Oct 01 - 07, 2001
Oil climbs, OPEC set to keep output unchanged
Volatile oil prices rebounded from their lowest
level for nearly two years Wednesday as OPEC was set to leave
production quotas unchanged.
OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna agreed to leave
oil output steady at 23.2 million barrels per day (bpd) but will delay
a formal announcement until Thursday, a senior delegate said.
Rising oil inventories in the United States and
reduced refinery processing rates in Asia underlined a tailing off in
petroleum demand, but a two-week slump of over $6 a barrel was finally
met by a wave of buying interest just above $20.
In London, Brent crude futures ended 67 cents
higher at $23.05 a barrel having earlier hit an intra-day low of
$20.70 — the lowest level since October 1999, when prices were
clambering back up from sub-$10 levels seen the winter before.
That compares to a peak of $31.05 traded in the
immediate aftermath of the suicide plane attacks on the United States
on 11 September, but few traders expected an extended recovery with
the global economic condition still grave.
"It's really too early to say if this is the
end of the downward trend, the market needs to stabilise for a few
days to bring in a bit of confidence," said one IPE trader.
Profit-taking on short positions and trade buying
helped lift the market in the last few hours of activity, traders
Oil markets have been in a steep decline for two
weeks as concerns over economic weakness have replaced fears that US
military retaliation for the September 11 attacks would cause
disruption to Middle East crude supplies.
Policy makers for the world's leading economies
were battling to bolster confidence in the global outlook on Wednesday
as consumer sentiment slid and a global ratings agency warned of
recession in the US German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder joined a
cluster of European officials who said the recent attacks on the US
would fail to undermine world economic growth.
Cyprus, Egypt, Syria to build gas pipeline
Egypt will cooperate with Syria and Cyprus to build
a gas pipeline and will join efforts to tap lucrative oil deposits off
the eastern Mediterranean island, a senior Cypriot official said
"It is agreed that Cyprus, Egypt and Syria
will move forward with a tripartite committee to pursue the important
issue of building a gas pipeline," Commerce Minister Nicos
Rolandis told reporters in Nicosia.
"The Cyprus government has decided to replace
crude oil used by the electricity authority with natural gas by
2006," he added.
The announcement was made after talks with Egypt's
Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy during a brief visit to the island to
discuss the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the sea area
between Cyprus and Egypt.
After talks with Rolandis, Fahmy said his country
would assist the search for oil by offering its expertise and
experience in discovering energy reserves.
Kenya, China to further bilateral ties
The friendly relations between Kenya and China have
gained fresh and strong momentum of development in the new century,
with both governments on Thursday pledging further efforts to enhance
Henry Kosgey, Kenyan Minister of Education, Science
and Technology, said the relations between the two countries are
strong and expanding rapidly, and the frequent exchange of visits
involving top ranking government officials and business people
underlines the bonds of solidarity and understanding between Kenya and
Addressing a ceremony here at the Chinese Embassy
marking the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic
of China, Kosgey said the enhanced partnership between the two
countries is further exemplified by what has been achieved in
bilateral trade and investment this year.
Official figures indicate that in the first half of
this year, trade volume between China and Kenya reached 68.51 million
U.S. dollars, up 21.3 per cent over the same period last year. In
2000, the bilateral trade volume totaled 137 million dollars. Chinese
Ambassador to Kenya Du Qiwen, on his side, said the Chinese government
has always attached great importance to the development of Sino-Kenyan
friendly relations of cooperation.
"China's cooperation with the wide developing
world, including Kenya, is South-South cooperation based on sincere
friendship, equality and mutual benefit," Du said, pledging that
China will continue to make its contribution to the cause of world
peace and development under new historical circumstances in the 21st
Kosgey said Kenya welcomed the decision of the
Chinese government, following the Sino-African Cooperation Forum held
in Beijing in October last year, to make available special funds to
encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in African countries including
French 'weapons grade' exports to Iraq blocked
Britain and America have accused France of mounting
a billion-pound export drive to Iraq that they fear could help Saddam
Hussein build weapons of mass destruction.
A confidential list of 6,000 contracts signed by
Baghdad, obtained by The Sunday Times, reveals that French companies
have agreed to supply Iraq with chemicals, refrigerated trucks and
sophisticated pumps that British security sources believe could be
used to make chemical weapons.
The planned exports — which under United Nations
sanctions must be approved by the security council — also include
fast computers and high-speed communications equipment that could be
employed in making missiles.
British and American diplomats are blocking 117
French contracts worth £200m containing components thought to be of
potential use in making missiles or chemical, nuclear or biological
weapons. They are among 965 contracts being challenged from the
18-month period to February 2001. All but one challenge has been
instigated by officials in London or Washington.
