Around the world on 19 April 2021
Diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran could be restored after four years of frosty silence, with senior Saudi and Iranian officials reportedly sitting down for direct talks, the Financial Times reports, citing unnamed officials familiar with the negotiations. The meetings come as Washington, which has been distancing itself from Saudi Arabia, pressured the kingdom to end its military campaign against Houthi rebels and rejoin Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement. The two sides are scheduled to meet again next week, although Saudi officials have denied engaging in negotiations with Iran.
Also worth knowing this morning:
- Syrians will head to the polls on 26 May in a presidential election that is widely expected to keep President Bashar Al Assad in power for a third term, with nominations for the election set to close in 11 days, Reuters reported.
- Israel and Greece signed their largest-ever defense procurement agreement which will see an Israeli defense electronics company operate a training center for the Hellenic Air Force in a USD 1.65 bn contract, the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement yesterday.
- US President Joe Biden is planning to lift his predecessor’s historically low cap on refugee admissions, pledging to go beyond his own previously announced limit and a policy to “regulate” the process, after facing blowback from lawmakers and aid groups, Reuters reports. A “final, increased” cap for the rest of the fiscal year will be set on 15 May, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.