Saudi FM: We will consider Qatar’s response carefully before taking stances

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JEDDAH: The standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbors would best be solved by an agreement across the region to prevent the financing of “terrorism,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Monday.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said he told Gabriel that the measures taken by the four countries were aimed at pressuring Qatar to change policies that have harmed its neighbors and the world.
“We look forward to receiving Qatar’s response to the demands in order to study it thoroughly before taking stances,” Al-Jubeir said.
“The aim of the measures taken against Qatar is to change its policies that harm it, the countries of the region and other nations of the world,” Al-Jubeir told a press conference alongside Gabriel in Jeddah.
Gabriel said he did not have the impression the four countries were questioning Qatar’s sovereignty.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have agreed to grant Qatar an additional 48 hours to comply with a list of demands they submitted last month.
The extension by the four countries, which have severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed economic sanctions over its regional policies, came at the request of Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
As the original deadline of July 3 loomed, Kuwait, the US and Russia appeared to intensify efforts to resolve the crisis.
The Saudi, Emirati, Egyptian and Bahraini foreign ministers have agreed to meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has reportedly delivered his country’s official response to Sheikh Sabah during a short visit to Kuwait.
The White House on Sunday said US President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi King Salman, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Trump “reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology,” the White House said in a statement.
He “also underscored that unity in the region is critical to accomplishing the Riyadh Summit’s goals of defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability.”
Trump and King Salman exchanged views on US-Saudi efforts against terrorism, its sources of financing and countries that support terrorist groups, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.
Trump later tweeted: “Spoke yesterday with the King of Saudi Arabia about peace in the Middle-East. Interesting things are happening!”


Source  :  Arab News

Fee-payment system glitches prevent travel of some foreign residents

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JEDDAH: Glitches in the electronic system to collect payment of the newly imposed fees on foreign residents’ family members caused many to miss flights over the past two days.
A local newspaper spoke with a number of Sudanese residents trying to pay their exit visa fees at the airport Sunday afternoon. Abdulrahman Abbas missed his flight despite the fact he had received a boarding pass.
Another passenger, Abdulhameed Al-Warai, said he tried to pay the fees several times but the system refused to recognize it, and consequently would not issue an exit-and-return visa. “Then I went to the airport where Passports Department personnel tried to solve the problem, but they could not document my payment in the system no matter how hard they tried. Eventually I could not travel,” he said.
Khaled Mahjoub reported that he tried to pay online several times and the messages that popped up on the screen said, “the service is under maintenance” and then, “the service is not available.”


Source  :  Arab News

Abe, LDP scramble to control damage from Tokyo election loss

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s scandal-laden ruling party scrambled Monday to control damage from an embarrassing defeat in Tokyo municipal elections, but experts said the stunning result could mean the beginning of the end to Abe’s long reign.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party suffered a thumping loss in the assembly elections Sunday, taking a beating for recent scandals and a high-handed approach in achieving policies, while maverick Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike’s new party surged to victory on her reformist image.

Koike’s party and its allies secured a comfortable majority, winning a total of 79 of the assembly’s 127 seats. But the city branch of Abe’s LDP won just 23 seats, its worst-ever showing in the assembly, and down from its pre-election share of 57 seats.

Experts said voters had sent a message to Abe and his party for their perceived arrogance.

“The results were a punishment by voters who were frustrated by the recent development in the LDP,” said Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Whether Abe can stay on and achieve his long-cherished revision to Japan’s war-renouncing constitution hinges on his “damage control,” Watanabe said.

Sunday’s vote was closely monitored because previous Tokyo assembly elections have set the tone for subsequent national polls. The 2009 assembly election, in which the LDP won just 38 seats, was followed later that year by the party’s defeat in a national election that forced it from power.

Still, Abe’s tenure as prime minister is not under immediate threat. The LDP still has a dominant place nationally in the absence of center-left alternatives, and Abe has few political rivals within his party.

But he’ll be forced to stop railroading policies and stonewalling demands to clarify scandals involving him and his aides, and his plan to be re-elected for a third term next year is now uncertain.

In a major ongoing scandal, Abe is alleged to have helped a friend gain government approval for his new veterinary school.

Abe could reshuffle his Cabinet to remove unpopular faces such as Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, who recently was grilled over her remark at an election rally in which she asked for support from her ministry and the Self-Defense Force, allegedly violating laws stipulating neutrality of civil servants and the military.

