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Canadian PM Trudeau says Kovrig, Spavor have left China

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were picked up in December 2018 on charges of espionage but critics described it as ‘hostage diplomacy’.Two Canadian citizens who were detained by Beijing for almost three years have left Chinese airspace and will arrive back in Canada early on Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. Michael Kovrig and…

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Canadian PM Trudeau says Kovrig, Spavor have left China

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were picked up in December 2018 on charges of espionage but critics described it as ‘hostage diplomacy’.Two Canadian citizens who were detained by Beijing for almost three years have left Chinese airspace and will arrive back in Canada early on Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were picked up in December 2018 on charges of espionage, shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant.
Shortly before Trudeau spoke, Canadian media reported that Meng flew back to China after reaching a deal with US authorities.
“Twelve minutes ago Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor left Chinese airspace on their way back home,” Trudeau told reporters in brief remarks.

BREAKING – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Michael Kovrig and Micheal Spavor are on a plane back to Canada right now. After a 1000+ days in a Chinese prison, the two Michaels are on their way back home #cdnpoli https://t.co/0RD39Rv075 pic.twitter.com/mQw0h1xTqC
— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) September 25, 2021

 
“These two men have been through an unbelievably difficult situation, but it is inspiring and it is good news for all of us that they are on their way home to their families.”
Trudeau said that Kovrig and Spavor were accompanied home by Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton.
“I know that there’s going to be time for reflections and analyses in the coming days and weeks. But the fact of the matter is, I know that Canadians will be incredibly happy to know right now, this Friday night that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are on the plane and they are coming home.”
‘Hostage diplomacy’
In a statement, US State Secretary Antony Blinken also welcomed the release, “after more than two-and-a-half years of arbitrary detention”.
“We are pleased that they are returning home to Canada.”
Both Kovrig and Spavor were put on trial in March of this year.
In August, Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison, while there had been no decision in Kovrig’s case.
Their families at the beginning of September led hundreds of supporters marching 7,000 steps through the Canadian capital – the same number Kovrig said in letters to his family he walked in his small cell every day – to bring attention to their detention.
Representatives of 26 countries had also gathered outside the building in Beijing where his closed-door trial was held in March.
Supporters of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor march to mark 1,000 days since the Canadians were arrested in China, during a protest in Ottawa earlier this month [File: Blair Gable/Reuters]Canadian and other diplomats were also barred from attending Spavor’s trial in the northern Chinese city of Dandong.
The two Canadians had had almost no contact with the outside world since their detention, and virtual consular visits only resumed in October 2020 after a nine-month hiatus that authorities said was due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Al Jazeera’s Jody Vance, reporting from Vancouver, said Canadians were “joyful” about hearing the news.
“This has been a very long road, a worrisome road of over a thousand days,” she said.
But she also said that the episode has strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing, adding that the issue “is not going away anytime soon”.
“Where do we go from here in terms of the relationship between Canada and China?”
Although Beijing has insisted that the two cases were not linked, Trudeau’s Liberal government accused China of engaging in “hostage diplomacy”. Trudeau was not asked whether the two countries had struck a bilateral deal.
“I want to thank our allies and partners around the world in the international community who have stood steadfast in solidarity with Canada and with these two Canadians,” Trudeau said.

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PIA to start new flights from 3 Pakistan cities to UAE

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced regular flights to Fujairah from three major cities in Pakistan, Khaleej Times has learnt. The national flag carrier will launch an inaugural flight to Fujairah from Lahore on October 25, while flights from Islamabad and Peshawar will start on October 27. PIA has been increasing operational capacity since the…

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PIA to start new flights from 3 Pakistan cities to UAE

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced regular flights to Fujairah from three major cities in Pakistan, Khaleej Times has learnt.
The national flag carrier will launch an inaugural flight to Fujairah from Lahore on October 25, while flights from Islamabad and Peshawar will start on October 27.
PIA has been increasing operational capacity since the UAE eased entry restrictions for residents stranded in Pakistan. In August, PIA launched flights from Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi to Ras Al Khaimah.
The national flag carrier has already been operating flights from all major Pakistani cities to different emirates of the UAE, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Airbus-320 joins PIA fleet
Meanwhile, PIA also announced that it has acquired an Airbus-320 on dry lease for six years. This is the third aircraft that will be inducted into the airline’s fleet under the present management.
“Another Airbus-320 reached Islamabad International Airport from French city of Perpignan via Egypt. The aircraft will be inducted in PIA’s fleet in the next few days,” according to a PIA spokesman.

