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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.

Middle East

More advanced equipment to replace damaged part of Iran n-site

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

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Iran Nuclear Power Plant

Tehran, July 6 : A new and more advanced structure will be built at Iran”s Natanz nuclear facility to replace the one damaged in a recent fire “incident”, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday.

“Necessary arrangements have been made to rebuild the damaged shed at Shahid Ahmadi Roshan (Natanz) nuclear facility and a bigger shed with more advanced equipment is to replace it,” the spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

More centrifuge machines were supposed to be produced at the damaged shed, Kamalvandi said, adding that parts of measurement and precision tools in the shed were destroyed and damaged in the “incident”, reports Xinhua news agency

The “incident” has not caused hindrance in Iran”s enrichment work, although it may slow down development and manufacture of advanced machines in the medium term, he said.

“We would make up for this slowdown through round-the-clock work and diligent efforts of our colleagues at the organization.”

On July 2, Iran announced that the fire at the Natanz nuclear facility caused no damage to the establishment, but it affected one of the structures for storing stock items.

The next day, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) saidthat the country”s experts had determined the main cause of “incident” and would announce it at an “appropriate time”.

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

The facility is a Fuel Enrichment Plant covering 100,000 square meters.

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Iraq confirms 2,312 new Covid-19 cases; 102 more deaths

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

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Saudi Arabia Coronavirus Covid 19

Baghdad, July 4 : Iraqi Health Ministry on Friday confirmed 2,312 new Covid-19 cases, as the total number of infections climbed to 56,020.

The ministry also confirmed 102 more deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 2,262 in the country, Xinhua reported.

It also said that 1,688 people recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries from the disease to 29,600.

The new cases were recorded after 12,176 testing kits were used across the country during the past 24 hours, and a total of 579,861 tests have been carried out since the outbreak of the disease, according to the ministry”s statement.

The ministry frequently attributed the recent increase of COVID-19 infections to the lack of compliance of the citizens to the health instructions, as well as to the increase in the testing capacity due to the increase of labs in Baghdad and the other Iraqi provinces.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

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Middle East

Turkey to extend wage support for another month amid COVID-19

Turkey conducted 51,014 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 3,331,158, he stated.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara, June 30 : Turkey will extend a wage support system for one more month to ease the impact of COVID-19, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced.

The government will also extend a financial aid program for low-income families for one more month, Erdogan told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The wage support system, which covers the workers whose working hours are reduced by their employers, was introduced in March for three months just after Turkey introduced strict measures to tackle the virus outbreak.

The Turkish president also said Turkey will deliver an aid package to Iraq on Tuesday.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Monday reported 1,374 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 198,613.

In a single day, 18 more patients died, taking the death toll to 5,115 in Turkey, the minister tweeted.

Turkey conducted 51,014 tests for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests carried out so far to 3,331,158, he stated.

Koca said that a total of 171,809 patients have recovered in the country since the outbreak after 1,214 more recoveries were added in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 1,018 patients are being treated at the intensive care units and 375 being intubated, he added.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11.

Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19. Chinese doctors and medical experts held a video conference with Turkish counterparts to share China”s experience in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.

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