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NEW YORK, Sept 24, 2018 (MENA) - President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is scheduled to meet later on Monday with his US counterpart Donald Trump, presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said.

The two presidents will discuss a number of important issues in the Middle East region.

The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the ongoing 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

 

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump said Monday he expected to meet again soon with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he saw "tremendous progress" in easing tensions.

"It looks like we'll have a second summit quite soon," Trump told reporters at the United Nations.

"As you know Kim Jong Un wrote a letter -- a beautiful letter -- asking for a second meeting and we will be doing that," added Trump, who met with Kim in Singapore in June.

He said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- whose last planned visit to Pyongyang was abruptly scuttled by the White House -- would arrange the summit "in the immediate future."

Trump's remarks come one year after he stunned the United Nations General Assembly with a blistering attack on North Korea in his speech, threatening to "totally destroy" the communist state and mocking the projectile-building Kim as "rocket man."

But Trump has since billed his diplomacy with North Korea as a key diplomatic success, saying that risks of a conflict have receded.

"Tremendous progress on North Korea," Trump told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.

"That was a very dangerous time. This is one year later, a much different time."

 

 

United Nations (United States), September 24, 2018 (News Wires) - Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Sunday his government wants a "civilised" relationship with the United States -- despite the embargo imposed on the island by the US since 1962.

Speaking to the Cuban state press upon his arrival in New York for the UN General Assembly, Diaz-Canel said he would use his speech at the annual gathering to denounce the commercial, economic, and financial embargo "which has already failed and will continue to fail."

Of Cuban-US relations, he added Havana seeks "a civilised relationship despite ideological differences."

However, he said the government of US President Donald Trump is "an administration with which it is difficult to form an equal relationship."

The General Assembly marks Diaz-Canel's debut on the world stage, after he took office on April 19, succeeding brothers Fidel and Raul Castro.

His address is scheduled for September 26 -- 58 years to the day since Fidel Castro's first speech there.

In a month, the Assembly will vote on a resolution calling for an end to the embargo. The issue has been voted upon annually for over two decades, and has majority support.

Despite its well-known position in favour of the embargo, the US abstained in 2016 after former president Barack Obama and Raul Castro restored diplomatic relations after over 50 years of tension.

But after Trump entered office, Washington reported several US diplomats and their relatives in Havana had suffered mysterious symptoms as a result of alleged "acoustic attacks" in late 2016 -- an accusation Cuba denies.

As a result, the US recalled more than half of its staff from its Havana embassy and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington.

LONDON, September 24, 2018 (Reuters) - The deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned US and Israeli leaders on Monday to expect a “devastating” response from Tehran, accusing them of involvement in an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz.

“You have seen our revenge before ... You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done,” Hossein Salami said in a speech before the funeral of the victims broadcast live on the state television.

Thousands of people packed the streets of the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz to mourn the victims of Saturday’s assault that killed 25 people, including 12 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Many chanted “death to Israel and America”.

The coffins, wrapped in the flag of the Islamic Republic, were carried by the mourners. Many held pictures of a four year old boy killed in the attack, one of the worst against the most powerful military force of the Islamic Republic.

Four assailants fired on a viewing stand in Ahvaz where Iranian officials had gathered to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic’s 1980-88 war with Iraq.

Soldiers crawled on the street to avoid bullets. Women and children fled for their lives.

Top Iranian leaders also blamed the United State’s Gulf Arab allies for the bloodshed that struck a blow at the heart of its security establishment.

The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and Washington, rejected Iranian allegations alluding to its involvement in the violence.

Speaking at the funeral ceremony, Defence Minister Amir Hatami warned the “terrorists” to expect the revenge of the Iranian nation.

The intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, said a large network of suspects had already been arrested in connection with the attack, the judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported.. He did not elaborate.

Islamic State’s Amaq agency posted a video of three men in a vehicle who it said were on their way to carry out the attack.

A man wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with what appears to be a Revolutionary Guard logo discussed the impending attack in Farsi in the video.

“We are Muslims, they are kafirs (non-believers),” the man says. He adds: “We will destroy them with a strong and guerrilla-style attack, inshallah (God willing).”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was set up after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system and revolutionary values.

It answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The IRGC has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units.

The violence has led to a boost in support for the Guards, according to analysts, which they will likely use to silence their critics, who include pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani.

He engineered Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that ushered in a cautious detente with Washington before tensions flared anew with President Donald Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Ahvaz National Resistance, an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, also claimed responsibility.

Senior commanders of the IRGC have said the Ahvaz attack was carried out by militants trained by Gulf states and Israel, and backed by America.

But it is unlikely the IRGC will strike any of these foes directly.

The Guards could put on a show of strength by firing missiles at opposition groups operating in Iraq or Syria that may be linked to the militants who staged the attack.

Iran’s Ground Force General Nozar Nemati was quoted as saying by Mizan news agency that “the agents behind this attack are identified and will be published at the appropriate time.”

KABUL, Sept 23, 2018 (MENA) - The US government pledged a fresh aid package of $44 million to assist the drought-affected families in Afghanistan.

US Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass announced the new US aid package to Afghanistan as he was speaking during a press conference in Kabul, Khaama Press News Agency reported on Sunday.

Durani said the new US aid package would help the government assist nearly 1.4 million drought-affected people.

Durani further added that the funds would be utilized to assist with the provision of food and other first aid packages to the families.

DUBAI, September 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of being a "bully" that wants to create insecurity in the Islamic Republic, a day after an attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, including 12 members of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Speaking before leaving Tehran to attend the UN General Assembly in New York, Rouhani accused US-backed Gulf Arab states of providing financial and military support for anti-government ethnic Arab groups.

The attack was one of the worst ever against the Guards - the most powerful military force in the country - and is bound to ratchet up tensions with Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia.

"Iran's answer (to this attack) is forthcoming within the framework of law and our national interests," said Rouhani, adding that the United States will regret its "aggressiveness".

An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed responsibility for the attack.

"The Persian Gulf states are providing monetary, military and political support for these groups," said Rouhani.

Islamic State militants also claimed responsibility. Neither claim provided evidence. All four attackers were killed.

The assault, which wounded at least 70 people, targeted a viewing stand where Iranian officials had gathered in the city of Ahvaz to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq, state television said.

"Hopefully we will overcome these sanctions with the least possible costs and make America regret its aggressiveness towards other countries, and particularly Iran," said Rouhani.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) has been the sword and shield of Shi'ite clerical rule in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Hardliners such as the Republican Guards have gained standing at the expense of pragmatists in Iran's multi-tiered leadership since President Donald Trump decided in May to pull the United States out of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran and re-impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

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