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Indonesia seeks closer ties with Nigeria

The Punch Newspaper reported that the Republic of Indonesia is seeking closer diplomatic ties with Nigeria as it marks its 67th independence anniversary.

The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Sudirman Haseng, said the country was poised towards building on the long-standing mutually beneficial relations between the two countries.

Haseng identified agriculture, transportation, energy, anti-corruption war, culture and technology as key priority areas of cooperation.

This was contained in a statement by the Indonesia Embassy in Nigeria on Thursday.

He said, “Nigeria and Indonesia have a lot of things in common. We are both members of the Developing Eight, Non-Aligned Movement, United Nations and other international organizations.

“But there is a need for us to raise the stakes in terms of cooperation in various areas so that we can learn from each other and achieve rapid socio-economic development for the benefit of citizens of both countries.”

Haseng said trade volume between the two countries increased by 60 percent between 2010 and 2011 and attributed the increase to Indonesia’s improved import of leather, cocoa and petroleum products from Nigeria.

He said, “Indonesia had always had the interest to partner with Nigeria in the area of trade and investment. Trade volume between the two countries rose from $1.24bn in 2010 to $2bn in 2011 and we project that it increases to $2.5bn in 2012.”

While lauding Nigeria’s friendly climate for foreign investment, Haseng said the 16 Indonesian companies in Nigeria were happy doing business in the country.

He added that Indonesian Embassy would be organising agricultural tour for Nigerians to visit the country in order to take a cue from its experience on agricultural development.

He said, “In 2010 Nigeria and Indonesia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral joint commission which was followed by an MOU on agricultural cooperation.

“In line with Nigeria’s resolve to develop the agricultural sector,we are organising a training programme such that Nigerians can travel to Indonesia to learn and develop their agricultural skills.” 

Islamist group warns Egypt against military crackdown

An Islamist militant group operating in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that borders Israel has warned the Egyptian army that a military crackdown in the area would force it to fight back.

The army has been hunting militants in the Sinai desert since an attack last week on Egyptian border guards that killed 16 soldiers. Egypt blamed the attack on Islamist militants.

The army operation is the biggest in almost three decades in the tense border region where troop and army vehicle movements are strictly limited under the terms of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

“We have never raised our weapons against the Egyptian army,” the Salafi Jihadi, one of the biggest militant groups in the Sinai, said in a statement late on Wednesday. “So stop the bloodshed or else you will be dragging us into a battle that is not ours,” the group said, addressing the Egyptian army.

The group, one of several operating in Sinai, denied involvement in the attack on Egyptian border guards and said its true fight was with the “Zionist enemy” Israel.

Security officials said 20 militants were killed by the Egyptian army on the first day of the Sinai sweep on August 8.

The conflict is an early test for President Mohamed Mursi – elected in June following the overthrow last year of Hosni Mubarak – to prove he can rein in militants on the border with Israel.

Moderates fear militant Salafists in Gaza and Sinai are joining forces, creating an environment ripe for al Qaeda were it to seek a base to use against Israel or the political Islam of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, where Mursi has his ideological roots.

Two explosions shook the southern Israeli city of Eilat, near Egypt, late on Wednesday. The Israeli military said it suspected the explosions were a cross-border rocket attack although their searches did not provide any evidence.

Another militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes, claimed responsibility on Thursday, saying it “launched two Grad rockets on Umm al-Rashrash city (Eilat) on Wednesday night”.

The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdes (The Followers of Jerusalem) last month claimed responsibility for attacks on Sinai’s gas pipeline that delivers gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan.

Disorder has spread in North Sinai, a region with many guns and much resentment over neglect by Cairo.

Bedouin tribes now control some areas that were cleared by Egyptian police during last year’s uprising against Mubarak, who had worked closely with Israel to secure the border region.

Mursi, who took office in June, has promised to restore stability.

Profits from the country’s enormous mineral resources are widely seen as helping fuel ethnic conflict in DR Congo, while most of the population remains in poverty

Dozens die in Congo mine collapse

At least 60 miners have been killed after a shaft collapsed in a gold mine in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said.

The miners were about 100m underground when the accident happened in Orientale province on Monday, local media says.

Rescue efforts were hampered as crews had difficulty reaching the mine, which lies in a jungle area where armed groups operate, a local official said.

Such accidents are common in DR Congo, where mines are often unregulated.

Passenger traffic rises at airport ahead of Sallah

The domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and the General Aviation Terminal were a beehive Thursday (Aug. 16). Passengers, many of who are travelling to celebrate Eid-El-Fitri outside Lagos, thronged the airport for flights.

At the domestic terminal the passengers were seen on long queues waiting to board their flights. Others came to buy tickets in advance.

A passenger, Alhaji Zaha Sanusi, said he just returned from Saudi Arabia where he performed the lesser hajj, adding that he returned to celebrate Eid-El-Fitri with  his family.

He said he took Emirate flight while coming from Saudi Arabia and was preparing to take another flight to Kano for 2:00pm with IRS airline.

Sanusi said: “I went for the lesser hajj in Saudi Arabia and now I am back in the country because I want to celebrate Eid-El-Fitri with my family.”

Another passenger, Mr. Jones Otoh, who was travelling to Benin with Aero Airlines, said he was surprised at the traffic at the airport.

“Today seems to be very busy as it is a bit difficult because of the traffic at the airport. I am travelling to Benin City not necessarily for the Muslim celebration because it is obvious that the passenger traffic today is high” he said.

There has been considerable decline in passenger traffic on all domestic routes, in recent time following the June 3 Dana aircrash.

Airlines that currently fly in Nigeria include Arik Air, Aero Airlines, IRS Airlines and Associated Aviation as well as Overland Airways.

Uwalaka Temple U.B Intern Reporter

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