CAIRO – Egypt’s bickering government and opposition need to overcome their differences to create a sense of political and economic viability if the country is to thrive as a democracy, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.
In meetings with Egypt’s foreign minister and opposition politicians, Kerry said an agreement on economic reforms to seal a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan package was critical. Closing the IMF deal also will unlock significant U.S. assistance promised by President Obama last year.
But Kerry’s message to the liberal and secular opposition may have been blunted, as only six of the 11 guests invited by the U.S. Embassy turned up to see the top U.S. diplomat at a group meeting, and three said they still intend to boycott the April polls, according to participants.
Allies accidentally kill 2 Afghan boys
Allied forces accidentally killed two Afghan boys during an operation in southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition said Saturday.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, offered his personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed and said the coalition takes full responsibility for the deaths.
A statement issued by the coalition says the boys were killed Thursday when coalition forces fired at what they thought were insurgent forces in the Shahid-e Hasas district of Uruzgan province.
Ethnic spite sparks riots in Macedonia
Violent ethnic riots rattled Macedonia’s capital, culminating Saturday with hundreds raging through the city center, clashing with police, overturning cars and attacking a bus station. At least 22 people were injured, 13 of them police officers.
Ethnic Macedonians kicked off the protests in Skopje on Friday, angry at the appointment of an ethnic Albanian defense minister, a former rebel commander during the 2001 conflict that pitted the country’s two main ethnic groups against each other.
Ethnic Albanians staged a counter-protest Saturday, claiming that two Albanians were beaten and an Albanian flag burned Friday by ethnic Macedonians.
Chad claims troops killed key terrorist
Chad’s military chief announced late Saturday that his troops deployed in northern Mali had killed Moktar Belmoktar, the terrorist who orchestrated the attack on a natural gas plant in Algeria that left 36 foreigners dead.
Local officials in Kidal, the northern town being used as the base for the military operation, cast doubt on the assertion, saying Chadian officials are attempting to score a PR victory to make up for the significant losses they have suffered in recent days.
Known as the one-eyed, Belmoktar’s profile soared after the mid-January attack and mass hostage-taking on a huge Algerian gas plant.
His purported death comes a day after Chad’s president said his troops had killed Abou Zeid, the other main al-Qaida commander operating in northern Mali.