Putin aide confirms Trump project e-mail
MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed yesterday he had received an e-mail in January last year from an adviser to Mr Donald Trump about a Moscow real estate project, but said he had neither replied nor discussed it with Mr Putin.
The Washington Post reported this week that Mr Michael Cohen, one of the US President's closest business advisers, had e-mailed Mr Peskov seeking his help in advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow.
The report comes amid investigations by an independent special counsel and congressional committees into whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Moscow to influence the 2016 US election.
Lift Gaza blockade, UN chief urges
RAMALLAH • United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted as he visited the Palestinian enclave, enduring "one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises" he had seen.
The secretary-general's comments came yesterday as he wrapped up his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories since taking office.
Repeatedly throughout the visit, he has called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long the focus of international diplomacy but currently under threat.
Egypt pushes birth control to slow growth
CAIRO • Egypt is pushing to educate people in rural areas on birth control and family planning in a bid to slow a population growth rate that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said poses a threat to national development. The country is already the most populous in the Arab world with 93 million citizens and is set to grow to 128 million by 2030 if fertility rates of 4.0 births per thousand women continue, according to government figures.
Egypt's health minister last month started Operation Lifeline, a strategy to reduce the birth rate to 2.4 and save the government up to 200 billion Egyptian pounds (S$15.4 billion) by 2030.