JERUSALEM: Israel confirmed its first case of monkeypox on Saturday, joining several European and North American countries in detecting the disease endemic to parts of Africa.
A spokesman for Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital said that a 30-year-old man, who recently returned from western Europe with monkeypox symptoms, had tested positive for the virus.
The virus, which causes distinctive pustules but is rarely fatal, is endemic to parts of central and west Africa.
In recent weeks, cases have been detected in Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden as well as in the US, Canada and Australia, raising fears the virus may be spreading.
Symptoms of the rare disease include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets from a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding or towels.
AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council would renew the UN-brokered truce if the UN and its envoy to Yemen gave assurances that the Iran-backed Houthis would fully implement the terms of the truce, including ending their siege on Taiz.
During a meeting in Aden on Wednesday with a number of EU ambassadors to Yemen, Rashad Al-Alimi, the council’s president, said the world, mainly the UN, should mount more pressure on the Houthis to open roads in Taiz, pay government employees in areas under their control, release thousands of detainees and forcibly disappeared civilians from their prisons and not turn civilian facilities into military sites.
The Yemeni leader said the Houthis’ reluctance to lift the siege on Taiz and their continuing violations of the truce show that they are not serious about extending the truce and alleviating the suffering of Yemenis, signaling to effectuate military operations if the Houthis refuse to comply with peace efforts to end the war.
While the council has maintained its wish for peaceful solutions, “it is a council of determination and strength to deter any escalation by the Iran-backed Houthi militia,” Al-Alimi was quoted as telling the EU envoys, according to the official news agency SABA.
The EU ambassadors’ visit to Aden came as international forces exert last-ditch attempts to convince the Houthis and the Yemeni government to extend the truce, which expires on Thursday.
Al-Alimi also met in Aden with the new US Ambassador to Yemen Steven Fagin and US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, who also floated the idea of renewing the truce.
Al-Alimi told the American diplomats that the ball is in the Houthis’ court after his government put into action all of his commitments under the truce, adding that 70 people have been killed by the Houthis since the beginning of the truce.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the Yemeni president to discuss the renewal of the truce, the implementation of all its components and the security situation in Yemen.
SABA reported that Al-Alimi expressed his support for the UN efforts to achieve peace in Yemen and alleviate the suffering of Yemenis, stressing that his government facilitated the resumption of commercial flights from Sanaa and fuel ships to Hodeidah port, even as the Houthis refused to lift the siege on Taiz.
The agency said the UN chief “promised” to push the Houthis into opening roads in Taiz and creating the conditions necessary to reach a deal that would end the war.
In New York, the UN said that Guterres discussed with the council president political and security developments in Yemen, the positive impact of the truce on alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the need to renew and fully implement the truce.
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg on Tuesday discussed with the Houthis and Omani officials extending the truce and opening roads in Taiz.
In a boost to the truce, a Yemenia flight carrying 78 passengers on Wednesday left the Houthi-controlled Sanaa airport to Cairo for the first time in six years, the Houthi media said.
VIENNA: The United States, France, Britain and Germany are pushing for the UN nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors to rebuke Iran for failing to answer longstanding questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites, a draft resolution seen by Reuters showed.
The move is likely to anger Iran, which generally bristles at such resolutions, and that in turn could damage prospects for rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Indirect talks on that between Iran and the United States are already stalled.
Iran, which insists its nuclear program is peaceful while the West says it is moving closer to being able to build a bomb, would respond to any “unconstructive action” taken at next week’s board meeting, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
Western powers had held off submitting a draft resolution to previous quarterly meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board on this issue to avoid derailing talks. But those talks have not been held since March.
The issue has now come to a head since the IAEA told member states this week that Iran had not given it credible answers on the particles found at three mainly old but undeclared sites, although both sides agreed in March to revive discussions aimed at resolving such open issues by now.
The IAEA board “calls upon Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfil its legal obligations and take up immediately the (IAEA) director general’s offer of further engagement to clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues,” the draft text sent to IAEA member states and seen by Reuters on Wednesday said.
The text, dated Tuesday, did not say which countries drafted it. Two diplomats said it was the United States and the so-called E3, namely France, Britain and Germany.
The draft has yet to be formally submitted for the meeting which starts on Monday. Board members could adopt it unopposed or put it to a vote, but the draft is likely to be adjusted before it is submitted.
“We will naturally respond in a strong and appropriate manner to any unconstructive action” by the board, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the ministry’s Telegram channel.
ISTANBUL: Turkey will no longer hold high-level talks with neighboring Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday amid rising tensions between the traditional rivals.
Ankara resumed negotiations with Athens last year following a five-year break to address differences over a range of issues such as mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and rival claims in the Aegean Sea.
“We broke off our high-level strategy council meetings with Greece,” Erdogan told a meeting of his party’s lawmakers in Ankara, adding: “Don’t you learn any lessons from history? Don’t try to dance with Turkey.”
The talks had made little headway, but were a means for the two countries to air out their grievances without resorting to a potential armed standoff as had occurred as recently as two years ago.
Erdogan’s pivot on the talks appeared to have been triggered last week when he signaled his displeasure at comments made by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a trip to the US
Erdogan said Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him after accusing the Greek leader of trying to block Turkey’s acquisition of F-16 fighter planes.
Erdogan also commented on Turkey’s objection to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Ankara has complained the Nordic states harbor terror suspects and arm a group in Syria it accuses of being an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK that has waged a 38-year insurgency inside Turkey.
“NATO is a security organization, not a support organization for terrorist organizations,” he said.
The US and EU have categorized the PKK as a terror group. However, its Syrian wing, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, has played a leading role in the US-led fight against the Daesh group.
Erdogan said those who tried to legitimize the PKK with “letter tricks” were “deceiving themselves, not us.”
The president added that Turkey would not change its stance on the Swedish and Finnish NATO application without seeing “binding documents” demonstrating a hardened approach to those Ankara considers terrorists.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a news conference in Stockholm that she’s looking forward to “further constructive meetings” with Turkey to “sort out any issues or misunderstandings that there might be.”
Sweden has a significant Kurdish diaspora and most of Ankara’s complaints about support for “terrorists” seem directed there. Finland, meanwhile, has a Kurdish-speaking population of around 15,000.
Regarding a new cross-border military operation in Syria, Erdogan said Turkey was “entering a new phase” in its goal to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) buffer zone south of the frontier.
The territory is controlled by a Syrian Kurdish administration and Ankara says it has been used to launch attacks on Turkey.
Erdogan singled out the towns of Tall Rifat and Manbij as targets Turkey will be “clearing of terrorists.” Both lie west of the Euphrates river while the main Kurdish-controlled region is to the east.
CAIRO: Egypt’s military has said it is carrying out joint naval and aerial exercises in Saudi Arabia.
The Red Wave-5 naval training in the Red Sea includes the forces of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Djibouti, Sudan and Yemen.
The Faisal-12 aerial exercises involve the Egyptian and Saudi air forces.