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Saudi opens border for Qatari hajj pilgrims

F.P. Report

RIYADH: King Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered the officials reopened the border with Qatar for the hajj pilgrims and allow them carry out their religious rituals in Mecca.

The decision is the seems to be the first step for normalizing the tension between the Arab countries when it was disturb by disconnecting diplomatic ties with Qatar by Saudi Arabi, Eqypt, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates on June 5 of this year.

The decision of opening the border was came surface when the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman received an envoy from Qatar, as per the local Saudi media.

The Saudi King Salman not only open the border for the pilgrims but also ordered to sent private jets of Saudi airline to Doha airport and bring all Qatari pilgrims on his expenses.

Qatar accused Saudi Arabia last month for jeopardizing the pilgrimage to Mecca by refusing to guarantee their pilgrims security.

Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies closed the diplomatic ties, trade and imposed economic sanction against Qatar and accusing Doha for supporting terrorist and becoming close to Iran.

However, Qatar denied the charges and accused that its neighbors wants to destroy its economy and trying to maintain their supremacy in the region.


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Sierra Leone flood: More than 600 people still missing

F.P. Report

SIERRA LEONE: Spokesperson of the President told media persons that more than 600 people were still missing when the flood and mud sliding destroyed parts of the Sierra Leone capital.

The government has announced seven days mourning and pleading for the urgent support from international community. As per the officials figures 400 persons were died after the mudslide in the Regent area and floods in the Freetown area on Monday.

Presidential spokesman, Abdulai Baraytay added that rescue workers still recovering the bodies from the mud and rubble and mass burial of victims were planned on Thursday.

A Red Cross official, Abu Bakar Tarawallie said on the matter that rescue workers were trying to rescue the victims but they were racing against time and the recent flood also increase the risk of spreading the disease in the area.

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India, China troops in high-altitude clash

SRINAGAR (AFP): Indian and Chinese troops clashed briefly on a disputed area of land in the Himalayas, officials said Wednesday, exacerbating tensions during a months-long stand-off between the two armies.

Chinese troops threw stones at Indian soldiers near Pangong Lake, a major tourist attraction in the picturesque mountain region of Ladakh on Tuesday, an Indian defence official said. He said Chinese soldiers had twice tried to enter the Indian territory but had been pushed back.

“There was a minor incident. There was some stone pelting from the Chinese side but the situation was quickly brought under control,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity. The brief confrontation was resolved after Indian and Chinese sides retreated to their respective positions, he added.

Police in occupied Kashmir, where Ladakh is located, said clashes were relatively common along the de facto border known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “These things happen every summer but this one was slightly prolonged and more serious but no weapons were used,” a police source in Srinagar told AFP.

The Pangong lake area lies over 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) high on the Tibetan plateau. The latest incident comes amid an ongoing dispute between the two sides over a strategic Himalayan plateau thousands of kilometres away where hundreds of Indian and Chinese soldiers have been facing off against each other for more than two months.

The border trouble began in June when Chinese soldiers started to extend a road through the Doklam territory — known as “Donglang” in Chinese. The area is disputed between China and Bhutan.

India, a close ally of Bhutan, then deployed troops to stop the construction project, prompting Beijing to accuse India of trespassing on Chinese soil. China has said India must withdraw its troops before any proper negotiation takes place. India said both sides should withdraw their forces together.

The plateau is strategically significant as it gives China access to the so-called “chicken’s neck” — a thin strip of land connecting India’s northeastern states with the rest of the country.

Indian media said the Chinese army had this year declined to participate in ceremonial meetings usually held to mark Independence Day on Tuesday. It was the first time since 2005 that the meetings were not held.

The two nuclear-armed neighbours fought a brief war in 1962 in India’s border state of Arunachal Pradesh. Tensions along the LAC rose in 2014 when Chinese soldiers moved into territory claimed by India, sparking a two-week military stand-off that overshadowed a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping.

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Dozens killed, injured in three suicide attacks in Nigeria

F.P. Report

NIGERIA: Dozens of people were killed and many others injured in three suicide bomb attacks including a female, near

Northern city Maiduguri and the attacks were carried out by Boko Haram.