Iran's Khatami warns of clash of civilizations
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned on
Thursday of "evil hands'' trying to use the deadly attacks on the
United States to create a clash of civilizations, the official IRNA
news agency reported.
Iranian attitudes to a U.S.-led international
coalition against terrorism have hardened since a speech on Wednesday
by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ruled out helping
Washington in any attack on neighboring Muslim Afghanistan (news - web
"Evil hands and others who do not like to see
improvement through new thoughts in the world are trying to take
advantage of the sensitive situation and cause confrontation between
Islam and other beliefs,'' IRNA quoted Khatami as telling visiting
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani.
He did not mention Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi who unleashed a firestorm of protest by saying on Wednesday
that Western civilization was superior to that of Islam.
The reformist Khatami quickly condemned the
devastating attacks on New York and Washington two weeks ago,
prompting many in Iran and the West to believe the crisis might lead
to closer ties. Khamenei's speech appeared to close that door.
Iran has consistently expressed concern that the
latest crisis would turn into a clash of civilizations, but these
worries have been brought to the fore since Khamenei chaired an
emergency Supreme National Security Council on Tuesday.
Khamenei reacted angrily to a statement by
Secretary of State Colin Powell in which he accused Iran of supporting
''terrorism'' through its backing of Lebanon's Hizbollah and
Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The supreme leader, who has the final word on
Iranian policy, replied: "America has its hands deep in blood for
all the crimes committed by the Zionist regime.''
Khatami in turn rejected any link between the
attacks in United States and the Middle East crisis.
Israeli troops kill five Palestinians
Israeli troops killed five Palestinians in the Gaza
Strip on Thursday, rattling a fresh accord to secure a lasting truce
on the eve of the first anniversary of the uprising in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.
The latest deaths came just a day after Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
agreed to work to consolidate an elusive ceasefire.
They met under strong US pressure for a drop in
regional tensions, viewed as crucial to its bid to pull together a
global coalition against terrorism.
Muslim states plan to revive tourism industry
Muslim nations who rely on tourist dollars are
fighting a rearguard action after the New York attacks to convince the
world that Islam does not mean terrorism.
Some of the badly hit nations are getting together
on the sidelines of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) general
assembly here this week to plan their campaign.
"The crisis in the travel sector is of an
international dimension. But the image of the Middle East has been
particularly badly hit," said Taleb Rifai, Jordan's tourism
minister. "We have been doubly affected. We have got to rebuild
our image so we are preparing a collective plan," he told AFP.
The WTO's Middle East committee — which groups
Egypt, Dubai, Bahrain, Jordan and Syria — will lead the campaign to
reassure travel agencies in western nations, the main source of
UAE snaps ties with Taliban
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the
acting charge d'affaires at the embassy of Afghanistan to leave the
country within 24 hours, following the decision on Saturday to cut
diplomatic ties with the Taliban government.
Foreign ministry under-secretary Saif Saeed Bin
Sa'ed, summoned in the afternoon the Afghan diplomat Azizur Rahman, to
convey him the UAE's decision. Rahman and other members of the embassy
staff were asked to leave the country within 24 hours.
According to protocol, the Afghan embassy is
regarded closed from Saturday.
A volatile Saudi stock market slumped a further 5.6
per cent in the week closing Thursday, unnerved by fears of US
retaliatory strikes for the September 11 terror attacks on New York
The NCFEI all-shares index dropped to 2,278.75
points from 2,415.03 the previous Thursday, Bakheet Financial Advisors (BFA) reported.
Beirut International Film Festival 2001
With the perplexing film "No Man's Land"
by Bosnian director Danis Tanovic ushering in this year's Fourth
Beirut Film Festival, the stage has been set for the current state of
affairs that illustrates life for many people in the 21st century. The
Festival is slated to take place from 3-10 October at various venues
The film, winner of the Best Script Award at the
Cannes Film Festival 2001, takes place in the heart of war-torn Bosnia
in 1993, and depicts the story of two soldiers, one Bosnian and one
Serbian whose lives, separated by the frontline with the onset of the
war, are brought together by circumstance or fate.
Russia to sell Mig-29 fighter jets to Yemen
Russia is to deliver Mig-29 fighters to Yemen in a
300 million dollar deal, the business daily Vedomosti reported
Wednesday, quoting sources in the Russian presidency.
Contacted by AFP, the Kremlin and the Mig aircraft
constructor refused to comment.
The deal for the 15 fighter planes was signed
shortly before or just after the September 11 terror attacks on the
United States, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified presidential
US strike may cause human catastrophe
The United Arab Emirates' defence minister urged
the United States on Wednesday to think very carefully before
attacking Afghanistan, saying a strike could trigger a "human
catastrophe" affecting millions.
