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BEIJING - September 3, 2018 - On the third day of his visit to Beijing, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi took part in a high-level dialogue that brought together Chinese and African leaders and business representatives. The Egyptian leader also participated in the 6th conference of Chinese and African entrepreneurs.

The dialogue and the conference were the two major events that preceded the landmark summit-level Forum of China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) 2018 which Chinese President Xi Jinping opened in Beijing on Monday, hailing the august gathering as an indication that China and Africa have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win co-operation. 

Egypt also lauded the convening of the FOCAC as an auspicious occasion for the Chinese and African sides to move forward along the path of co-operation, interaction and coordination.

Expressing this attitude was Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri who asserted the importance of President Sisi's participation in the FOCAC summit, noting in this context that Egypt which will assume the chairmanship of the African Union in 2019 is set to pay due care to the special ties that bind the community of AU member-states and China.

Egypt, Foreign Minister Shoukri said in press statements he gave in Beijing, will seek during its chairmanship of the pan-African organisation to ensure the continuity of the process of ascertaining the common interests between the Chinese and African sides.

In a keynote address inaugurating the FOCAC, Chinese President Xi praised the big event as evidencing that China and Africa have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win co-operation, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

There is great potential for development in Africa and the continent is full of hope, President Xi said, adding that China-Africa friendship and co-operation have broad vistas, and China and Africa can forge an even stronger comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.

China, President Xi said, values sincerity, friendship and equality in pursuing co-operation. The over 1.3 billion Chinese people have been with the over 1.2 billion African people in pursuing a shared future, he said.

Defining China's policy on ties with Africa, President Xi said his country follows a "five-no" approach to relations with Africa. China's policy, he explained, is based upon no interference in African countries' pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions, no interference in African countries' internal affairs,  no imposition of China's will on African countries, no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa, and no seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing co-operation with Africa.

"No one could undermine the great unity between the Chinese people and the African people," the Chinese leader said.

China pursues common interests and puts friendship first in co-operation. China believes the sure way to boost China-Africa co-operation is for both sides to leverage their respective strengths and for China to complement Africa's development through its own growth, and for both sides to pursue win-win co-operation and common development, Xi said.

 "No one could hold back the Chinese people or the African people as we march toward rejuvenation," President Xi said in his speech at the FOCAC 2018 inaugural ceremony.

China takes a people-oriented approach in pursuing practical co-operation with efficiency. With top priority given to the interests of the Chinese and African peoples, China advances its co-operation with Africa to improve the well-being of Chinese and African peoples and deliver more benefits to them.

"We will fully honour the promises we have made to our African brothers," the Chinese president said. "No one could, out of his imagination or assumption, deny the remarkable achievements made in China-Africa co-operation," he added.

Stressing that China adopts an open and inclusive approach to co-operation, President Xi said that his country stands ready to work with other international partners to support Africa in pursuing peace and development. "No one could stand in the way or obstruct international efforts to support Africa's development," he added.

On the sidelines of the opening of the forum, President Sisi held a meeting with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir during which they discussed enhancing co-operation between the two sides in various fields in the light of distinguished relations binding the two countries.

The meeting also included discussions on the latest political and security developments in South Sudan. During the meeting, FM Shoukri stressed the importance of realising stability and security in South Sudan, asserting Egypt's supporting stance to South Sudan and its people. He also highlighted that Egypt offers all means of assistance and training grants to South Sudanese people in all fields, including education, health, irrigation and agriculture.

The FOCAC is expected to issue two important documents: a final communiqué  in the form of a Beijing Declaration on building stronger community with a shared future between China and Africa and the FOCAC’s Beijing Plan of Action for the years 2019-2021.

China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicated, in a briefing to foreign media representatives in Beijing on August 22, that this year’s summit will also write a new chapter for the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative and the development of Africa.

The Chinese side, Minister Yi said,  is willing to, together with the African side, better combine the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative with the implementation of the Agenda 2063 of the AU, the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the development strategies of various African countries, and actively promote policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds between China and Africa, so as to open up new space and provide new impetus for Africa's development and revitalisation.

The Belt and Road Initiative could significantly reduce costs of doing business for both China and Africa while strengthening ties at the same time, the Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ahunna Eziakonwa, told Xinhua.

The 2018 FOCAC is the third such summit-level forum of the leaders of China and African countries. It was established in the year 2000 as a platform for collective consultation and dialogue on political, economic and socio-cultural co-operation between China and Africa. FOCAC was originally convened at the ministerial level once every three years until the year 2006 when it was elevated to the summit level and held the Beijing meeting with the participation of heads of state and government. Three years ago, the second FOCAC summit convened in Johannesburg. Since its inception 18 years ago, the FOCAC has served as a mechanism for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and has become a forum featuring equality, practicality and efficiency, China’s foreign minister said in the same briefing.

Today, the FOCAC has become a well-known brand of China-Africa co-operation, and also a banner that guides international co-operation with Africa and elevates South-South co-operation, Minister Yi said.

SEOUL, August 17, 2018 (MENA) - South and North Korea have agreed to hold a summit meeting between their leaders in Pyongyang in September, Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.

The agreement has been made during high-level talks on the northern side of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas. They, however, did not unveil the date of the meeting.

"We agreed to hold an inter-Korean summit within September in Pyongyang," the two Koreas said in a joint press statement issued after the meeting.

