FILE- Prime Minister Sherif IsmailCAIRO – 18 March 2018: Egypt’s Cabinet approved on Sunday the new state budget for fiscal year 2018/19, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said, adding that it will be referred to the Parliament.Ismail said in a press conference at the Cabinet headquarters that the new budget targets expenditures of LE 1.41 trillion, GDP growth of 5.8 percent, 88 per cent public debt and achieving a primary budget surplus.He added that the budget targets a budget deficit of 8.4 percent of GDP and investments worth LE 100 billion, up from LE 70 in the previous budget.The Prime Minister confirmed that the Egyptian economy is going in the right direction.An initial outline presented by Finance Minister Amr el-Garhy to Ismail earlier this month shows that the Finance Ministry is targeting a budget deficit of between 8.5 and 8.8 percent.Garhy projected that revenues for the year would reach LE 1 trillion for the first time in the country’s history.

March 18, 2018 14:37 UTC

Egyptian Community in Germany after casting their votes in the 2018 presidential polls- Egypt TodayCAIRO – 18 March 2018: Egyptian communities in Europe have demonstrated their keenness to participate in the political life of Egypt as they registered a huge voter turnout in the 2018 presidential election.In Germany, of the 77,000+ Egyptian expats living there, roughly 3,600 voters are registered to cast their votes in three ballot stations across Germany; in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt. Yet, even though the Egyptian community in Germany exceeds 77,000, most of them are ineligible to vote because they hold foreign citizenships.“I’m proud of being Egyptian,” said Alaa Thabet who has been living in Germany for over 20 years. Thabet has been going to the embassy on all three days of voting; describing the atmosphere at the embassy as a “ceremony of love for Egypt.”Thabet affirmed that he didn’t face any kind of problems while casting his vote. He praised the efforts exerted by the Egyptian diplomatic mission in France to ease and assist the voters during casting their ballots throughout the election.“I’d like to thank the Egyptian Embassy’s media counselor Rasha Ali for the sincere efforts she has been exerting to support the Egyptian community in France during the 2018 presidential polls,” Shokair added.Maram el-Sobky, an Egyptian expat living in Paris, saw another Egyptian expat crying because she was not registered as an eligible voter in the polls. The final results of the first round will be announced on April 2.

March 18, 2018 14:03 UTC

Zimbabweans celebrated the swearing-in of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe's successor - AFPHARARE - 18 March 2018: Zimbabwe's first presidential and parliamentary elections since the end of former strongman Robert Mugabe's long rule will take place in July, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Saturday.The polls will be the first major test of the new leader, who took power in November after a de facto military coup forced the 94-year-old Mugabe to resign.They will also be the first without Mugabe's name on the ballot since independence from Britain in 1980. "As a nation, party and government, we are looking forward to very peaceful, transparent and harmonised elections in July this year," Mnangagwa told reporters after a meeting with South Africans President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday night.Mnangagwa, 75, said the elections would be free of the violence that gripped previous polls and which was one of the reasons for strained relations between Zimbabwe and the West. "I have already invited all political parties in Zimbabwe to a roundtable where we all commit ourselves to non-violence," he added.Mnanaggwa will have to announce a date in an official notice. He has said he would invite Western observers, who had been banned under Mugabe's rule.The state-owned weekly Sunday Mail said a European Union pre-election team was expectewd in Harare on Monday.The EU head of mission in Zimbabwe, Phillipe Van Damme, told the paper it would meet the president, political party leaders, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.Mugabe, in his first comments since he stepped down, said last week that Mnangagwa's rule was "illegitimate" and a "disgrace".

March 18, 2018 11:37 UTC

FILE- Egyptian currencyCAIRO - 18 March 2018: The US dollar exchange rate was relatively stable at Egypt's major banks on Sunday morning.The dollar rate stood at LE 17.55 for buying and LE 17.65 for selling at the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Du Caire.At Banque Misr, the dollar price dropped one piaster to register LE 17.53 for buying and LE 17.63 for selling.The dollar exchange rate recorded LE 17.56 for buying and LE 17.66 for selling at the Arab African International Bank.At Bank of Alexandria, the dollar price reached LE 17.56 for buying and LE 17.66 for selling.At the Commercial International Bank (CIB), the dollar price shaved off one piaster to record LE 17.55 for buying and LE 17.65 for selling.The dollar price stood at LE 17.56 for buying and LE 17.66 for selling at the National Bank of Greece.The dollar exchange rate recorded LE 17.59 for buying and LE 17.69 for selling at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

