperson > Egyptian Press

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 *Regional and International Headlines:

 

Kerry says prospects are good for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Iraqi FM warns of jihadi 'emirate' in Syria

Jordan elected to UN Security Council

U.N.’s Nuclear Inspectors Arrive in Iran

Obama Says He Can Envision Nuclear Deal With Iran

Iran's president: Nuclear deal has helped economy

Obama: Chances for final Iran deal 50-50 or worse

France tries to rewrite its role in Africa

SKorea expands air defense zone after Chinese move

Thai Crisis Deepens as Opposition Quits Parliament

*Regional and International Affairs:

 

Kerry says prospects are good for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Secretary of State John F. Kerry claimed Friday that the prospect of achieving a long-elusive accord between Israelis and Palestinians is mounting, despite widespread skepticism that the talks he fostered are making headway.

“We are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and prosperity and security” that both parties deserve, Kerry said. He also likened the effort to bring peace to the Middle East to the late Nelson Mandela’s long struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

 “It always seems impossible until it is done,” he said.

Kerry, speaking at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, also reassured Israelis that tough sanctions on Iran will remain in place during negotiations to achieve a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes.

 

Iraqi FM warns of jihadi 'emirate' in Syria

Iraq’s top diplomat warned Saturday that the “toxic” proliferation of extremist groups among Syria’s rebels raises the prospect of a jihadist-ruled territory at the heart of the region.

The comments by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reflect Iraq’s fears that the Syrian conflict is imperiling its fragile domestic security, as well as growing international alarm about the risk posed by waves of foreign fighters bolstering the ranks of armed groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Zebari told attendees at a security conference in the small Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain that the increase in radical fighters among the Syrian rebels is leading toward the creation of an ungovernable “Islamic emirate” that the world will have to deal with down the road.

 

Jordan elected to UN Security Council

Jordan has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, filling a seat that Saudi Arabia had declined to accept after an earlier election to protest the world body's failure to end the Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. 

Jordan, endorsed by the African and Asian regional group, was elected yesterday to serve on the Council for two years beginning January 2014. It received 178 "yes" votes in the election in the 193-member General Assembly.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Jordan was "extremely honoured" and "humbled" by the near consensus support from the world community which recognised his country's "relentless efforts in the pursuit of peace and security, the very principles that the Security Council is mandated to preserve."

 

U.N.’s Nuclear Inspectors Arrive in Iran

Atomic experts representing the United Nations nuclear watchdog landed in Tehran on Saturday to inspect a plant recently opened to them, after access was denied for years.

The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency is to inspect the Arak heavy-water production plant on Sunday, after a November agreement between Iran and the agency allowed for expanded monitoring. The plant produces heavy water for a plutonium reactor that has not yet been finished.

Iran has said the Arak plant is for energy production; however, if it became operational it would produce plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.

In the November accord, Iran agreed not to produce fuel for the plant, install additional reactor components there or put the plant into operation.

The state Islamic Republic News Agency confirmed the inspectors’ arrival and said that Iran had provided research data on its new, higher-capacity enrichment centrifuges.

In the November agreement, Iran committed to freezing parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for sanctions relief. The pause is intended to allow negotiators time to produce a more lasting agreement.

 

Obama Says He Can Envision Nuclear Deal With Iran

President Obama said Saturday that he could envision a final diplomatic agreement with Iran that would let the country’s government enrich nuclear material for power production with enough restrictions to assure Israel and the rest of the world that it could not produce a nuclear weapon.

But Mr. Obama said there was no guarantee that such a deal would emerge as Iran and Western nations negotiate during the next six months.

 “I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50-50,” Mr. Obama said during a conversation at a conference run by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, part of the Brookings Institution, in Washington. “But we have to try.”

 

Iran's president: Nuclear deal has helped economy

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that last month's nuclear deal with world powers has already boosted the country's economy, as he continues a push to convince skeptics of the benefits brought by the pact's partial sanctions relief.

Rouhani told an open session of parliament that, after the "success" of the talks, investors were gravitating to businesses and the stock exchange.

"Economic activities have been shifted to the stock exchange from gold, hard currency and real estate," said Rouhani in his televised speech. He gave no specific figures.

Iran's economy has been hit hard by sanctions imposed over its nuclear program. Rouhani has recently stressed the deal's offer of sanctions relief in return for a halt to parts of Iran's uranium enrichment program to challenge criticism from hard-liners who say Iran is giving up too much for too little.

 

Obama: Chances for final Iran deal 50-50 or worse

President Barack Obama said Saturday he believed the chances for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran are 50-50 or worse, yet defended diplomacy as the best way to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons.

During a question-and-answer session with a pro-Israel audience, Obama said he wasn’t naive about the odds for a successful final agreement between world powers and Iran next year, building on the recent six-month interim deal.

“If you ask me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state ... I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50-50,” Obama said. “But we have to try.”

The president’s remark was somewhat startling. Obama has tried to allay the fears of many Israelis and some Americans that his administration last month promised to ease economic pressure too much in return for too few Iranian concessions.

 

France tries to rewrite its role in Africa

France is coming to the rescue again, deploying soldiers in a former African colony to help stave off catastrophe — dirty work that Paris says it doesn’t really want. France has its eyes on a dynamic new Africa that is creating jobs, not conflicts.

But the image of France as the gendarme of Africa is hard to erase.

French troops deployed to deal with the deadly chaos in Central African Republic just as some 40 leaders from Africa, including the Central African Republic’s transitional prime minister, met in Paris on Friday and Saturday.

The summit made progress toward creating a French-trained African rapid reaction force to enable the continent to meet its own security needs — while allowing France to maintain ties to the region that may pay off economically in the longer term.

France’s idea of itself as a one-time colonial master cannot be easily shaken off, in Paris or among former colonies. The French empire unraveled in the 1960s, but a half-century later, African leaders routinely call for help, and the calls don’t often go ignored.

 

SKorea expands air defense zone after Chinese move

South Korea has announced an expansion of its air defence zone followingChina's move to establish a similar zone that has been criticised by Beijing's neighbours.

South Korea earlier requested Chinato redraw its air defence zone because it partly overlaps with South Korea's but Beijing rejected it. The US, Japan and other countries have also protested against the Chinese zone.

Beijing said last month that all aircraft entering the vast area must identify themselves and follow Chinese instructions. US, Japan and South Korea have flown military reconnaissance flights in the area without notifying China in defiance of Beijing's announcement.

 

Thai Crisis Deepens as Opposition Quits Parliament

Thailand's main opposition party resigned from Parliament on Sunday to protest what it called "the illegitimacy" of a government with which it can no longer work. The move deepens the country's latest political crisis one day before new street demonstrations that many fear could turn violent.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told The Associated Press his party could not work in the legislature anymore because the body is "no longer accepted by the people."

The minority Democrats are closely aligned with anti-government protesters who have staged the country's biggest rallies in years. The demonstrations began last month and are aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose democratically elected government came to power in a landslide vote in 2011 that observers said was free and fair.

The Democrats have not won an election since 1992, and some of their leaders appear to have given up on electoral politics because they cannot win. The protesters are demanding a non-elected people's council lead the country instead.

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