WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday expected the ongoing clashes between Israelis and Palestinians would be "closing down sooner than later," while urging for restoring a sustainable calm.
"My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory," Biden told reporters at the White House.
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UNITED NATIONS -- UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, said Wednesday that the situation on the ground continues deteriorating into "the most serious escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in years," according to a UN spokesman.
Wennesland made the characterization in his briefing to the Security Council in closed-door consultations, a second time this week, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"We are very concerned by the growing civilian casualties in both Gaza ad Israel and deeply saddened by reported deaths of children in Gaza," said Dujarric.
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JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa on Wednesday reiterated its call for an African country to be included in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Alvin Botes made the remarks at a symposium to reflect on the role South Africa plays in fostering multilateralism in Africa and the rest of the world.
"South Africa calls for the transformation of the UNSC by advancing the Sirte Declaration and Ezulwini Consensus which amongst others says that Africa must have a permanent member at all levels of the UNSC," he said.
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DAMASCUS -- Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said here on Wednesday that Iran is willing to build close ties with Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad, Zarif said Iran has established some contacts with Saudi Arabia for greater cooperation.
"We certainly are ready and have always been ready for close ties with Saudi Arabia. We are sure that our Syrian brothers have always welcomed cooperation with the Arab world," he said.