March 18, 2018 11:37 UTC

Egyptian expatriates at Egyptian embassy in Oman to vote in the presidential election - Egypt TodayCAIRO – 18 March 2018: Egypt’s Embassy in Oman garnered a huge presence from the Egyptian community abroad who went to cast their votes in the 2018 presidential election on Sunday.Egypt’s Ambassador to Oman, Mohamed Ghoneim, added that the voting process for Egyptians abroad is proceeding smoothly on the first and second day, thanking the Omani authorities for facilitating the election procedures.A number of members of the Egyptian community in Oman confirmed that they are happy to participate democratically in choosing their president with integrity and transparency.Hussein Siam, who has special needs, said he was keen to participate in the presidential elections despite it being difficult for him to reach the embassy, calling all Egyptians around the world to participate.Egyptian expatriates worldwide visited 139 polling stations early on Saturday across embassies and consulates to cast their ballots on the second day of the 2018 presidential election, which is scheduled to last abroad until Sunday.The Egyptian embassies in New Zealand and Australia inaugurated the second day of voting earlier than other embassies, starting at 10 p.m. (Cairo time), while consulates and embassies across the world officially opened their doors Saturday at 9 a.m. local time in each country.In 2017, the government estimated the number of Egyptians living abroad to be 9.4 million.The National Election Authority (NEA), headed by counselor Lashen Ibrahim, announced on February 24 the final list for Egypt’s upcoming presidential election including President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Moussa Moustafa Moussa, head of al-Ghad Party.Sixty million eligible voters will cast their ballots in the election beginning March 26 until March 28 in Egypt, while expatriates begun voting on March 16 and will continue to do so until Sunday at 139 polling stations located in embassies and consulates in 124 countries, Ibrahim said in a press conference.The primary results of the first round of the election will be announced on March 29, where decisions on appeals submitted by candidates, if any, will be made. The final results of the first round will be announced on April 2.

March 18, 2018 11:32 UTC

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shakes hands with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong during their media conference during the one-off summit of 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Sydney, Australia - REUTERS/DavSYDNEY - 18 March 2018: The leaders of Australia and Singapore closed a regional summit on Sunday with a stand against protectionism, arguing in favor of multi-nation trade deals as fears mount that U.S. plans for new tariffs could stoke a global trade war.“We strongly believe that a free, open and rules-based multilateral trading system is key to the region’s growth and prosperity,” Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a news conference to mark the end of a summit between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).President Donald Trump announced the tariffs on March 7 to protect domestic steel and aluminum producers on national security grounds. The United States is also looking at tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of Chinese imports, targeting technology and telecommunications sectors.Lee and Turnbull urged ASEAN to speedily agree to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a China-backed alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact that Trump withdrew the United States from last year.“If we secure a good agreement, this would be, as one of our colleagues said this morning, an antithesis of protectionism, it would ensure, on the back of the TPP-11, that the Indo-Pacific continues to be the fulcrum of open and free trade,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.Officially, the summit was focused on fostering closer economic ties among the members of ASEAN and Australia, and countering the threat of Islamist militants returning to the region from the Middle East.Australia hosted the weekend meetings despite not being a member of the 10-nation bloc, aiming to tighten political and trade ties in the region amid China’s rising influence.In a joint communique issued at the conclusion of the summit, ASEAN and Australia also called for “self-restraint” in the South China Sea, where aggressive Chinese expansion has irked ASEAN members.“We emphasize the importance of non-militarization and the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint...and avoid actions that may complicate the situation,” the communique said.ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, also have claims in the important trade waterway that is mostly claimed by China, which has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and air strips.“This is a security and stability question in Southeast Asia which will affect all ASEAN countries if it goes wrong,” Lee said.ASEAN also called for the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and urged all U.N. members to strictly apply Security-Council sanctions on North Korea.Earlier in the summit, ASEAN and Australia announced new measures to co-operate on counter-terror intelligence.

March 18, 2018 10:52 UTC

Israeli forces on Sunday knocked out a tunnel in the Gaza Strip dug by Hamas militants to mount cross-border attacks, the military said. The tunnel had been cut off during the 2014 Gaza war and Hamas had tried to put it back into operation, a military spokesman said. It had been dug inside the Hamas-ruled enclave several hundred meters away from Israel’s border fence. Since then, Israel has been working on advanced counter-measures including a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, a US$1.1 billion project it aims to complete by mid-2019. Israel last went public with an operation against a Gaza tunnel in the area in January, saying that the secret passage had also run through neighboring Egypt.

March 18, 2018 10:41 UTC

Each winter, camels lope around the moon-like desert landscape of the lowest place on Earth under the watchful eyes of their Bedouin Arab herders, in an ancient tradition passed from father to son over the generations. Ali El Guran brings his herd of more than 100 camels from southern Israel to the Dead Sea every November to pasture. But for three months a year, El Guran and the other herders live as their forefathers have for generations. El Guran sells some of the baby camels as well as camel milk to make a living. As winter comes to an end, the area gets very hot and the camels are taken to a higher elevation, where it’s cooler.

March 18, 2018 10:07 UTC

Mackett of the Business District Project in the New Administrative CapitalCAIRO – 18 March 2018: Prime Minster Sherif Ismail laid the foundation stone of the Business District in the New Administrative Capital.A number of people participated in the launch, including: the Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, Mustafa Madboli; Major Chairman of the New Administrative Capital Company, Ahmed Zaki Abdeen; the Chinese ambassador to Cairo; and officials from the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).Ismail said that this project includes the construction of 20 towers, stressing that the project is a great civilization shift that will provide thousands of job opportunities.The investment for this project totals around $3 billion, financed by Chinese loans. The New Urban Communities Authority will repay 15 percent of it as a deposit, while the remaining percentage will be repaid over 10 years after the project’s construction, Minister of Housing Madboli said.Madboli added that the total area of the project is 1.71 million square meters, located on an area of 195 feddans.He clarified that the project will include the tallest building in Africa, which will be up to 385 meters high.

