The international community decided during a meeting in Addis Ababa on Friday to give a chance to negotiations by sending a high-level mission to Mauritania before deciding on any sanctions against the military rulers, reported the Qatari daily al Watan yesterday. According to the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramdhane Lamamra, the mission will include delegates from the African Union, European Union, United Nations, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League.
"The meeting affirmed the international community's plan for a return to constitutional order in Mauritania and its unity on this basis," said Lamamra. "The participants also affirmed that measures will be proposed in due time at the African Union and the United Nations and there has been talk on convening the Security Council", he added. The international community is urging the military rulers who took over power in Nouakchott to restore constitutional order and release the democratically-elected president, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who was ousted in a coup on August 6, the newspaper noted.
The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, stepped up his criticism against Israel for the first time since taking office for the ongoing blockade imposed by the Jewish state to the Gaza Strip, wrote the Egyptian daily al Ahram. According to a UN spokeswoman, Michelle Montas, Ban Ki Moon expressed his disappointment after Israel refused to respond to a call to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza population. The UN Secretary General is deeply concerned over the closure of the border crossings with Gaza, she said.
He "underscores the importance of having Israel urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza, and regrets that his calls have not yet been heeded", she added. Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warned that the territory was facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the 2000 intifada, while the agency was running out of food and basic supplies. The UNRWA food distribution would probably be suspended if supplies were not allowed into the Strip, added the newspaper.
The Somali deputy prime minister, Ahmed Abdulsalam, denied any relation with the pirates who hijacked a Saudi supertanker and rerouted it into Somali waters, reported the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat yesterday. Talking to the Saudi-owned newspaper, Mr Abdulsalam, who is also Minister of Information, said he did not know any of the hijackers and could not have any relation with them.
"They might be from my tribe, but it's a big tribe, scattered all over the country," he explained. He also indicated that his government did not know the identity of the pirates or their tribal affiliation, adding that the Somali authorities had no information that could be of any help. The Somali government is opposed to the targeting of ships and tankers in the territorial or international waters and rejects any action that hinders the freedom of navigation and puts the lives of innocent civilians at stake, he said. "Our position is known to all? we are against such condemnable activities and we urge the international community to collaborate seriously and honestly with us to put an end to this phenomenon."
The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, together with Islamic Jihad and the Popular and Democratic Fronts, have agreed to an Israeli proposal transmitted by the Egyptians to maintain the truce if the border crossings to Gaza are opened, reported the independent Arabic daily al Hayat on Sunday.
According to Palestinian sources contacted by the London-based newspaper, indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, brokered by Egypt during the last two days, led to a commitment to the truce by Palestinian factions, which reserved the right to respond to any Israeli violations. The same sources said that an emergency meeting was called by Hamas at midnight on Friday with the other factions to discuss the Israeli proposal, which offered a 24-hour trial period after which the Jewish state would open the border crossing with the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and the factions accepted the offer and transmitted their reply to Egypt, which in turn transmitted it to Israel. * Digest compiled by Mohammed Naji email@example.com