"I call on the United States to pause for
reflection and give chance to diplomacy and all legal means before it
resorts to military action, which could have grave repercussions on
world peace and security," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
said in a statement.
He said Washington should also provide decisive
evidence that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement were involved in
the terror attacks on New York and Washington.
The United States believes Afghanistan is
sheltering Osama Bin Laden, its alleged suspect in the September 11
Saudi orders Afghan diplomats out of the country
The Saudi government, which Tuesday severed its
diplomatic relations with Afghanistan's Taliban regime, gave Afghan
diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, the foreign ministry said.
"Tuesday night, the foreign ministry summoned
the second secretary of the Afghan embassy in Riyadh, Mulawi Mutih
Allah Khalawi, to inform him of the kingdom's decision to break off
diplomatic relations, and asked for the diplomats to leave in 48
hours," a ministry statement said.
Islamic banks deny financing terrorism
Islamic banks and financial institutions are not
financing terrorism, the Bahrain-based General Council for Islamic
Banks And Financial Institutions (IBFI) said Monday.
"All Islamic banks operate in respectable
countries that are under the control of the central banks, and
accusations that they finance terrorist activities does not even merit
a response," IBFI president Saleh Kamel told a press conference
"Accusations against Islamic banks and
financial institutions come within the campaign launched against
Islam" in the aftermath of the devastating September 11 terror
attacks in the United States, Kamel said.
"There are huge Arab investments, including
some by Islamic financial institutions in the West, and I don't
believe these funds are in danger," he added.
Saudi Arabia bars cargo of Australian offal
A ship carrying 16 containers of Australian offal
has been barred from Saudi Arabia on health grounds, an Australian
trade spokesman said on Wednesday.
The vessel carrying the offal worth A$3 million
($1.5 million) was banned from Saudi ports and has been left waiting
Saudi Arabia is Australia's largest Middle Eastern
export market, taking A$2.3 billion in Australian exports in 2000.
Exports of offal — the edible organs of animals,
such as kidneys or liver — to Saudi Arabia are worth A$30 million a
Australia's largest offal exporter, Fletchers
International, which shipped the containers, said no good reason was
Cairo shares end weak
Cairo shares, led by blue-chips, closed lower for
the fourth consecutive session on Tuesday on concerns over possible
U.S. retaliation for terror attacks, but a rebound in U.S. markets
cushioned the decline, traders said.
The benchmark Hermes index closed down 70.82
points, or 1.2 per cent, at 5,817.27 points, off a day low of
5,764.93. The broader CIBC index ended 0.04 points lower, or 0.1 per
cent, at 67.09 points.
Egypt offers airlines $5b insurance guarantees
The Egyptian government has offered locally
registered airlines at least $5 billion in war insurance guarantees so
they will avoid being grounded, an official at Egypt's flag carrier
EgyptAir said on Tuesday.
"The government offered more than $5 billion
in guarantees for four main companies and other smaller ones
registered in Egypt on Monday," said the official, who asked not
to be named.
Insurance companies, bracing for potential record
payouts following the September 11 suicide attacks in the United
States, want to cap airlines' third-party war and terrorism insurance
at $50 million from Tuesday.
EgyptAir, whose assets value about $13 billion,
received liability guarantees of $1.2 billion, the official added.
Truce brings Mid-east talks
Urged on by the US, Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres held long-awaited
truce talks aimed at ending a year of fighting.
Last night, Mr Arafat and Mr Peres issued a brief
statement at Gaza International Airport, saying they would meet again
in a week.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell had called Mr
Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon repeatedly this week,
urging them to go ahead with the talks.
Emirates gets $2b guarantee
Emirates airlines said on Tuesday it has received a
$2 billion war insurance guarantee from the Dubai government to
prevent any interruption to its operations following the suicide
attacks in the United States.
"The government of Dubai (which owns the
airline) placed the $2 billion liability guarantee on Monday
night," said Mike Simon, director of corporate communications at
Kuwait stock market pursues upward trend
The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) went up for a
second day Monday, closing 1.56 per cent higher in what analysts
described as increased investor confidence in the local political
The KSE index closed at 1656.2 points, up 25.5
points from Sunday when the index also gained 10.1 points.
Kingdom joins coalition
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that
Saudi Arabia's joining of the anti-terror coalition reflected its
stand on the US-led campaign to fight terrorism. Speaking to reporters
after meeting with an EU delegation, he said a Washington Post report
that Riyadh had expressed reservations on the use of its air base for
the campaign was not true.