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‘We’re not in crisis’: New Saudi foreign minister takes the reins

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Ibrahim al Assaf

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister struck a note of defiance Friday in the face of international outrage over critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, denying the kingdom was in crisis and that his predecessor had been demoted.

Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former veteran finance minister who was briefly detained last year in what Riyadh said was an anti-corruption sweep, replaced Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister in a major government shake-up on Thursday ordered by King Salman.

The surprise reshuffle was seen partly as an attempt to elevate the kingdom’s marginalised old guard, adding a veneer of checks and balances to the policy decisions of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who faces intense global scrutiny over the October 2 murder of journalist Khashoggi.

But while talking to a foreign journalist, in his first interview since his appointment, Assaf insisted the restructuring was motivated not by the Khashoggi affair, but the need to make the government machinery more efficient.

“The issue of Jamal Khashoggi… really saddened us, all of us,” Assaf told media at his residence in Riyadh, adorned with mahogany furniture, a wall-mounted elephant tusk and other hunting trophies.

“But all in all, we are not going through a crisis, we are going through a transformation,” he added, referring to social and economic reforms spearheaded by the crown prince.

 

 

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Asia

Bears growl at Hong Kong bourse

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Bearish bourse

HONG KONG: Shares fell more than one percent Tuesday, hit by concerns over rising  Iran-US tensions and as investors await this week’s crucial trade talks between  Donald Trump and Xi Jinping.
The Hang Seng Index sank 1.15 percent, or 327.02 points, to 28,185.98. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.87 percent or 26.07 points,
to 2,982.07, while the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, lost 0.99 percent, or 15.63 points, to 1,560.46.

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Pakistan

Pak role in Afghan peace process lauded by SG of NATO

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NATO

BRUSSELS: Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting with Pakistani FM Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi has noted that Pakistan had played a positive role in regional peace. 

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO wanted to work with Pakistan on bilateral understanding. 

GS NATO and FM Pakistan profoundly discussed security matters being faced by Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir. 

Relevant pieces published earlier: 

Pak Foreign Minister arrives in Brussels

BRUSSELS: Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister (FM) of Pakistan, has arrived here today on a two-day official visit. 

Here he will be signing a comprehensive strategic plan with EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. He will also meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at its headquarters in Brussels.

Strategic plan agreed with EU: FM Qureshi

ISLAMABAD: FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi has informed that a strategic plan had been agreed with the European Union (EU).

FM said this while talking to the journalists here today before leaving for Brussels. FM further told that he would sign this agreement with EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. Terming it a positive development Qureshi said it would begin long-term cooperation with the EU. 

Qureshi, who is scheduled to meet NATO General Secretary at its headquarters in Brussels, said Pakistan had been cooperating with NATO and extended unprecedented help to US and NATO forces in matters pertaining to Afghanistan.  FM reiterated that Pakistan had played a key role in the war against terrorism and NATO had acknowledged that fact.  

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Education

Krish Das discusses Master of Sc. in Journalism program (VIDEO AND TEXT)

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COFFEE WITH KRISH USA

KARACHI: Krish Das, the US Consulate General’s spokesman here, and Dr. Larry Pintak, founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and member of the advisory board of the Center of Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) discuss the CEJ and its various programs including the Master of Science in Journalism.  

 

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