Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1297, (26 May - 1 June 2016)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1297, (26 May - 1 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Historic visit

AL-AZHAR’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb arrived on Tuesday in Paris where he met French President François Hollande to discuss efforts to fight extremism and terrorism.

The grand imam is also set to attend the second forum of eastern and western elders, where he will be addressing Europeans and Muslims around the world, stressing the importance of dialogue and building trust between religions and cultures.

Al-Tayeb arrived in the French capital following a historic meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Monday. The unprecedented meeting of the two religious leaders signalled the renewal of relations between Al-Azhar and the Vatican following five years of suspended relations.

Pope Francis on Monday embraced the grand imam, signalling the strength of Catholic-Muslim ties. Al-Azhar froze talks with the Vatican to protest comments by then Pope Benedict XVI.

As Al-Tayeb arrived for his audience in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said that the fact that they were meeting at all was significant.

“The meeting is the message,” Pope Francis told the imam. The pope gave Al-Tayeb a copy of his environmental encyclical and a peace medal.

After the audience, Al-Tayeb was scheduled to travel to Paris to open a Muslim-Catholic conference on East-West relations.

The Vatican’s relations with Islam hit several bumps during Benedict’s papacy. He outraged Muslims with a 2006 speech quoting a Byzantine emperor as saying some of the Prophet Mohamed’s teachings were “evil and inhuman”.

Al-Tayeb, however, sent a message of congratulations to Pope Francis upon his 2013 election and said he hoped for renewed cooperation.

Unprecedented UNSC, AL gathering

REPRESENTATIVES of the 15 member states of the UN Security Council (UNSC) held an unprecedented consultative meeting with delegations of Arab League states to discuss the Palestinian issue, the Middle East peace process, updates on the situation in both Libya and Somalia, as well as the challenges posed by the surging number of refugees, displaced persons and illegal immigrants.

The UNSC mission was led by the representative of Egypt to the UN and current president of the UNSC, Ambassador Amr Abul Atta, who arrived in Cairo from the Kenyan capital Nairobi after a quick visit to Somalia to discuss preparations for elections there in August and to lend support to the process.

After a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi, the joint consultative meeting between delegations of the two entities was held under the co-chairmanship of Egypt as president of the UNSC and Bahrain, which chairs the current Arab League session.

The meeting opened with a keynote address in which Al-Arabi stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and coordination between the world organisation and the Arab League on various issues, particularly those related to international peace and security, and stability in the Arab region and around the world.

Many representatives from both sides urged that such consultative meetings become regular, with some diplomats calling for converting them into a fixed mechanism between the two organisations.

The Arab League chief also stressed the need to reconsider the way the SC operates in order to become better able to shoulder responsibilities entrusted to it in dealing with crises that threaten international peace and security and resolving disputes by peaceful means. He pointed out the significant role played by regional organisations in this regard, which he said was also underlined in the charters of both the UN and AL.

Following the league’s meeting, the Security Council mission met Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri and top aides. Their talks revolved around the Palestinian issue, developments in both Libya and Somalia, and the conflict in Syria.

Shoukri meets UN candidate Clark

FOREIGN Minister Sameh Shoukri met Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand, who is running for the post of UN secretary-general.

During the meeting, at the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, Clark presented her election programme and vision about the future of the UN. Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Clark, who is currently head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), expressed a desire to hear what Egypt wants from the new secretary-general, not only because Egypt is a non-permanent member of the SC but also because of the status that Cairo has at the regional and international levels.

Abu Zeid added that at the meeting Shoukri underlined the importance of the independence of the international organisation and the necessity of representing all the member states, especially developing countries and those suffering from crises.

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