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Saudi Arabia admits Khashoggi killed inside consulate, detains 18

He went to the consulate on October 2 for paperwork needed for his upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

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journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Riyadh/Ankara, Oct 20 : After over two weeks of shifting stories, Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that missing journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi died during a fistfight inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul and that 18 men had been arrested in the case.

Following this admission, Turkey on Saturday vowed to reveal all details in the case. “Turkey will never allow a cover-up… We are carrying out our own independent investigation. We will reveal our own conclusion,” a ruling party spokesperson said.

Turkish investigators previously said that Khashoggi had been deliberately killed inside the consulate and his body was later dismembered.

After 18 days in which it insisted it had no involvement in the journalist’s disappearance, Riyadh on Friday night said that an initial investigation by the government’s general prosecutor found that the Saudi journalist had been in discussions with people inside the consulate when a quarrel broke out and escalated to a fatal fistfight.

Those responsible then tried to cover it up, a Saudi statement said. Khashoggi was a permanent resident of the US in self-imposed exile and was a fierce critic of Riyadh’s human rights violations and of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies.

He went to the consulate on October 2 for paperwork needed for his upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

An announcement carried on Saudi state TV was the first official confirmation of Khashoggi’s death in Turkey, and the first acknowledgment by Saudi Arabia of its role in it.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expresses deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place in this case and affirms the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the attention of the public and to hold accountable all those involved,” it said.

The Saudi government said it fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included the Crown Prince’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.

The Saudis set up a commission, led by the Crown Prince, that will restructure the Saudi general intelligence directorate and will have one month to release a report, state TV said.

The commission will consist of national security officials, the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry.

The Saudi statement came as the kingdom faced unprecedented political and economic pressure to explain what happened to Khashoggi.

It was unclear whether the Saudi explanation, in contrast with details provided by Turkish investigators, will be enough to satisfy foreign leaders, global business executives and US lawmakers pressing for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Turkish investigators had concluded days ago that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a Saudi team dispatched to Istanbul. US officials have said that Turkey has audio and video recordings providing evidence that the journalist was interrogated and killed inside the consulate and his body cut into several pieces.

According to the Washington Post, CIA officials had listened to an audio recording that Turkish officials say proved the journalist was killed and dismembered by the Saudi team, according to people familiar with the matter.

If verified, the recording would make it difficult for the White House to accept the Saudi version that Khashoggi’s death was effectively an accident. Nor has Khashoggi’s body been recovered, and the Saudi statement did not address what happened to it.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said that he found the Saudi claim credible, CNN said. He called the official statement from Riyadh a “good first step” and said talks with Saudi officials would continue.

He added that Saudi Arabia was a “great ally in the Middle East”, but “what happened is unacceptable”.

Trump said he would work with Congress to develop a response to Khashoggi’s death, but said that he didn’t want sanctions to affect US arms sales to the Kingdom.

Health

13 Israelis suffer facial paralysis post inoculation

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

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Vaccine

Jerusalem, Jan 17 : At least 13 Israelis suffered mild facial paralysis as a side effect after receiving the first Covid vaccine jabs, the Health Ministry said, adding that the count could be higher.

The officials have raised questions on whether or not to administer the second dose to these individuals the Health Ministry had recommended for the second dose, reported the Jerusalem Post.

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

“I can’t say it was completely gone afterwards, but other than that I had no other pains, except a minor pain where the injection was, but there was nothing beyond that.”

As for receiving the second dose, he admits he is undecided, but says that “it is important to note that this is something rare, and I don’t want people to avoid getting vaccinated – it’s important”.

“I recently came across, for example, someone vaccinated who was dealing with paralysis, and decided not to give her a second dose,” Galia Rahav, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Centre told Ynet.

“It is true that it can be given according to the Health Ministry, but I did not feel comfortable with it.”

She added that, “No one knows if this is connected to the vaccine or not. That’s why I would refrain from giving a second dose to someone who suffered from paralysis after the first dose.”

However, the Health Ministry has assured of the second dose only when the paralysis passes, Ynet reported.

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Lifestyle

Saudi Arabia, the Largest Producer of Oil, Will Now Create a City Without Cars or Roads

A Saudi statement said construction would start in the first quarter of 2021 and that the city was expected to contribute $48 billion to the kingdom’s gross domestic product and create 380,000 jobs.

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saudi arabia

Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come out with his latest vision for the nation which is the largest producer of oil – an ambitious non-carbon emissions city without cars or roads.

The project named “The Line” will be home to a million people and have no cars and no streets, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, Arab News reported. “The city will be a 170 kilometer belt of “hyper-connected future communities,” and will be built around the natural environment,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said there was a need to transform the concept of a conventional city into that of a futuristic one. “By 2050, one billion people will have to relocate due to rising CO2 emissions and sea levels. 90 per cent of people breathe polluted air,” he added.

“Why should we sacrifice nature for the sake of development? Why should seven million people die every year because of pollution? Why should we lose one million people every year due to traffic accidents? And why should we accept wasting years of our lives commuting?” he said, according to the report.

The project is part of the prince’s plans to build a zero-carbon city at NEOM, the first major construction project for the $500 billion flagship business zone aimed at diversifying the nation’s economy.

The prince later told reporters in the northwestern city of Al Ula that the project was the conclusion of three years of preparation, adding that its infrastructure would cost $100 billion to $200 billion.

“The backbone of investment in ‘The Line’ will come from the $500 billion support to NEOM by the Saudi government, PIF and local and global investors over 10 years,” he added.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is the cornerstone investor in NEOM, a 26,500-square-km (10,230-square-mile) high-tech development on the Red Sea with several zones, including an industrial and logistics areas, planned for completion in 2025.

There have been few announcements regarding NEOM since it was announced by de facto ruler Prince Mohammed to much fanfare in 2017 as a pillar of his Vision 2030 plan to rid Saudi Arabia of its reliance on crude oil revenues.

A Saudi statement said construction would start in the first quarter of 2021 and that the city was expected to contribute $48 billion to the kingdom’s gross domestic product and create 380,000 jobs.

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Business

OPEC allows Russia, Kazakhstan to raise output

Kazakhstan will boost its production by 10,000 bpd to 14,27,000 bpd in February and by another 10,000 bpd to 14,37,000 bpd in March.

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OPEC

Moscow, Jan 6 : The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-bloc producers agreed to allow Russia and Kazakhstan to slightly raise oil output in the next two months.

In accordance with a deal published by the OPEC, Russia will increase its output by 65,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the January level to 91,84,000 bpd in February and by another 65,000 bpd to 9,249,000 bpd in March, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Kazakhstan will boost its production by 10,000 bpd to 14,27,000 bpd in February and by another 10,000 bpd to 14,37,000 bpd in March.

All the remaining participants in the OPEC+ mechanism will keep their output unchanged from January.

The OPEC+ has introduced caps on production to stabilize global oil prices.

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