Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held separate phone talks on Wednesday with his Russian and German counterparts where they discussed regional issues of mutual concern, said the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
In his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and later with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Shoukry focused on the situation in the war-torn Libya and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to statements by Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez.
“Minister Shoukry stressed the necessity of supporting the UN efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution that would restore security and eliminate all aspects of terrorism in Libya,” Hafez said.
Both Egypt and Russia support Khalifa Haftar, head of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), in his conflict against the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by his rival Fayez al-Serraj.
Libya has been locked in a civil war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The situation escalated in 2014, splitting power between two rival governments: the UN-backed GNA based in the capital Tripoli and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk allied with Haftar’s LNA.
The separate phone conversations also addressed efforts to revive the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, urging for a comprehensive and just settlement based on the UN-proposed two-state solution and warning against Israeli plans to further annex occupied Palestinian lands.
They also discussed chances for resuming Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, stressing that any relevant unilateral measures “would push the region towards further complication.”
The Egyptian minister also explained Egypt’s willingness to resume tripartite negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Ethiopia is building on their shared Nile River.
Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating Ethiopia’s grand hydropower dam have been fruitless, amid Egyptian concerns that the GERD construction would affect Egypt’s annual share of Nile water.
United States initiates ‘snapback’ process to reimpose sanctions on Iran – Pompeo
The United States has initiated the so-called snapback process to restore almost all previously lifted UN sanctions against Iran, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday.
“Today, the United States welcomes the return of virtually all previously terminated UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and anti-Semitism,” Pompeo said.
He said the snapback of previously terminated UN sanctions became effective at 8 pm Washington time (0000 GMT).
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected the United States move, saying that the snapback mechanism and reimposed sanctions were invalid.
“This step is not supported by the UN Security Council because the United States is no longer in the nuclear agreement and accordingly no longer plays a role in UN resolution 2231,” Zarif said referring to the resolution in which the UNSC backed the Iran nuclear deal signed in Vienna in 2015.
The move by Washington was merely a “propaganda trick” ahead of the United States election, Zarif said on Iranian state television.
Washington’s plans to reimpose international sanctions on Iran have been met with overwhelming opposition from other countries.
Other members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), including key United States allies who are part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, have rejected Washington’s move and have vowed to ignore it.
Under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran limited its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
“Sanctions are being re-imposed on Iran pursuant to the snapback process under UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2231. On August 20, the United States notified the President of the Security Council of Iran’s significant non-performance of its JCPOA commitments,” Pompeo said in the Saturday statement.
“Virtually all @UN sanctions have returned on Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism.
“This includes a permanent extension of the arms embargo. This is great news for peace in the region!” Pompeo added on Twitter.
He later added that Washington would soon “announce a range of additional measures to strengthen enforcement of @UN sanctions on Iran.”
“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until it stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed,” he said.
United States special representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams had already signalled Washington’s determination to reimpose sanctions on Tehran earlier this week.
The United States launched a formal bid in August to revive the UN sanctions under the “snapback” mechanism included in the Iran deal.
Those sanctions include the indefinite extension of an arms embargo that would otherwise expire in October.
But few countries believe Washington’s move is legal, as United States President Donald Trump unilaterally exited the JCPOA in 2018.
Washington said it would provide more information this weekend and next week on how the United States intended to enforce the global sanctions.
“In the coming days, the United States will announce a range of additional measures to strengthen implementation of UN sanctions and hold violators accountable,” Pompeo said in Saturday’s statement.
“Our maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will continue until Iran reaches a comprehensive agreement with us to rein in its proliferation threats and stops spreading chaos, violence, and bloodshed,” Pompeo asserted.
Trump is likely to address Iran in his speech next week to the UN General Assembly’s largely online meeting of world leaders.
The stand-off between the United States and other member states over the issue threatens a diplomatic crisis at the world body.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
NIDO-Ghana plans webinar to mark Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary
The Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Ghana chapter, said on Saturday that it would organise a webinar as part of events to celebrate Nigeria’s sixtieth independence anniversary.
Mr Elija Iposu, Public Relations Officer of NIDO-Ghana, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria .
Iposu said the event would be organised by NIDO-Ghana in collaboration with a Ghana-based private firm, Diplomats Extra and Milestone Communications.
According to him, the webinar, which will hold on Oct. 2, is a virtual ceremony with Zoom ID: 742450910 and the title: ’60 years of Ghana-Nigeria diplomacy’.
Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, former Director-General Institute of International Affairs, and Amb. Bulus Lolo, former Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria are among high-ranking personalities expected to participate in the event.
Some other expected guests are Mr Oluwaseyi Adeyemi, Publisher, Inside Watch Africa Magazine, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, UN Senior Mediation Advisor, Prof. Baflour Agyeman-Duah, former UN Special Governance Advisor and Affail Monney, President Ghana Journalists Association.
