In a distinguished gathering on Wednesday, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati received a joint delegation from “Al Riyadi” Basketball Club, the Lebanese champions, and “Hekmeh” Club. The meeting was attended by Minister of Youth and Sports, George Kallas, Hekmeh’s honorary president MP Jihad Pakradouni, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Judge Mahmoud Makkieh, along with members of the administrative bodies of both clubs, led by Mazen Tabbara for Al Riyadi and Ragheb Haddad for Hekmeh.

Prime Minister Mikati commenced the meeting by welcoming the team members and emphasized the significance of basketball.

‘Basketball has become immensely important, gaining prominence in Lebanon, regionally, and internationally. The successes achieved are a source of pride for us all. To me, Al Riyadi and Hekmeh are indistinguishable, and ultimately, everyone has demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship. Our goal is to showcase the best and the finest through this competition,’ Mikati said.

‘We take pride in your accomplishments and encourage you to continue. The most crucial aspect for us is to conclude the game in the spirit of sportsmanship, regardless of the winner. It is essential that we all remain united and extend our best wishes to each other,’ Mikati added in an address to his visitors.

In turn, Minister Kallas said, ‘Sports have proven that Lebanon continues to smile. We often spoke of sportsmanship, and now we emphasize the importance of sports ethics, which everyone has upheld. I thank the Prime Minister for the invitation and the warm reception. Just as the Serail hosts political and diplomatic delegations, it joyfully welcomes sports delegations today, specifically Al Riyadi and Hekmeh, and through them, all the youth in Lebanon. The Ministry of Youth and Sports provides moral support, and I assure you, Prime Minister, that all sports teams are working diligently.’

For his part, MP Pakradouni remarked, ‘I believe that for the first time in a long while, both Al Riyadi and Hekmeh team members are genuinely happy. Hekmeh’s remarkable journey and Al Riyadi’s championship victory in Lebanon are, in themselves, significant achievements.’

Ragheb Haddad, President of Hekmeh Club, noted, ‘I want to highlight Hekmeh’s comeback, which has led to this beautiful scene today. The match between Hekmeh and Al Riyadi was highly anticipated by the entire Lebanese populace. Basketball has once again become a household name, engaging both the young and the old, which is incredibly important for the younger generation. Despite the crises, this week has showcased the best image of Lebanon. We respect Al Riyadi, maintain good relations with their administration, and our players share exceptional camaraderie, having played together on joint teams. Any tensions that arise during matches are purely within the bounds of sportsmanship.’

Mazen Tabbara, President of Al Riyadi Club, stated, ‘The derby is the essence of basketball, propelling Lebanese sports to greater heights and placing us on the international map, which is a source of pride. This responsibility, the stewardship of basketball, instills ambition in our youth, steering them away from many vices and portraying Lebanon as a land of genuine coexistence. Representing Lebanon and holding the basketball championship for an extended period, we aim to showcase Lebanon’s best image internationally. We have special responsibilities in the diaspora and the Gulf countries and wish both teams success in achieving the highest levels of success.’

Source: National News Agency – Lebanon

King holds talks with Oman sultan at Basman Palace

Amman: -His Majesty King Abdullah II and Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman on Wednesday held talks at Basman Palace that covered the deep-rooted ties and the latest regional developments.

According to a royal court statement, His Majesty welcomed Sultan Haitham bin Tarik on his visit to the Kingdom, while Sultan Haitham expressed appreciation of the King for the hospitality and warm welcome.

During bilateral talks followed by expanded ones, attended by His Royal Highness Prince Feisal bin Al Hussein, the escort of honour to Sultan Haitham, the two leaders reaffirmed their pride in the deep-rooted relations between the two countries and peoples.

The two leaders also stressed the importance of expanding bilateral cooperation in all fields, especially in economic and investment sectors.

The talks covered various international and regional issues, especially the dangerous situation in Gaza.

The two leaders stressed the need to reach an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, protect civilians, and step up
efforts to increase and maintain the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid to the Strip.

His Majesty reiterated the importance of urgent international action to put an end to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Strip.

The King warned against the dangerous repercussions of the Israeli ground offensive on Rafah, which could lead to a regional spillover of the conflict.

His Majesty stressed the need to create a political horizon to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution, as well as the need to support the Palestinian people in gaining their full and legitimate rights, and the establishment of their independent state on the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh, Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Director of the Office of His Majesty Jafar Hassan, General Intelligence Department Director Maj. Gen. Ahmad Husni, Investment Minister Kholoud Saqqaf, and Jorda
n’s Ambassador to Oman Amjad Quhaiwi attended the talks.