March 18, 2018 10:04 UTC

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said during a visit to East Port Said industrial zone on Saturday that the government is undertaking economic reform measures to provide funds for the Sinai Development Project totaled at LE275 billion. Sisi suggested that part of the amount which the Egyptian people donated to dig the New Suez Canal — LE64 billion in total — is being used to construct the canal’s tunnels. Sisi clarified that the government started the three projects in parallel — the New Suez Canal, tunnels and the East Port Said industrial zone. Chief of the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces Kamel al-Wazer answered Sisi’s question on the reasons for the late completion of the East Port Said Development Project and said that stones required for the project are being transferred from Suez quarries because they are cheap. Wazer said that the deadline for the project will possibly extend until October 2018, three months later than the original deadline.

March 18, 2018 09:56 UTC

A senior North Korean diplomat handling North American affairs was heading to Finland on Sunday for talks with the US and South Korea. Choe Kang Il’s trip comes ahead of a possible meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Choe was in the delegation North Korea sent to last month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea. So far, North Korea has yet to comment publicly on what it hopes to gain from the talks. Senior South Korean officials who traveled to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang this month and met with Kim say he is willing to discuss the North’s nuclear weapons program.

March 18, 2018 09:56 UTC

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will visit Egypt on Monday to discuss issues of common interest between the two countries during a bilateral summit with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He added that the meeting will discuss efforts to resolve the outstanding issues between the two sides and to consolidate bilateral relations. Egypt relations with Sudan soured in January after negotiations on the impact of the GERD stalled. Another source of tensions between Egypt and Sudan is the dispute over the Halayeb and Shalateen region. Sudan accuses Egypt of occupying the territory, while Egypt says it is rightfully under its sovereignty.

March 18, 2018 09:33 UTC

Turkey’s president said Sunday that allied Syrian forces have taken “total” control of the town center of Afrin, the target of a nearly two-month offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia, which said the fighting was still underway. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Turkey-backed forces have taken control of half the town, with intense fighting still underway. Turkey views the Kurdish forces in the Afrin enclave along the border as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. The Observatory says nearly 200,000 people have fled the Afrin region in recent days amid heavy airstrikes, entering Syrian government-held territory nearby. The Kurdish militia and the Observatory said Turkish jets struck Afrin’s main hospital on Friday, killing over a dozen people.

March 18, 2018 09:00 UTC

A young Egyptian participates in the Egyptian presidential elections in KSA- Egypt TodayYoung Egyptian participates in the Egyptian presidential elections in Australia- Egypt TodayAn old lady participates in the Egyptian presidential elections in Riyadh- Egypt TodayAn old lady participates in the Egyptian presidential elections in Kuwait- Egypt TodayAn old lady participates in the Egyptian presidential elections in KSA- Egypt TodayA young Egyptian participates in the Egyptian presidential elections in KSA.- Egypt TodayDeep look on people challenged with disabilities in Egypt CAIRO - 24 February 2018: Through the initiative of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare 2018 as the year of those challenged with a disability, numerous efforts and decisions have been taken to assure them proper living conditions, but indeed more efforts need to be exerted. CAIRO – 17 March 2018: A huge number of Egyptians living abroad went to Egyptian embassies and consulates to cast their vote in the 2018 presidential election on its second day.Many scenes were highlighted through the election process, but the most inspiring scenes were for people with disabilities and old age who were keen to participate in their country’s future despite the challenges they may face.A young Egyptian with a physical disability in Australia traveled a long distance to vote in the Egyptian consulate in Sidney. He told journalists that he exerted many efforts to partake in the election and that he supports President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is running for a second term against politician Moussa Moustafa Moussa.The Egyptian community in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait flocked in large numbers to vote in the presidential election. Many were seen holding Egyptian flags and wearing t-shirts with the name of Egypt. Again, there was an encouraging scene of a young Egyptian with a physical disability who lives in KSA and insisted on going to the Egyptian embassy in Riyadh to vote, as there is a remarkable improvement in the care of people with disabilities in terms of accessibility at polling stations.Wheel chairs didn’t prevent old ladies from being part of their country’s future, either.

March 18, 2018 08:15 UTC

Two Israelis were killed and at least two others wounded Friday in a suspected car ramming near the Jewish settlement of Mevo Dotan in the northern West Bank, Israeli media reported. Israel’s Defense Forces said a Palestinian “ran over (Israeli) soldiers who were securing routes” on a highway in the area, describing it as a deliberate attack. Israel’s Shin Bet security service said he had spent time in prison for security offenses and was released last year. The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued a statement praising the “operation” but did not take responsibility. The incident came as hundreds of Palestinians staged protests across the West Bank to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israeli’s capital.

March 18, 2018 08:03 UTC