Foreign currency inflows to banks reach $77B

Foreign Currencies – FlickrCAIRO – 22 April 2018: Foreign currency inflows to banks operating in Egypt have risen to more than $77 billion since the flotation of the Egyptian currency in November 2016, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, Ramy Abul-Naga, told Egypt Today Sunday.The central bank announced earlier that Egypt’s foreign reserves had increased by $100 million by the end of March 2018 to reach $42.6 billion, as compared to $42.5 billion a month before.Egypt clinched a $12-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the flotation.The IMF loan helped the state’s foreign reserves to rebound by receiving the first three tranches of the loan with a total value of $6.08 billion.The $2 billion fourth tranche will be received by Cairo after the program’s third review in June.The current average of foreign reserves covers about eight months of Egypt's commodity imports, which is higher than the global average of about three months of commodity imports.Egypt spends an average of $5 billion monthly on imports with an annual total of more than $60 billion.Foreign currencies of Egypt’s foreign reserves include the U.S. dollar, Euro, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and Chinese yuan.The main function of the foreign exchange reserve, including its gold and various international currencies, is to provide commodities, repay the installments on interest rates of external debt, and to cope with economic crises.

Source:Egypt Today

April 22, 2018 10:07 UTC

Blast at election center in Afghan capital, dozens of casualties

Afghan security forces keep watch at a check point close to the compound of Afghanistan's national intelligence agency in Kabul, Afghanistan. December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Omar SobhaniKABUL - 22 April 2018: A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a voter registration center in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, killing at least 31 people and wounding more than 50, most of them waiting in line to receive identity cards, officials said.Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a project of key importance to the credibility of President Ashraf Ghani’s Western-backed government, which has pledged to hold parliamentary elections this year.Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said a bomber on foot approached the center where officials had been issuing identity cards as part of the registration process for voters for the election scheduled for October.A spokesman for the ministry of public health said at least 31 people were confirmed dead and 54 wounded. The explosion destroyed cars and shattered windows in nearby buildings, leaving rubble strewn across the street.It was the most serious attack in Kabul since about 100 people were killed in January by a bomb concealed in an ambulance.After weeks of relative calm, the blast took place in Dasht-e Barchi, an area of western Kabul inhabited by many members of the mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority, which has been repeatedly hit by attacks claimed by Islamic State.“There were women, children. Everyone had come to get their identity cards,” said Bashir Ahmad who had been nearby the blast, which occurred despite heightened security measures following the January attack.Voter registration centers have been set up across Afghanistan ahead of long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections due to be held in October and there have been serious concerns that militants might attack them.President Ghani has been under heavy pressure from his international partners to ensure the elections are held this year, ahead of a presidential election due in 2019 although there has been widespread scepticism that they will take place.“They should be keeping the country safe, if they can’t, someone else should be in their place,” said Sajeda, who was wounded in the blast along with three other members of her family as they lined up for their cards.Voter registration began this month but there have already been a number of attacks apparently aimed at disrupting the preparations.Also on Sunday, a roadside bomb near a voter registration center in the northern city of Pul-i Khumri killed six members of a family and wounded three as they drove past the site although there was no indication the attacks were linked.Unless the process of registering millions of voters, many of whom do not have national identity cards, can be completed before winter sets, the vote would almost certainly have to be postponed until next year.According to U.N. figures, more than 750 people have been killed or maimed in suicide attacks and bombings by militant groups during the three months to March.

Source:Egypt Today

April 22, 2018 09:22 UTC

North Korea's nuclear pledge adds momentum to South's preparations for summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claps with military officers at the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in an unknown location in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) onSEOUL - 22 April 2018: South Korea’s preparations for its first summit with North Korea in more than a decade are in full swing this week, officials said on Sunday, a day after the North’s pledge to end its nuclear tests raised hopes but also scepticism.North Korea said on Saturday it was suspending nuclear and missile tests and scrapping its nuclear test site, and instead pursuing economic growth and peace ahead of planned summits with South Korea and the United States.The announcement was welcomed by leaders around the world including U.S. President Donald Trump.But some have expressed doubts about the North’s intentions and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be under intense international scrutiny when he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday.“North Korea has a long history of raising the issue of denuclearization and has committed to freeze its nuclear weapons programs in the past. We all remember how those pledges and commitments went down over past decades,” said Nam Sung-wook, a professor of North Korean Studies at Korea University in Seoul.“Although the North’s announcement is quite dramatic, it’s natural for the world to be extra sensitive to every word spoken by Kim.”Kim’s announcement did not include a commitment to scrap existing nuclear weapons and missiles, and there are doubts he would ever give up the nuclear arsenal his country has been developing for decades.Kim said North Korea no longer needed to test nuclear bombs or intercontinental ballistic missiles now that his country had the weapons, and he would gear all efforts toward economic development.Moon, who welcomed Kim’s announcement as a “major” step toward denuclearization, is making the summit his sole focus this week, staying in the presidential Blue House to prepare with no outside engagements, a Blue House official said on Sunday.South Korea’s presidential security service met officials from the military as well as the U.N. Command on Saturday to discuss security at the border truce village of Panmunjom, where the inter-Korean summit will take place, the official said.For the past few weeks, South Korea has been renovating Peace House, on its side of Panmunjom, to prepare for the summit with Kim, who will be the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-1953 Korean War.On Monday, the two Koreas will hold another round of working-level talks at the Tongil Pavilion on the North Korean side of Panmumjom to discuss protocol, security and media coverage of the summit.‘BIG PROGRESS’Moon now has a direct phone link with Kim on his office desk, instead of having to communicate through a hotline at the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom, which had been the main channel between the two sides over the Winter Olympics in February.The two leaders are expected to talk over the newly installed phone for the first time this week, before the summit, South Korea said on Friday.A senior U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Susan Thornton, arrives in Seoul later on Sunday to meet South Korea’s foreign minister as well as its top nuclear negotiator.Trump called North Korea’s offer to freeze testing and close its only known nuclear testing site “very good news” and “big progress”, while South Korea said it signified “meaningful” progress that would create good conditions for successful summits with it and later with the United States.Kim is expected to meet Trump in late May or early June, the first meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.U.S. officials say North Korea had in the past repeatedly reneged on denuclearization agreements, the latest in 2012 when the North launched a long-range rocket after agreeing to a moratorium on missile testing.Experts also say that North Korea’s offer not to test or transfer nuclear weapons appeared a statement of an aim to be a “responsible” nuclear weapons state, rather than an intention to denuclearize.Cheong Seong-chang, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute think-tank, said a firm commitment to denuclearize could not be expected before negotiations with the United States began.“Kim cannot give up everything at once. What is clear is that he is showing his earnest willingness to pave the way for smooth negotiations,” Cheong said.

Source:Egypt Today

April 22, 2018 08:26 UTC