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari on Sept. 16, unveiled the logo and theme for the 60th independence anniversary celebration.
He said that the celebration would be observed for a whole year, to end on Sept. 30, 2021 and would be muted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Nigerians gifted with exceptional confidence, resilience, mental acuity – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigerians are gifted with exceptional attributes of confidence, resilience and mental acuity.
He said that the attributes were best demonstrated in how Nigerians exceled even in other countries in sciences, medicine and politics.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, said the vice president delivered the keynote address at the 111th Founders’ Day Lecture of King’s College, Lagos.
According to Osinbajo, teaching young people Integrity, innovation and hard work is the foundation of a good society.
“Teaching young people that there are huge rewards from creativity, innovation with a culture of integrity in business and personal life, coupled with hardwork and diligence, is the foundation of a good and prosperous society.
“When people are nurtured in the notion that rent-seeking or the prebendal capture of wealth or benefit by access to power is the path to success, then the society will not prosper.
“A few will capture all the resources, everyone else will be poor or on their way there.”
Citing Edward Banfield, American Political Scientist, Osinabjo explained that the exceptional attributes did not free people from the moral basis of a backward society, which was the self-interested, family-centric society where often the public good was sacrificed.
He said that while receiving an education, the mind of a young person must be lifted up beyond self as education must teach the primacy of community, of the good and the well-being of the collective over self.
The Vice President said that the educational design and content must take into account, the current moral and social circumstances, as well as the physical and mental constraints we face as a people.
“There must be, as a rule, a prevailing moral standard, corruption or deviance must be the exception, not the rule.
“Concerns faced at the lower levels of our society; the problems of out-of-school children and the huge deficit in the education of girls,” he said.
For her part, Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who was the guest speaker, commended the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19 through the Economic Sustainability Plan.
Mohammed said that scaling up infrastructure for connectivity will be crucial as well as access to digitalised curricula, digital skills training for teachers and students, and methods to protect privacy.
Other dignitaries at the event included the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who virtually-delivered a goodwill message from President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.–General Babagana Monguno.
The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo and the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido II, among others also featured.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Nigeria, EU envoys meet to resolve access to airspace, travel ban
The Federal Government and envoys of the European Union (EU) on Friday in Abuja met to resolve the issue of access to airspace following the ban on some airlines by the Nigerian government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting is coming after the Federal Government opened its airspace on September 5.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the closed door meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the meeting was at the instance of the EU envoys.
Onyeama said that the meeting also discussed the issue of access to the European space of passengers coming from Nigeria, stating that the Nigerian side was very keen on knowing what exactly applied to Nigerians.
He further said there was obviously some misinformation which made the situation altogether not very clear.
“We understand that this has created some concerns and tensions, so we are here to listen to each other, diplomatically and politely.
“And in a friendly manner to try and see how we can begin to resolve outstanding issues of concern on either side.
“So, what we have asked the European side, to let us have, is the detailed information on Nigerians that can access European space from Nigeria.
“So, which category of Nigerians can in this present time and with the release and restrictions announced by the EU are affected? Who are the people considered on essential travel?
“And what chances does an average Nigerian have to visit a European country from here?
“So, to give us that information so that every Nigerian will be in a position to know whether they can access the European space irrespective of the fact whether they have a visa or no visa.
“There are a lot of Nigerians who have long-term visas, two-year Schengen visa and so forth and clearly, not all of them are able or have to write now as it stand, to enter Europe. So, we want to have that information,”Onyeama stated.
Onyeama also said that the Nigerian side decided and pointed out that just as the EU reviews its policies every two weeks, the Nigerian Government is also doing same and also look into the policies during PTF meetings.
Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, said the availability of flights from Europe to Nigeria was very essential due to the ongoing collaboration between the EU and Nigeria.
Karlsen also said the EU appealed to its partners on the Nigerian side to reconsider the possibility of having again, some of the larger air carriers from Europe, flying with Nigeria.
He added that Nigeria was never picked out, even as he said there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe.
“Nigeria was never picked out, there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe, there was never, as I see it, a retaliation or reciprocity at play here.
“Merely, what Europe has done is exactly the same that Nigeria has done namely, looking at very carefully, what essential groups of people should come in a time of crisis.
“And how can we provide protocols to handle that in terms of testing and isolation, if needed,”Karlsen said.
In his remarks, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said Europe is the strongest partner of Nigeria as far as the aviation sector is concerned.
Sirika said that whatever was done was not targeted at the EU and was subject to review.
NAN reports that in attendance from the Nigerian side were the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State, Health, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora; the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu.
The EU delegation included the Ambassadors of Germany, Netherlands, and France.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Wale Ojetimi