The local official told media person that a female suicide bomber blew herself in a crowded place at market in Northeast Nigeria on Tuesday and killed at least 27 people and adding that it was hallmark attack of Boko Haram.

Similarly, two more suicide bombers blew themselves at the gate of refugee camp in result more than 30 killed and dozens of injured, the officials said that 45 injured people were in critical conditions.

The officials told that at least 83 persons were injured in three suicide attacks and more than 50 were killed and the attacks were carried out by Boko Haram.

Nigerian Military take back the large area from the armed group last year but now they were attacking since June with renewed energy and since they have killed more than 143 innocent people before the three suicide attacks on Tuesday.

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Flood kills 56 in India

F.P. Report

BIHAR: Anirudh Kumar, Additional Secretary of the State Disaster Management Department told media that at least 56 persons were died in the recent flood which hit the northern Indian State of Bihar since last Sunday and affected more than 6 million populations.

He added that two millions were shifted to safe places and vacated their homes and the rescue force airlift these people.

Similarly, 15 persons were also killed in Assam because of recent flooding in the area while the government meteorlogical department predicted more rain on Wednesday.

Monsoon rains was started in June and continue normally it continued till September and it is very important for farmers in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh but cause loss of life and property damage every year.

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13000 Chinese Muslims go for hajj, praise government’s support

BEIJING (AFP): Around 13000 Chinese Muslims have gone to Saudi Arabia this year to perform Haj, it was officially stated here on Tuesday.

The China Islamic Association, a national Muslim organization under the supervision of the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) was engaged in organizing the Chinese pilgrims’ visits. It highly praised the government’s support, making the Hajj convenient for the Chinese Muslims.

As overseas travel becomes increasingly convenient and affordable for ordinary Chinese, demand is growing among the Muslim community, especially in the western regions of the country, the Association said. China has official policies to manage the hajj and all potential Chinese pilgrims to Mecca have to first go through an application process.

First, one must go to the management committee of a local mosque to acquire proof of one’s Muslim identity, which should then be submitted to the local Islamic Association. Once approved by the association, the potential pilgrims have to have their health checked to ensure they are up to taking the long journey. Next, the wannabe hajji must pay travel fees to the association and then receive training.

According to hajj application websites, each pilgrim must pay a bit more than 40,000 yuan ($5,998) in advance to cover the entire trip including their transport, meals, religious garments and insurance.

Anything that’s left over, which usually amounts to a few hundred yuan, is given back to the hajji after their return to China and the balance sheet for each year is publicized on each provincial Islamic Association’s website. The training they receive includes China’s hajj policies and regulations, discipline related to taking a trip abroad, and religious knowledge about the hajj.

“The aim of the training is to allow the pilgrims to understand how their journey is being organized and to enhance their sense of unity to ensure they have a safe and fruitful hajj,” the hajj department of the China Islamic Association told the Global Times in an e-mail.

Wang Jingxian, a Beijing Muslim who went on the pilgrimage in 2012, said the experience enriched her and inspired her to practice stricter self-discipline and help others more enthusiastically. Although there is no age requirement for pilgrims in Islamic teachings, the association requires that pilgrims should be over 18 years old, though some western provinces set the bar at 25 or 35.

In some provinces and regions, those over 70 years old are required to sign a declaration saying that they take responsibility for any health issues they experience while on hajj. The application process is very competitive, especially in western regions with large Muslim populations, even though the number of Chinese pilgrims has been dramatically expanding over the decades.

Wei Zeming, who went on hajj in 2009 as the head of a multi-province group of several hundred pilgrims, said that in eastern areas like Beijing it only takes one year to get approval to go on the pilgrimage while an applicant living in an area with large Muslim communities may well spend four of five years on the waiting list.

A 2015 Foreign Policy article claims that applicants in Indonesia, the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population, can wait from 12 to 17 years to take the hajj. This year China has sent 12,800 pilgrims on the hajj, and the quota is split up among 30 provincial-level Islamic administrations.

Among the regions, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region takes about one-fourth of the total, followed by the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, which is allocated 2,700 places this year.

China has just over 20 million Muslims, according to the 2013 population census. A total of 10 ethnic groups including the Hui (with a population of 9.81 million) and the Uyghur (8.39 million) are majority Muslim.

