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A vendor uses her phone in her stall at the annual book fair in Hong Kong on July 20, 2016. Hong Kong's feisty publishing industry vowed to take on China by selling books critical of Beijing, despite the disappearances of five city booksellers, as a major annual book fair began on July 20. / AFP / Anthony WALLACE
A vendor uses her phone in her stall at the annual book fair in Hong Kong on July 20, 2016. Hong Kong's feisty publishing industry vowed to take on China by selling books critical of Beijing, despite the disappearances of five city booksellers, as a major annual book fair began on July 20. / AFP / Anthony WALLACE

Publishers take on China at Hong Kong book fair - Small book publishers determined to fight

Southeast Asian countries express concern on Mideast escalating situation

RIYADH: Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jasem Al-Budaiwi, said Monday that the second ministerial meeting of the strategic dialogue between the GCC and Central Asian countries aims to strengthen the foundation of cooperation between the two sides. This came during his speech at the meeting, held in the Uzbekistan capital, Tashkent, with the participation of the Cooperation Council and the foreign ministers of the foreign ministers of the Central Asian countries.

In his speech, Al-Budaiwi noted the multiple reasons for the importance of this meeting, as he stated that there are two main reasons that distinguish this joint ministerial meeting and make it among the most important and accurate meetings. The first reason is that it is the first of its kind, following the historic summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in July 2023, which brought together the leaders of the GCC countries and the leaders of the Central Asian countries to establish the frameworks for future cooperation between both sides.

He added that the second reason is the unprecedented developments and state of uncertainty in many political, economic, security, and even social matters and issues that the international community is facing, which require intensifying communication and coordination in an effort to resolve these issues. Al-Budaiwi explained that the joint cooperation action plan for the period 2023–2027 was approved during the meeting, which includes strengthening cooperation in various fields, such as political and security dialogue, economic, trade, and investment cooperation, as well as cooperation in the fields of education, health, culture, media, youth, and sports.

He also highlighted the direction of the GCC partnership with the countries of Central Asia, which includes ensuring joint success, establishing effective partnerships, enhancing exchange and communication between peoples, opening markets and elevating economic activities, working to save energy and its flow, and striving towards strengthening the digital economy.

Escalating situation

In another development, the ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia expressed on Monday their deep concern for continuous escalations between Iran and Zionists after the former’s retaliatory strikes against the latter. In a statement Monday, the Philippine Foreign Ministry urged all parties to de-escalate the situation and find a peaceful solution, calling on all countries to comply with international law, while the Singaporean Foreign Affairs Ministry condemned the Iranian strikes, noting that they would further escalate the tension in the region.

The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the UN Security Council to act immediately to de-escalate tensions and continue working toward lasting peace in the Middle East. The Southeast Asian countries called on all parties to exercise the utmost restraint, avoid escalatory actions, and focus on ensuring an immediate ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, stressing the need for an immediate, safe, and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to affected civilians in Gaza. Last Saturday night, Iran launched a massive attack with marches and missiles on targets inside Zionist entity in response to the bombing of the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital, Damascus. — KUNA

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