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UAE weather: Fair skies, chance of fog formations

Slide Menus Show/Hide Left Slide Menu Show/Hide Right Slide Menu Show/Hide Top Slide Menu Show/Hide Bottom Slide Menu   Web Report/Dubai Filed on October 24, 2021 hoto by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times Light to moderate winds Skies are expected to be fair in general and partly cloudy at times on Sunday. According to the National…

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UAE weather: Fair skies, chance of fog formations

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Filed on October 24, 2021

hoto by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times

Light to moderate winds

Skies are expected to be fair in general and partly cloudy at times on Sunday.
According to the National Centre of Meteorology, it will be humid by night and Monday morning with a chance of fog or mist formations over some coastal and internal areas.
Residents can also expect light to moderate winds.
The sea will be slight in both the Oman Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

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Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic

GAZA CITY: Some hope has returned to Gaza resident Ayman Dahman upon learning that his apartment building, completely destroyed during Israeli airstrikes last May, would be reconstructed. Dahman has despaired over the past months, but Egyptian and Qatari statements regarding the acceleration of the reconstruction process have restored optimism. Dahman and his family of six lived…

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Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic

GAZA CITY: Some hope has returned to Gaza resident Ayman Dahman upon learning that his apartment building, completely destroyed during Israeli airstrikes last May, would be reconstructed.

Dahman has despaired over the past months, but Egyptian and Qatari statements regarding the acceleration of the reconstruction process have restored optimism.

Dahman and his family of six lived in a five-story residential building inhabited by 10 families, in the north of Gaza City.

After its destruction, he moved to live with his son in a small two-room apartment. Once the war ended, he relocated to a rented house, which was paid for by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

UNRWA provided $1,500 in rent allowance and $500 for the purchase of basic home furnishings for each victim who lost his or her home during the war.

Dahman said that the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Hamas-run Gaza contacted him a few days ago to prepare the engineering plans for the building in preparation for reconstruction.

On Oct. 19, the Egyptian Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip announced the launch of its first development project in Gaza: the construction of Al-Rasheed Street in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza.

At the same time, head of the Qatari Reconstruction Committee Mohammed Al-Emadi, currently in Gaza, announced that the coming days would witness an acceleration in the reconstruction process.

Hamas had received Egyptian promises during its leadership’s visit to Cairo earlier this month to speed up the pace of reconstruction and to provide trade and economic facilities at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

After the war, Egypt pledged a grant of $500 million as a contribution to reconstruction and sent engineering delegations to remove rubble in preparation.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing Naji Sarhan, said that the Egyptian grant projects include the construction of three residential cities in Beit Lahia; Jabalia, north of Gaza; and the Al-Zahra area, south of Gaza City.

According to the agreement, these three cities will include 2,000 housing units, giving priority to poor and low-income people. The construction of bridges and roads also will be supported.

Sarhan said that Egyptian officials promised — during meetings in Cairo with an official delegation from Gaza about two weeks ago — to start the reconstruction of the residential high-rises soon.

Egyptian crews had contributed to removing the rubble of damaged high-rises, as well as the construction of the first residential city in northern Gaza, he added.

The talks with the Egyptians, according to Sarhan, resulted in an agreement to operate the largest number of local contracting companies.

It was also agreed to import all the materials needed for reconstruction from the Rafah crossing to ensure the operation of local factories and to provide facilities for the movement of contractors and businessmen through the crossing.

The local authorities estimated the direct losses in the Gaza Strip during the war at $479 million.

Sarhan said that the direct losses are related to the destruction that afflicted the housing and infrastructure sector, as 1,500 housing units were destroyed, and 880 units were severely damaged. Hundreds of units were moderately and slightly damaged, with the value of reconstruction estimated at $145 million.

A great deal of damage was also caused to the infrastructure, including public buildings, roads, energy, communications and sanitation, with reconstruction estimated at $293 million.

Losses were also incurred in the sectors of economy, trade, health, education and agriculture, apart from indirect losses caused by the war.

Sarhan estimates that Gaza needs $2 billion in order to revive it after many years of wars and siege.

Palestinians see the latest Egyptian move as coming within a context of coordination with the US administration, which hopes to establish stability in Gaza.

A few days before the Hamas meetings in Cairo, Gaza reconstruction was discussed during talks between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Hamas-affiliated columnist Majed Al-Zibda believes that the recent Egyptian meeting with Hamas is consistent with the vision of the US administration, which desires to contain Gaza and ensure stability there so to avoid any deterioration that could lead to new confrontations.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported earlier that Egypt and the US were pressuring Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to work on forming a new unity government with the aim of pushing forward long-term stability and the reconstruction of Gaza.

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