Jeff Kingston, Asian studies and history professor at Temple University, Japan Campus, said Abe might need more than a Cabinet reshuffle to bounce back. “I think it will be hard for him to rebound and his popularity will continue to decline,” he said. “Up until now, he’s been a Teflon premier — all the scandals just sort of wash off and everybody forgets. But this was a bloody blow.”

Abe had long enjoyed stable approval ratings since returning to power in 2012 and was hoping to be re-elected in September 2018 for a third term so he could continue to work on the constitution revision, a key agenda item that has unified his right-wing supporters.

Abe said Sunday’s election defeat was a wake-up call for his party.

“We must take it seriously and do our utmost by reminding ourselves of our aspirations when we returned to power (in 2012),” he said Monday.

Koichi Nakano, an international politics professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, said members of Abe’s party may start gauging whether having Abe as prime minister is a benefit or a liability.

“Abe cannot expect lasting, comfortable support within the party … especially after such an election loss,” Nakano said. “Seems to me it’s the beginning of the end of Abe’s rule.”

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source  :  Japan Today

Record number of women in Tokyo assembly raises hope for political change

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A record 36 women won seats in Sunday’s Tokyo metropolitan assembly election, raising hopes that they may help change Japan’s male-dominated political world.

Women now comprise some 30 percent of the 127-member Tokyo assembly, up from 25 seats or about 20 percent before the election, which was contested by 259 candidates including a record 65 women. The ratio is higher than the 9.9 percent average of prefectural assemblies across Japan as of late last year.

Reina Saito, a 38-year-old singer and mother of two children, secured a seat running for a new party, led by Tokyo’s first female governor Yuriko Koike, which scored a major victory in the race.

“I want to work hard on child-rearing support and measures against child abuse for the younger generation,” Saito said Monday morning during a stump speech in the city of Tama that forms part of the Minamitama constituency. She bowed her head as a passerby congratulated her on her victory.

Saito, known by the stage name “lecca,” has had a 10-year career in music including a solo concert at the renowned Nippon Budokan hall in 2012. While she believed in the power of music to influence society, she came to see politics as an effective means of bringing about change.

“We need the power of politics,” she said in explaining why she decided to run for an assembly seat.

During election campaigning, Saito spoke of the need to address gaps in preschool childcare costs, generated because many parents cannot secure places for their children at day-care centers certified by public authorities and are forced to leave them at uncertified facilities. Fees are set lower at certified centers.

Japan faces a lack of day-care facilities especially in urban areas such as the greater Tokyo region as a growing number of women are entering the workforce.

Ayumi Saigo, 32, who also belongs to Koike’s party Tomin First No Kai (Tokyo Citizens First Party) was elected from the Chuo Ward constituency. She has drawn attention for being four months pregnant while running in the election.

Although Saigo sometimes did not feel well and could not make a speech in a desirable manner, she managed to ride out the nine-day campaign with the support of staff.

Saigo also said she felt the kindness of voters as some asked her if she was doing fine and cheered her up.

The newly elected assemblywoman plans to take maternity leave for a while and admitted that some are critical about her doing so. But she said, “The assembly must offer role models and lead discussions to create a society where women can work comfortably.”

Mariko Saito, a 42-year-old Japanese Communist Party member who won a seat in the Adachi Ward constituency, said on her website that she was initially motivated to stand up to change politics when she failed to secure a spot at a day-care center for her son and found out more than 1,000 other children were similarly on a waiting list in the ward.

“This problem is not just about increasing the number of day-care centers. We must ensure quality (of childcare services) as well,” said Saito, whose son is now 6 years old.

She also recalled that she was impressed when she was told by her boss at a foreign-affiliated company where she formerly worked, “We do not discriminate against women based on their age or marital status.”

Noting that the majority of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly members are still male, Saito said, “I hope I can change this assembly into one that listens more to the voices of the citizens.”


Source  :  Japan Today

China’s Taiwan affairs chief, Taipei mayor want better cross-Strait ties

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By Ji Xin (CNTV)    08:44, July 04, 2017

(Photo by CGTN)

The Chinese mainland’s Taiwan affairs chief, Zhang Zhijun, met with Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je in Shanghai on Monday, where Ko was leading a delegation to attend an annual forum.