The allocation of pilgrim quotas to provinces and regions is decided by the SARA according to the number of applications in each province, the hajj department of the China Islamic Association said. China’s national quota is set by Saudi Arabia.

The department said the total number of pilgrims China sends each year has hovered between 12,000 and 14,500 in recent years.


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Trump has shown that Washington is ‘not a good partner,’ says Rouhani

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani warned on Tuesday that Iran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers within hours if the United States keeps on imposing new sanctions.

In a speech to parliament, he also hit out at US counterpart Donald Trump saying that he had shown the world that Washington was “not a good partner”.

Rouhani’s comments come with the nuclear deal under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and strikes, and Washington imposed new sanctions — with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement.

Rouhani warned that Iran was ready to walk out of the 2015 deal, which saw the lifting of most international sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme if Washington persisted.

“Those who try to return to the language of threats and sanctions are prisoners of their past delusions,” he said in the televised address.

“If they want to go back to that experience, definitely in a short time ─, not weeks or months, but on the scale of hours and days ─ we will return to our previous situation very much stronger.”

He said Iran did prefer to stick with the nuclear deal, which he called “a model of victory for peace and diplomacy over war and unilateralism” but that this was not the “only option”.

Rouhani said Trump had shown he was an unreliable partner not just for Iran but for US allies.

“In recent months, the world has witnessed that the US, in addition to its constant and repetitive breaking of its promises in the JCPOA (nuclear deal), has ignored several other global agreements and shown its allies that the US is neither a good partner nor a reliable negotiating party,” he said.

He highlighted Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and international trade deals.

Iran’s parliament on Sunday approved more than half a billion dollars in funding for the country’s missile programme and foreign operations of the elite Revolutionary Guards in response to the new US sanctions.

‘Wanted to nominate women’

Rouhani was addressing lawmakers as deliberations start over his new ministerial line-up, which must be approved by lawmakers in the coming days.

The president, who started his second term a fortnight ago, has faced criticism from reformists over his elderly and all-male cabinet.

“I wanted to nominate three women ministers but it did not happen,” he said, without explaining why.

“All ministers must use women in high-ranking positions… and especially female advisers and deputies,” he added.

Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric, won a resounding re-election victory in May in large part due to the backing of reformists who supported his message of greater civil liberties and equality.

Many felt let down by the lack of women ministers, saying he had bowed to pressure from the conservative religious establishment, although he did appoint two female vice presidents and senior aide positions which do not require parliamentary approval.

He defended his cabinet selections on Tuesday, and pointed to his choice for a new telecoms minister, 35-year-old Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, as “our first experience in choosing from the youth, someone who has grown up after the revolution”.

Courtesy: News Agencies

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Trump authorizes probe into China’s trade practices

US President Donald Trump has signed a presidential memorandum authorising an investigation into China’s alleged theft of American intellectual property, declaring it “one big move”.

The order directs Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, to determine whether to investigate Chinese trade practices that force US companies operating in China to turn over intellectual property, in order to gain access to the world’s second-largest economy.

“Ambassador Lighthizer you are empowered to consider all available options at your disposal,” Trump said before he signed the memo on Monday.

“This is just the beginning.”

Trump had been expected to seek a so-called Section 301 investigation earlier this month, but an announcement was postponed as the White House sought help from China to curb North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons.

Although Trump constantly criticised China’s trade practices on the campaign trail, his administration has not taken direct action against the country.

It declined to name China a currency manipulator and has delayed broader national security probes into imports of foreign steel and aluminum that could indirectly affect China.

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said that Monday’s move to investigate China was significant because it indicates Trump’s disappoint with China and its perceived failure to use its leverage with North Korea.

“As a result, now we see the president delivering on that campaign promise to target China and those trade practices that he says are hurting the American worker,” she said.

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, a popular trade tool in the 1980s that has been rarely used in the past decade, allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions to protect US industries from “unfair trade practices” of foreign countries.

The investigation could take up to a year, according to administration officials, opening the door to a settlement before a possible investigation is launched.

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett said that Trump’s move was not getting the big headlines it would on any other day, coming in the middle of the fallout over violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia at the weekend.

Trump has come under criticism for his reponse to the violence, including his failure to swiftly condemn racism and white supremacy.

