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No support to Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, says Merkel

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Angela Merkel

Berlin, Dec 7: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Germany does not support US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

“The Federal Government does not support this attitude because the status of Jerusalem is to be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution,” Xinhua news agency quoted spokesperson Steffen Seibert as saying on behalf of Merkel.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced that he formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while ordering to immediately begin the process of relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

During his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former US presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

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50 people killed in blast at Afghan religious gathering: health ministry

The attack targeted an Ulema Council gathering at a wedding hall to mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.

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Kabul, Nov 21 : A suicide bombing on Tuesday at a hall in Kabul where hundreds of religious scholars had gathered to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday left at least 50 people dead and more than 70 others wounded, officials said.

The attack was carried out by a lone insurgent inside the Uranus wedding hall, Kabul police spokesperson Basir Mujahid told Efe.

“The explosion took place as hundreds of ulema (Islamic scholars) and people were gathered in the hall to observe Mawlid and recite passages from the Quran,” he said, adding that police had not been advised of a need for security beforehand.

All of the victims were civilian men, health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Majroh told Efe.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the “unpardonable crime” on the “enemies of Islam.”

“Once again, the terrorists have acted against the teachings of the Prophet,” he said in a statement.

While no group claimed responsibility, the Taliban, Afghanistan’s largest insurgency, took the unusual step of denying involvement, reports Efe.

“The Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) energetically condemns attacks against gatherings of civilians and religious people,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

Thousands of gatherings were taking place throughout the country to mark the Prophet’s birthday on what was a public holiday in Afghanistan.

The Uranus wedding hall is located on Airport Road in northern Kabul, where there is a concentration of similar venues which are often booked for events other than weddings.

The Afghan capital is frequently rocked by terror attacks, often carried out by the Taliban or Islamic State, but Tuesday’s assault was one of the deadliest in recent months.

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Pakistan issues over 3,800 visas to Sikh pilgrims

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New Delhi, Nov 20 : Pakistan has issued over 3,800 visas to Sikh pilgrims ahead of the 549th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the Pakistan High Commission here said on Tuesday.

“The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued over 3,800 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to participate in the 549th birthday anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Pakistan from November 21 to 30, 2018,” the high commission said in a statement.

“Under the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, a large number of Sikh yatrees (pilgrims) from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals/occasions every year,” it stated.

“The over 3,800 visas issued by the Pakistan High Commission are in addition to the visas issued to Sikh pilgrims participating in the event from other countries.”

According to the statement, this is by far the largest number of visas issued in recent years to Sikh pilgrims for Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations, well beyond the maximum number of 3,000, mutually agreed between the two countries for this event.

The move comes after a grenade attack on a prayer meeting of the Nirankari sect in Amritsar on Sunday that left three people dead and 20 others injured.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said the grenade attack carried “Pakistan’s signature”, with initial investigations indicating that the grenade used was similar to the ones being manufactured by the Pakistani Army Ordinance factory.

The Chief Minister, who arrived at the grenade attack spot at the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan in Adliwal village of Rajasansi area of Amritsar district on Monday, said that a similar HG-84 grenade had been recovered from a terror module busted by the Punjab Police last month.

“This indicates a high probability of the involvement of inimical forces from across the border,” he said.

“Prima facie, this appears to be an act of terror by separatist forces, organised with the involvement of ISI-backed Khalistani or Kashmiri terrorist groups. My government has taken serious note of the incident and is aggressively pursuing all angles of investigation,” Amarinder told the media here.

In Tuesday’s high commission statement, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood said the issuance of over 3,800 visas to Sikh pilgrims was a “special gesture” by the Pakistan government in view of the 550th anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak commencing in earnest from this year.

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Federal Judge bars Trump from denying asylum to illegal immigrants

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Washington, Nov 20: A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily barred the US President Donald Trump administration from refusing asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally. 

US District Judge Jon S. Tigar issued a temporary restraining order after hearing arguments on Monday night in San Francisco, NBC News reported.

The request was made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which quickly sued the administration after Trump issued the ban earlier this month in response to the caravans of migrants that have started to arrive at the US-Mexico border.

In a proclamation on November 9, Trump said that anyone who crossed the southern border would be ineligible for asylum.

The regulations, which will remain in place for three months absent a court order, could potentially make it harder for thousands of people who enter the US to avoid deportation.

In recent years, tens of thousands of immigrants each year have shown up in the Arizona desert or on the north bank of the Rio Grande in Texas, surrendered to immigration agents and requested asylum, NBC News said.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates around 70,000 people a year claim asylum between official ports of entry.

Trump has argued that the migrant caravans were a threat to national security.

Around 3,000 people from the first of the caravans have arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from San Diego, California.

US Customs and Border Protection said earlier on Monday that it closed off northbound traffic for several hours at the San Ysidro crossing.

It has also installed movable, wire-topped barriers, apparently to stop a potential mass rush of people.

As of Monday, 107 people detained between official crossings have sought asylum since Trump’s order went into effect.

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