KING SALMAN VISITS EGYPT
Saudi King Salman arrived in Egypt on Thursday as he begins an important state visit to the country. The visit is expected to cement political and economic ties between the two nations, including firming up deals worth billions.
King Salman will address the Egyptian Parliament in his first official visit to Egypt since becoming monarch in January 2015.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif was made acting Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in a Royal Decree before the king’s departure.On Wednesday, in preparation for his arrival, the 15th round of the Saudi-Egyptian joint committee kicked off to a promising start, said the Saudi Press Agency.
In statements following the meeting, Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Haqabani, undersecretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Saeed Abdullah, first undersecretary at the Egyptian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said the first day’s outcome was positive.
Al-Haqabani rejected reports that there were serious obstacles facing Saudi investments in Egypt, and said they were customs-related problems easily settled by officials in charge. He said trade was worth $4.4 billion in 2015 and would be increased this year.
Abdullah said 15 agreements covering development and rehabilitation of Sinai, petroleum, commerce, industry, education, and culture and information would be signed on the sidelines of the meetings.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has emphasized the importance of King Salman’s visit to Cairo and spoke of the “special relationship” between the two countries in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV.
“Some media circles have been doubting the strength of our relationship but I am in constant communication with my Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir who has assured that ties remain strong,” Shoukry said.
Since 2013, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have given Cairo around $35 billion in aid in the form of oil shipments, cash grants and deposits into its central bank.
Agencies | 27 Jumadal Ukhra 1437/06 April 2016
Rising tensions worldwide helped push up military expenditure in 2015, the first increase after four years of declining spending, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report published on Tuesday.
For the full-year 2015, world military spending totalled $1.67 trillion, a rise of one percent from the previous year.
The increase was attributed primarily to more expenditure in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East, while the decline in spending in the West was levelling off, SIPRI said.
The United States remains in pole position as the country that spends the most on its armed forces, by far.
Washington’s military spending budget of $596 billion was down by 2.4 percent from the previous year, a smaller decline than in recent years.
SIPRI senior researcher Sam Perlo-Freeman said the United States now has “additional overseas contingency operations’ (OCO) spending from the war against” the ISIL group.
The world’s second-biggest spender, China, dished out $215 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia which overtook Russia for third place at $87.2 billion. Moscow spent $66.4 billion.
During the 10-year period from 2006-2015, the US military budget shrank by four percent, while China’s soared by 132 percent. Those of Saudi Arabia and Russia also increased significantly, by 97 and 91 percent respectively.
France, which had the fifth biggest budget in 2014, fell to seventh place behind Britain and India.
Military spending budgets continued to decline across Western Europe, albeit less sharply than in recent years.
“The reasons for the change in trend are Russia, ISIL and NATO politics,” Perlo-Freeman said, noting that Alliance members have agreed to maintain spending at two percent of their gross domestic product until 2024.
In Asia, rising spending in Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam reflected tensions with China and North Korea, SIPRI said.