“Given the violence that occured in Charlottesville, that is what is dominating the conversation,” our correspondent said.

“While the president has tried to come out and perhaps even divert attention to a major campaign promise that he is delivering on, the fact of the matter is what people are really talking about right now is the division that exists in America over race.”

Chinese warning

China has given warning that both sides would lose out if Trump begins a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

In an editorial on Monday, the state-run newspaper China Daily said the investigation will “poison” relations and warned the Trump administration not to make a rash decision it could regret.

Matthew Goodman, a senior adviser for Asian economics at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Reuters news agency that Beijing would likely resist negotiating under the threat of trade sanctions but could be amenable to a backdoor deal.

“I’m sure they will formally reject this if an investigation is launched and there is an implication this is going to require negotiation to resolve it,” Goodman said. “But will they quietly be willing to talk about some of the underlying concerns?”

Jonathan Fenby, an analyst at the TS Lombard consultancy, told Reuters that China was not interested in a short-term trade fix with the US and will resist “attempts to tie it down”.

Courtesy: Al


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Several people killed in attacks on UN camps in Mali

The United Nations says unidentified gunmen attacked the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu, killing seven people and injuring seven others.

The UN peacekeeping mission says six assailants also were killed by UN peacekeepers in the attack on Monday afternoon.

The mission says five Malian security guards and a Malian contractor working for the mission were killed along with a member of the Malian gendarmerie.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said earlier on Monday that unidentified gunmen attacked two neighbouring UN camps in Douentza in the Mopti region of central Mali, killing one Malian soldier and one UN peacekeeper. Two assailants also died in those attacks.

The mission, known as MINUSMA, said it dispatched a quick reaction force and attack helicopters to secure the Timbuktu headquarters

“I do not have enough words to condemn this cowardly and despicable act which takes place a few hours after the terrorist attack in Douentza,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of MINUSMA, said in a statement.

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general, condemned the attack and stressed that attacks targeting UN peacekeepers “may constitute war crimes under international law,” a spokesman said.

The peacekeeping mission in Mali is the deadliest of the UN’s 16 global peacekeeping operations, and this was one of the worst losses of mission staff.

Following a 2012 military coup in the West African country, an armed insurgency took control of Mali’s north.

The conflict prompted French military intervention in January 2013 and the deployment of a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping operation, known as MINUSMA, several months later.

Since the mission began, there have been at least 128 fatalities of MINUSMA staff.

Armed fighters killed three United Nations peacekeepers in a attack outside their base in Kidal in northern Mali in June.

Courtesy: Al

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UN: Nearly 50,000 stranded at Jordan-Syria border

Nearly 50,000 people, most of them women and children, are stranded at Syria’s southern border with Jordan, an increasingly unsafe area where air strikes were reported in the last few days, the United Nations said on Monday.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that “some people are reportedly attempting to leave the area, risking further danger and deprivation in an inhospitable desert location”.

Those remaining in the area, known as the berm, face a scarcity of food and health care, Haq said. In one section, called Hadalat, an estimated 4,000 people are reportedly living solely on flour and water, he said.

On Thursday, Syrian government forces and their allies captured a key area along the Jordan border in their latest push against rebel groups there.

Syrian state media said the capture closed major smuggling points used by rebels to bring weapons and fighters from Jordan into the war-torn country. Syrian state TV said government troops captured an area of 1,300 square kilometres, in addition to some strategic hills.

Jordan closed its border with Syria in June 2016 after an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) car bomb attack staged from near Rukban killed seven Jordanian border guards. Since then, international aid organisations have wrestled with the dilemma posed by sending aid to an off-limits area.

UN agencies agreed late last year to an aid system that critics say handed much of the control over aid distribution to Jordan’s military and a Jordanian contractor and also involved armed men on the Syrian side.

Haq said on Monday that UN agencies “are deeply concerned about the security and protection” of the nearly 50,000 people stranded at the border.

“The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to take the necessary steps to prevent further harm to the frightened and highly vulnerable individuals stranded at the border,” he said.

UN agencies are ready to continue supporting Jordanian authorities, despite limited resources, and “immediately provide protection and additional life-saving assistance as needed,” Haq said

Courtesy: Al