From the Omani side, Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs His Highness Sayyid Shihab bin Tarik Al Said, Sayyid Bilarab bin Haitham Al Said, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Minister of the Royal Office Gen. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nuamani, Foreign Minister Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Oman’s Ambassador to Jordan Sheikh Fahad bin Abdulrahman Al Ojaili, and a number of Omani officials attended the talks.

Following the talks, His Majesty received the Order of Al Said from Sultan Haitham, which is the highest medal in Oman, in appreciation of the King, and in recognition of the deep-rooted ties between the two countries.

His Majesty bestowed Al Hussein bin Ali Medal on Sultan Haitham, the highest civilian medal in Jordan awarded to heads of state and royalty, to highlight the deep-rooted ties between the two countries, and on the occasion of Sultan Haitham’s state visit to Jordan.

Source: Jordan News Agency

King receives Oman sultan at Marka Airport

Amman: His Majesty King Abdullah II on Wednesday received Oman Sultan Haitham bin Tariq at Marka Airport at the start of his state visit to Jordan.

According to a royal court statement, an official welcoming ceremony was held for the Oman sultan.

Their Royal Highnesses Prince Feisal bin Hussein; the escort of honour to Sultan Haitham, and Prince Hashim bin Hussein, and His Highness Prince Mired bin Ra’ad; Chief Royal Councilor at the Royal Hashemite Court, as well as the heads of authorities, senior officials and officers, Jordan’s ambassador to Oman, and Oman’s ambassador to Jordan were present to receive the sultan.

Royal Jordanian Air Force F16 fighter jets accompanied Sultan Haitham’s aircraft upon entering Jordan’s airspace.

A high-level delegation, including Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq, Sayyid Bilarab bin Haitham Al Said, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Minister of Royal Office Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nu’amani, Foreign Minister B
adr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, and a number of officials are accompanying Sultan Haitham on his visit to Jordan.

Source: Jordan News Agency

Jordan, Hungary Foreign Ministers talk Israeli war on Gaza

Amman: Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto Wednesday discussed the Israeli war on Gaza and the international efforts for a ceasefire.

During a press conference of the two ministers, Safadi welcomed Norway, Ireland and Spain’s decision to recognise the Palestinian state. “There are other European countries on this path, and we value this decision and consider it an important and essential step to confirm that the path to peace is the two-state solution that embodies the independent, sovereign Palestinian state along the lines of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

He said, “We hope that these decisions today will be part of a broader movement that realises peace and puts the region and the world on a clear path toward peace.”

On the escalation in the occupied West Bank, he said, “The situation is worsening, and the illegitimate repressive measures that kill the chances of achieving peace continue.

“We saw an intrusion by the extremist Israeli Minister
Ben Gvir into the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque in violation of international law and the existing historical and legal situation in the holy sites.”

He added, “We held fruitful and impactful talks regarding bilateral relations, and we signed four memorandums of understanding that will contribute to increasing bilateral cooperation between our two countries in various fields, the most important of which are the fields of environment and education.”

He noted that they agreed to provide 400 scholarships for Jordanians in Hungary in cooperation between the Ministry of Higher Education in the Kingdom and the relevant authorities in Hungary.

He added, “We stressed that we are continuing to work to develop our bilateral relations and create broader horizons for cooperation in many sectors, including the economy, environment, education, water, infrastructure and other sectors.”

Safadi added, “There was extensive talk about the situation in the region, specifically the catastrophe that the aggression continues to impose
on Gaza and the region.

“Today things have gone for the worse. In Gaza, we have seen international organisations ceasing aid operations due to the lack of the necessary conditions,” accusing the Israeli forces of restricting the work of international organisations.

He added, “The situation is already on the brink of explosion, and we have seen decisions by other ministers allowing the return of illegal settlers to settlement outposts that Israel itself announced its dismantling years ago.

“We also saw the extremist Israeli Minister of Finance announce that he will not give the Palestinian Authority its right to its financial allocations. We also saw a trend toward building new settlement outposts specifically in the E1 area, which will consolidate the separation of the West Bank.”

He urged the international community to take action. “Enough wasting time and enough allowing illegal and illegitimate measures that push the region towards further aggravation.”

He warned, “The situation in the occupied West B
ank is on the brink of abyss. If the situation in the West Bank explodes, the conflict will take a more dangerous and greater turn. The [Israeli] measures announced today are measures that push towards further aggravation.”

Safadi called on the international community to take action for piecemeal steps towards realising the two-state solution by ending the Israeli war on embattled Gaza, allowing aid in, lifting restrictions on the work of international and adhering to the international law organisations.

On Israel’s violations in the occupied West Bank and non-compliance with peace agreements, Safadi said, “Jordan and all Arab countries supported the talks held by the Arab Republic of Egypt, the State of Qatar and the United States of America to reach a deal that would resolve this issue in its entirety.

