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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he leaves a campaign rally, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Altoona, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he leaves a campaign rally, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Altoona, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On the national stage, the Trump train stalls

Saudi says world has failed Gaza • Abbas says only US can stop Rafah ‘disaster’

RIYADH: HH the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, along with an accompanying official delegation, visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday to participate in the World Economic Forum special meeting hosted by Riyadh. On the sidelines of the summit, HH the Amir met Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Saudi Arabia said the international community has failed Gaza and reiterated its call for a Palestinian state at the summit attended by a host of mediators.

“The situation in Gaza obviously is a catastrophe by every measure — humanitarian, but also a complete failing of the existing political system to deal with that crisis,” Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said during the first day of the forum. Only “a credible, irreversible path to a Palestinian state” will prevent the world from confronting “this same situation two, three, four years down the line,” he said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Palestinian leaders and high-ranking officials from other countries trying to broker a ceasefire between the Zionist entity and Hamas are attending the summit in Riyadh, capital of the world’s biggest crude oil exporter.

The Zionist entity’s offensive has killed at least 34,454 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry. Speaking in Riyadh, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the United States “is the only country capable” of preventing the Zionist entity’s long-feared invasion of Rafah city in southern Gaza. “We appeal to the United States of America to ask (the Zionist entity) to stop the Rafah operation,” he said, warning it would harm and displace civilians, and be “the biggest disaster in the history of the Palestinian people”.

Earlier Sunday, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan called for regional “stability”, warning of the effects of the war on global economic sentiment. “I think cool-headed countries and leaders and people need to prevail,” Jadaan said. Diplomatic efforts to reach a long sought-after truce and hostage-release deal in Gaza appeared to intensify, as Hamas said it would respond to the Zionist entity’s latest proposal on Monday.

WEF president Borge Brende said Saturday there was “some new momentum now in the talks around the hostages, and also for... a possible way out of the impasse we are faced with in Gaza”. The Zionist entity is not taking part in the summit. The US State Department said Blinken will “discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza that secures the release of hostages”.

Prince Faisal said any reconstruction plan for Gaza would need to be accompanied by a durable political solution to the conflict. “This idea that we can talk about half measures and to discuss, ‘Well where are the 2.5 million people of Gaza going to go?’ without addressing how we make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again, I think that’s patently ridiculous,” he said. “And anybody who tries to take that approach I think is sincerely misguided.”

From the outset Saudi Arabia has worked with other regional and global powers to try to contain the war in Gaza and avoid the type of conflagration that could derail its ambitious economic reform agenda known as Vision 2030. The kingdom also remains in talks about a landmark deal under which it would recognize the Zionist entity for the first time while strengthening its security partnership with Washington, though analysts say the war has made it more difficult.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest shrines in Islam, is trying to open up to the world, luring business leaders and non-religious tourists. Hosting international events such as the WEF meeting allows it to showcase social changes such as reintroducing cinemas and lifting a ban on women driving. Saudi Arabia is projecting budget deficits through 2026, and GDP growth was nearly flat last year after several oil production cuts. Jadaan stressed Sunday that non-oil GDP growth was “very healthy” at 4.4 percent and that “Vision 2030 is about, actually, the non-oil GDP”. – Agencies

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