Zhang said Chinese mainland welcomes any parties, groups or individuals from Taiwan as long as they have the right understanding of the nature of cross-Strait relations and are willing to promote the peaceful development of ties. Ko said Taiwan and the mainland, with the same culture and origin, should strengthen exchanges and cooperation for the benefit of the people.


Source  :  CNTV

Man accused of kidnapping Chinese student appears in court

(Xinhua)    08:38, July 04, 2017

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Brendt Christensen. /Southern Metropolis Daily Photo

US Magistrate Judge Eric Long on Monday ordered the man accused of kidnapping a visiting Chinese scholar to be held without bond until his next court hearing on July 5.

Brendt Christensen, 28, charged with kidnapping Zhang Yingying on June 9, did not speak during a hearing at a federal courthouse in Urbana, Illinois.

If convicted of the federal kidnapping charge, Christensen potentially faces life in prison, according to Sharon Paul, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office.

Christensen was enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in experimental condensed matter physics by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), but it was not clear if he was still studying at the university when he was arrested on Friday.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Christensen did not speak during the hearing that lasted nine minutes, other than to acknowledge that he understood his rights, according to local media ABC7.

Judge Long asked Christensen’s attorney, Evan Bruno of the Urbana-based Bruno Law Firm, whether he was ready to take a stand on bail. When Bruno asked for a few days, Long set a detention hearing for 3 p.m. Wednesday, during which bond conditions will be determined.

(This undated photo provided by the University of Illinois Police Department shows Zhang Yingying. /University of Illinois Police Department Photo via AP)

Christensen will be held in the custody of the US Marshals Service before the detention hearing.

A preliminary hearing was set for 10 a.m. local time on July 14. It would be waived if a grand jury returns an indictment before then.

About 45 people packed the courtroom, with hundreds of Chinese from Zhang’s university and the local Chinese community gathering in the courthouse lobby and outside across the street.

They held posters written “Bring Justice to Yingying and her family,” chanting “Justice for Yingying.”

Zhang Yingying’s father breaks down during an interview with Illinois local media. /Screenshot of The News-Gazette interview

Zhang, 26, went missing on June 9 after she got into a black Saturn Astra car about five blocks from where she got off a bus as she was heading to an apartment complex to sign a lease. Police believe Zhang, who arrived at the University of Illinois in late April, is no longer alive.

FBI and local policemen arrested Christensen last Friday evening based on the fact the suspect called someone about his kidnapping of Zhang.

“While Christensen was under law enforcement surveillance, agents overheard him explaining that he kidnapped Zhang,” an FBI press release said.

Source  :  Xinhua

Qatar’s response to demands delivered

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04 Jul 2017 – 1:54

Qatar's response to demands delivered

Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s letter to Emir of Kuwait H H Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah was handed yesterday by Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

QNA & Agencies

Kuwait:  Emir of Kuwait H H Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah met with Qatar’s  Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at Bayan Palace.
Foreign Minister conveyed the greetings of the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to the Emir of Kuwait as well as his wishes of more progress and prosperity to the Kuwaiti people.
The Emir of Kuwait entrusted the Foreign Minister to convey his greetings to the Emir, wishing him good health and happiness and Qatari people further progress and prosperity.
The Foreign Minister handed the Kuwait Emir the reply, which was prepared earlier by Qatar on a list of collective demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies submitted through the State of Kuwait last month.
Adviser to the Emir on Investment Affairs, H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, attended the meeting.  From the Kuwaiti side, the meeting was attended by Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah,  Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah, and a number of sheikhs and senior officials. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had announced in the early hours of yesterday  they were pushing back a deadline to another 48 hours for Qatar to agree to a list of 13 demands they issued on June 22. A joint statement said they were extending the ultimatum, which had been due to expire at the end of the day on Sunday, at the request of Kuwait’s Emir.

Sheikh Mohammad elaborated on the outcomes of his recent tour to the US, UK, France and Germany whose officials appreciated the Emir’s efforts to defuse inter-Gulf tensions and to promote effective dialogue within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).


Source  :  The Peninsula

Q-Post issues special seal

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04 Jul 2017 – 2:12

Q-Post issues special seal

The Peninsula

Qatar Post (Q-Post) yesterday issued a special seal offering the words “Tamim Al Majd” (Tamim is glory) to mark solidarity and unity of the nation with the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

This seal will be used on all correspondence, letters, parcels etc.

Last month, Q-Post had issued  ‘Tamim Al Majd’ postage stamps, featuring picture of the Emir.


Source  : The Peninsula