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Obama to arrive in Saudi Arabia to attend GCC summit

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Barack Obama, King Salman

Riyadh, April 20 : US President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh to attend a summit with leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

This is Obama’s fourth visit to the oil-rich kingdom since taking office in 2009.

The US president is scheduled to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the Saudi royal court on Wednesday.

The White House said the US-GCC summit, scheduled for Thursday, will be an opportunity for leaders to discuss issues such as the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group, regional conflicts, and sectarian tensions.

The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The summit comes on the heels of Obama’s criticism of Saudi Arabia’s regional role, which prompted a strong rebuke from the Saudi royal family.

In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Obama described Saudi Arabia and other allies as “free riders” on American foreign policy, and criticized what he saw as Riyadh’s funding of religious intolerance.

Almost a year ago, in May 2015, Obama hosted leaders of Gulf nations at the White House and the Camp David retreat, the first meeting of the Gulf countries after a framework agreement on limiting Iran’s nuclear program.

Except for Kuwait and Qatar, top leaders from four of the six-member GCC countries were absent from the 2015 summit.

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Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany approach 90,000

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Berlin, April 5 More than 89,300 COVID-19 cases and at least 1,250 deaths have been registered as of Saturday afternoon across Germany, according to evaluations of a local media outlet which took into account the latest figures from all federal states.

The confirmed cases increased by 5,600 from the previous day, and the deaths by 147, Xinhua reported.

Helge Braun, head of the Federal Chancellery, told the Saturday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine that the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in Germany has not yet been reached, and “the time with the highest infection numbers is still ahead of us.”

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Iran urges EU to defy US sanctions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday censured US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran, April 5 : Iran’s envoy to Belgium on Saturday asked the European Union to oppose US sanctions on Iran amid the surge of COVID-19 pandemic, state TV reported.

The “unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran under the guise of its maximum pressure campaign undermine the country’s ability to effectively battle the virus without any international support in the long run,” Gholam Hossein Dehqani said in a letter to Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Xinhua reported.

Dehqani urged the European Union to defy “the inhumane” US sanctions as they infringe on the ordinary citizens’ rights to meet their basic needs.

On Friday, Iran’s envoy to the UN office in Geneva Esmaeil Baqaei Hamaneh said that the US “cruel and illegal” sanctions against Iran have resulted in difficulties for ordinary Iranians’ access to medicine and medical equipment and services as the country is engaged in the combat with the novel coronavirus.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday censured US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

Iran’s health ministry on Saturday announced 55,743 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and a total of 3,452 deaths.

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CoronaVirus: US COVID-19 deaths surpass 8,000

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Donald Trump

The total deaths of COVID-19 in the US topped 8,000 as of 2.30 p.m. on Saturday (local time), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

President Donald Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, “This will be the toughest week” in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.

“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” he said.

The president’s comments came as the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to over 300,000, with the number of deaths at more than 8,000, according to NBC News’ tally.

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The CDC is recommending now that Americans wear cloth masks when out in public. And, New York, by far the hardest-hit state, is gearing up for the pandemic to peak there in an expected in four to 10 days. China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state, and another 140 are coming from Oregon.

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