“This has not been achieved. We want to end all conflict, and for it to end, its causes must end. All Arab countries condemned the killing of civilians on October 7, but we did not hear a single Israeli of
ficial condemning the killing of more than 35,000 Palestinian citizens in Gaza; 70 per cent cent children and women.”

He added, “October 7 did not happen in a vacuum, and we must put things in their context to know how to deal with them. The basis of the conflict in the region is that there is an illegal occupation that deprives an entire people of their right to live in freedom and dignity in their independent, sovereign state.”

He added, “The world supports the two-state solution as the only way to achieve peace. The two-state solution means the end of the occupation and means that an independent, sovereign Palestinian state will live in security and peace alongside Israel.

“This is what Jordan has worked for over decades to achieve a just and comprehensive peace consistent with international law and international legitimacy resolutions.”

On refugees, Safadi said, “Jordan is the largest host country for refugees in the world per capita, and the Kingdom has done everything it can to provide a decent livi
ng for refugees, but now we face a challenge that many donor countries have begun to abandon their role and are trying to place the responsibility of caring for refugees on the host countries alone.”

“That is, to Jordan. Our message to the world is that we have done everything we can. We will continue doing everything we can to provide a decent life for refugees, but this is a shared responsibility and not our responsibility alone. The serious decline in the support provided to refugees will reflect negatively on the lives of refugees.”

Safadi stressed, “This fault is not on us, the fault of that is on those who did not do their part and did not provide services,” warning that there would be a shortage of services provided to refugees in the coming period because “we will not be able to fill the void as a result of the international community not fully committing to its obligations concerning refugees.”

Safadi added, “There will be a meeting in Brussels within two days to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis.
Our message will be clear that the international community that does not do its part in supporting refugees is the one that will bear the consequences of the decline in services.”

On international recognition of the State of Palestine, Safadi said European countries will start recognising the State of Palestine “in the coming days.”

He added, “We highly value this decision, and we believe that it is a fundamental and necessary step to respond to what the Israeli government is doing in terms of its rejection of the two-state solution and rejection of the right of the Palestinian people to their freedom and independent state.”

He added, “We have been in contact with Norway, Ireland, all European countries and the international community to end the aggression against Gaza and to put the region on a clear and strict path towards achieving a two-state solution.”

For his part, Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto said, “This year we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the beginning of our diplomatic relations
, coinciding with the Kingdom’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of His Majesty the King assuming his constitutional powers.

“I would like to take advantage of this occasion to say that we in Hungary view with all appreciation and respect Jordan’s role in the region.”

Szijjarto added, “Jordan’s clear and frank position is important to us, and we respect it because we believe that policies based on rationality give us hope that security can once again return to the Middle East.”

He said, “The terrorist attack on October 7 opened a new era in the life of the Middle East, and this new situation in the Middle East constitutes a security threat even to Europe.

“For our part, we believe that the international community must focus on not allowing the situation to escalate in the Middle East.”

Szijjarto praised Jordan’s part in hosting refugees. “If Jordan had not cared for hundreds of thousands and millions of refugees, we would have had to do so. Jordan deserves all the help and support from Europe.”

arto said, “In the coming period during Hungary’s presidency of the EU, we would like to invite the European-Jordanian Joint Council to convene and discuss the forms of support that the European Union can provide to Jordan so that we can reduce the burden on Jordan and reduce the burden on Europe from future waves of migration.”

Source: Jordan News Agency

Hneifat: Jordan’s agricultural exports up by JD150mln in 2023

Amman: Minister of Agriculture, Khaled Hneifat, said Jordan saved JD434 million in its agricultural import bill in 2023, while the Kingdom’s exports increased last year by JD150 million.

Hneifat made the remarks at a ceremony held to launch 10 research groups for the year 2024 in University of Jordan (UJ)’s Faculty of Agriculture, specialized in agricultural fields.

Hneifat stressed the importance of the Kingdom’s agricultural sector as a “key” factor to ensure food security.

Hneifat added that His Majesty King Abdullah II was the first to warn that the next dilemma after the Covid-19 pandemic would be a food security crisis.

Despite Jordan is “the poorest” country in water resources and “highly” affected by climate change, he said the Kingdom produces 61% of its consumer needs, and its agricultural exports reach more than 100 countries globally.

The minister added that Jordan is the 9th country in livestock exports, and the first Arab nation in seed production, attributing this progress to the scientifi
c and research efforts and farmer-researcher cooperation in this field.

On future action, he affirmed the ministry’s continued support to agricultural scientific research under the agricultural entrepreneurship incubator at the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), which has turned about 55 pioneering researches into businesses.

Source: Jordan News Agency