North Korea's chief delegate, Ri Son-gwon, hinted after the meeting that the two sides agreed on a date but decided not to announce it, only to emphasize that the summit will take place "within September."

SEOUL, August 13, 2018 (Reuters) - North and South Korea agreed on Monday to hold a summit in the North in September, another step towards boosting co-operation between the old rivals, even as doubts grow over efforts to end the North’s nuclear weapons programme.

Officials from both sides meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom, in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, reached an agreement on a September summit between the countries' leaders in the North’s capital of Pyongyang.

No date was announced for what will be the third meeting this year between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

They first met in April in Panmunjom, a remarkable thaw in ties after more than a year of rising tension and fears of war over the North’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

There they agreed that Moon would visit the North’s capital in the autumn, though the pair met again in May in an unannounced meeting at Panmunjom.

No details on an agenda for next month’s talks were announced, but the two Koreas have been discussing a range of issues, from a possible peace declaration to joint economic and infrastructure projects.

The progress between the two Koreas comes as North Korea and the United States are struggling to agree on how to bring about the North’s denuclearisation, after Kim vowed to work towards that goal at a landmark summit in June in Singapore with US President Donald Trump.

US officials have told Reuters that North Korea had yet to agree to a timeline for eliminating its nuclear arsenal or to disclose its size, which US estimates have put at between 30 and 60 warheads.

After Monday’s talks, Ri Son Gwon, the chairman of a North Korean committee aiming for the “peaceful reunification” of the peninsula, told reporters it was important to clear “obstacles” preventing inter-Korean relations from moving forwards.

“If the issues that were raised at the talks aren’t resolved, unexpected problems could emerge and the issues that are already on the schedule may face difficulties,” Ri said, without giving details.

MOSCOW, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday a four-way Syria summit "is planned in the upcoming future", with the leaders of Russia, France, Turkey and Germany attending.

It said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Ankara on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the four-way meeting with his Turkish counterpart.

SEOUL, South Korea , August 10, 2018 (News Wires) - The rival Koreas plan to hold high-level talks on Monday to prepare for a third summit between their leaders, as Pyongyang called on the United States to reciprocate its "goodwill measures" by easing sanctions and stopping demands that the North denuclearize first.

The plans by the Korean leaders to meet come as Washington and Pyongyang try to follow through on nuclear disarmament vows made at a US-North Korea summit in June between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In the most recent sign of growing frustration between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea criticized senior American officials for insisting that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons first before easing sanctions. Notably, the statement didn't directly criticize Trump.

North Korea said in a statement Thursday that "some high-level officials within the US administration" were making "desperate attempts at intensifying the international sanctions and pressure."

"We hoped that these goodwill measures would contribute to breaking down the high barrier of mistrust" between Pyongyang and Washington, the North's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. "However, the US responded to our expectation by inciting international sanctions and pressure."

Those American officials are "going against the intention of President Trump to advance the DPRK-US relations, who is expressing gratitude to our goodwill measures for implementing the DPRK-US joint statement," it said referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Washington has said that sanctions will not be lifted until Pyongyang fully and finally dismantles its nuclear weapons. Some experts say that North Korea does not want to denuclearize first or maybe denuclearize at all because it wants a long, drawn-out process that sees external aid shipped in in return for abandoning nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang has also stepped up its calls for a formal end to the Korean War, which some analysts believe is meant to be the first step in the North's effort to eventually see all 28,500 US troops leave the Korean Peninsula.

A South Korean official at the Unification Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules, said the two Koreas will also discuss on Monday ways to push through tension-reducing agreements made during an earlier summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Among the agreements was holding another inter-Korean summit in the fall in Pyongyang.

 

SEOUL, August 9, 2018 (News Wires) - The two Koreas will hold high-level talks next week to prepare for a third summit between the South's President Moon Jae-in and the North's leader Kim Jong Un, Seoul said on Thursday, as a diplomatic rapprochement takes hold.

Although the South's unification ministry did not elaborate on where the summit would take place, Moon had previously agreed to visit Kim in Pyongyang during the autumn after the two men held a historic meeting in April.

In a statement the ministry said the two sides would hold high-level talks on Monday on the Northern side of the truce village of Panmunjom to "discuss preparatory matters regarding a South-North summit".

The overture came from Pyongyang, the ministry said, which suggested on Thursday the two sides hold talks to "review progress" since the April summit that paved the way for a landmark meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

Cross-border exchanges between the two Koreas have significantly increased since then, with the neighbours planning to resume reunions for war-separated families later this month at the North's Mount Kumgang resort for the first time in three years.

The South Korean delegation at Monday's meeting will be led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, who visited Pyongyang last month to attend a friendly basketball match between the two Koreas, the ministry said.

"We will hold in-depth discussions with the North for a successful South-North summit," the ministry said in a statement.

The summit will mark the third meeting between Moon and Kim this year, after the two leaders held a surprise encounter in May.

But even as ties have improved between the two countries, little progress has been made on the key goal of the North's denuclearisation.

Although Trump has touted his Singapore summit with Kim as a historic breakthrough, the nuclear-armed North has since criticised Washington for its "gangster-like" demands of complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.

Meanwhile the US has urged the international community to maintain tough sanctions on the isolated regime.

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