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President Aoun affirms Lebanon’s stability during meeting with Cuban minister

Beirut � Lebanese President Michel Aoun affirmed the stable security situation in his country, stressing that Lebanon faced the threat of terrorism on the border with Syria.

"Lebanon regained its national strength and unity after the recent presidential elections and the formation of the government," President Aoun told visiting Cuban First Deputy Foreign Minister Marcelino Gonzalez in Beirut on Wednesday.

He emphasized that the country was able to maintain its security and stability in the face of two permanent threats, namely the threat of terrorism on the eastern border and the Israeli threat on the southern border.

According to Lebanon's state-run National News Agency (NNA), the visiting official handed over a message to President Aoun from his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, in which he underscored the bilateral ties between Lebanon and Cuba and the need to bolster them on all levels.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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President Trump to meet Russian FM Lavrov today

Washington � US President Donald Trump will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House on Wednesday to discuss Syria and a wide range of international issues, Reuters reported quoting a senior US official.

It will be the highest-level contact between Trump and the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin since Trump took office on January 20.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agenda of the meeting would be Syria as well as US-Russian relations and other global issues.

Relations deteriorated between the United States and Russia after US air strikes against a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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Poll: East Europeans resentful about taking in Syrian refugees

Budapest - In the majority of Eastern European countries, at least half of the population does not want to offer asylum to even a limited number of Syrian refugees, a Gallup poll has revealed, although the aversion is not as strong in predominantly Muslim nations.

Syria remains one of most significant sources of people seeking asylum in Europe, even after the flow shrunk after the EU Struck a deal with Turkey to hold the refugees off. However, even after the agreement was sealed, the public in Eastern European countries, both EU members and non-members alike, are largely opposed to the idea of welcoming refugees from the war-torn state.

According to a Gallop opinion poll published on Friday, at least half of the populations of nine out of the 14 countries surveyed, including the self-proclaimed nation of Kosovo, do not want even a limited number of Syrians sheltered next to them. Hungary shows the most distaste for the idea, with 70 percent of respondents objecting, and just 22 agreeing to only a limited number of refugees.

Although the majority of the populations of Serbia, Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo appear more welcoming, the idea of giving refugees unrestricted access to asylum didn't hit double-digit approval percentage in any of those countries either.

Religion seems to be a big factor in people's willingness to accept refugees from the predominantly Muslim Middle Eastern country. People identifying as Muslims expressed a more positive attitude towards asylum seekers, with eight percent willing to offer unrestricted access to them and only 36 percent objecting to allowing any in. On the other hand, 63 percent of self-identified atheists or secular people said no refugees should be allowed in, RT reported.

In Kosovo, which as a largely Muslim population, just 38 percent of respondents said no Syrians should be given asylum.

Gallop noted that the governments of four nations that strongly object to taking in refugees � Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have openly opposed an EU plan to redistribute asylum seekers among union members. The negative attitude was also stronger in the Balkan countries that the refugees traveled through on their way north to richer European nations during the peak of the crisis, prompting some to erect border fences to prevent them from entering.

Interestingly, Greece, which serves as an entry point for asylum seekers coming from Turkey, was largely divided on the issue, with 47 percent of respondents saying they were fine with granting asylum to a limited number of Syrians, and as many wanting to bar them completely.

The new poll results come as some EU nations are considering whether to relax border controls between them that were put in place in 2015 in response to the crisis. EU rules only allow such measures to be imposed temporarily, but some nations like Austria want to keep them even after the deadline expires.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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Jordanian King, US official discuss strategic relations

Amman � Jordanian King Abdullah on Saturday received US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and discussed with him the strategic relations between the two countries and ways to strengthen them, especially in security areas, Petra reported.

The meeting also tackled regional and international efforts to combat terrorism, within a holistic strategy, emphasizing the importance of intensifying coordination and cooperation among all states concerned, in order to counter this danger, which is threatening global security and peace.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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ISESCO, CAERC sign cooperation agreement in Baku

Baku (INNA) � The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communications (CAERC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Baku, Azerbaijan on Saturday.

The MoU was signed by ISESCO Director General Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri and CAERC Executive Director Vusal Gasimli.

The agreement is aimed at enhancing cooperation among member states and exchanging experiences in the development of electronic services, as well as developing relevant national laws and legislations among member states. It also aims to develop digital commerce among ISESCO countries in the region.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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4,000-year-old model garden discovered in Egypt

Cairo � Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a nearly 4,000-year-old model garden outside a tomb in the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes, the Antiquities Ministry said on Wednesday.

The discovery was made by a Spanish team in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis across the Nile from the modern-day city of Luxor, the ministry said.

The three meter by two metre garden consists of equally divided square plots each about 30 centimeters across. It was found in an open courtyard outside a Middle Kingdom (2050 to 1800 BC) tomb.

The garden "probably had a symbolic meaning and must have played a role in the funerary rites," the ministry cited the head of the Spanish team, Jose Galan, as saying. "The like has never been found in ancient Thebes."

The ministry's head of ancient Egyptian antiquities Mahmoud Afifi said the tiny square plots seem to have each contained different species of plants and flowers. "In the middle there are two elevated spots for a small tree or bush," he said, adding: "At one of the corners, the root and the trunk of a 4,000-year-old small tree have been preserved to a height of 30 centimeters. Next to it, a bowl was found containing dates and other fruits, which could have been presented as an offering.

In ancient Egypt, the dead were traditionally surrounded by objects they enjoyed in life, so they could continue to enjoy them in the afterlife.

The team also discovered a small mud-brick temple attached to the tomb containing three stone slabs, one of which contained a dedication to the Egyptian gods Montu, Ptah, Sokar and Osiris.

The Draa Abul Naga necropolis is located near the famed Valley of the kings, where many of the pharaohs, including Tutankhamun, were buried.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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