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Seven nations isolate Qatar for supporting terrorism

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Dubai, June 5: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, the UAE and the Maldives on Monday severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terror groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The Gulf country denied the allegations.

The dramatic development followed lingering tensions within the once unified Gulf Cooperation Council. Riyadh closed its land border and snapped sea and air links, triggering a run on supermarkets in Qatar.

The Arab and Gulf nations accused Qatar of destablising the region and claimed Doha had links with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Qatar called the decision “unjustified and based on slander”. “The measures were taken despite there being no evidence to support the accusations lodged against the nation,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called the Gulf rift “an internal matter” and that there was “no insecurity because of this” development.

Some 4.82 million Indians live in the Gulf, including 630,000 in Qatar.

The Saudi Press Agency said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contacts with Qatar to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

Media reports in the Gulf said the diplomatic withdrawal was put into motion by Bahrain, followed quickly by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen and Libya. The Maldives in the Indian Ocean followed suit.

Bahrain, the only Shia-majority Gulf nation ruled by Sunnis, said it was cutting ties because Qatar was “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs”.

It said Qatar supported terrorist activities and armed groups as well as financed Iranian-backed groups responsible of violence in Bahrain.

The UAE accused Qatar of “supporting, funding and embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organisations”.

Both Bahrain and the UAE gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave their countries. Saudi Arabia told all Qatari visitors and residents to quit the kingdom in two weeks.

UAE airlines Etihad Airways, Emirates and Flydubai suspended all flights to and from Doha from early Tuesday.

Egypt accused Qatar of taking an “anti-Egyptian course” and said Cairo had been unable to dissuade it from supporting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia and its allies announced they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar and closed their airspace to Qatar Airways, which suspended all flights to the Saudi kingdom, its neighbour.

Yemen accused Qatar of working with its enemies in the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, state news agency Saba reported.

Kuwait and Oman, however, did not embrace the Saudi decision to isolate Qatar.

Libya alleged that Qatar interfered in its domestic affairs. The Maldives expressed “its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism”.

After the diplomatic upheaval, the Qatari stock market dropped 783 points, 7.89 per cent. According to the Qatar Stock Exchange website, the stock market indicator fell sharply from 9,923 to 9,400, followed by a continued decline to around 9,100 points.

The US urged the Gulf nations to stay united. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for a dialogue and said it was ready to help defuse the diplomatic row.

Like India, Russia too said the diplomatic crisis was an internal affair.

Monday’s move came after Qatar alleged that hackers last month took over the site of its state-run news agency and published what it called fake comments alleged to be from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel, Al Ahram newspaper reported.

Qatar denied that the comments, in which the country’s leader expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel while suggesting that US President Donald Trump may not last in power, were ever made.

In March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar for its alleged backing of then Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member.

IANS

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Heavy rains, landslides kill 5 in Sri Lanka

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People look at the rough sea on a bridge as rainy clouds gather above during the monsoon period in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 21, 2018. (Image Credit- Reuters)

Colombo, May 21: At least five people have been killed and seven are missing as heavy rains and strong winds caused havoc in Sri Lanka, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said on Monday.

The deaths were reported from the eastern district of Trincomalee and in the lower central hills of Badulla, Xinhua news agency reported.

Three people were killed by lightning, one perished in a landslide, while the fifth death was the result of a fallen tree, said DMC officials.

Over 9,000 people were affected by the adverse weather while hundreds of families were evacuated from their homes as the Meteorology Department warned of more rains in the coming days.

DMC spokesperson Pradeep Kodippili said five major rivers were at spill level and those living in low areas were evacuated to safer levels.

He said floods were also reported from the Ratnapura district in the Sabaragamuwa province and a landslide warning had been issued for Kalutara, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Galle and Kurunegala.

“The police and tri forces are all on standby and assisting in relief efforts. We request the people in low areas to move to safer locations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sri lankan Education Ministry said schools in the rain affected areas in Sabaragamuwa province will remain shut on Monday and Tuesday.

Sri lanka is facing its annual southwest monsoon, with the Meteorological Department warning of more rains in several districts across the country in the coming days.

“Very heavy falls, about 150 mm, can be expected at some places in Sabaragamuwa, Western provinces and in Galle and Matara districts,” the Meteorological Department said.

Over 200 people were killed and 78 people missing when the southwest monsoon caused severe floods and landslides across Sri lanka in 2017.

IANS

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Germany wants to strengthen multilateralism with China: Merkel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her country wants to strengthen multilateralism with China and she is looking forward to her visit to China next week.

Merkel will visit China next Thursday and Friday at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. It will be her first trip to China after re-election and the 11th as the German chancellor, Xinhua news agency reported.

Merkel said in a podcast published on Saturday that as Germany and China have agreed on regular political dialogue and intergovernmental consultations, she went to China to conduct these talks on average once a year.

Germany and China have carried out very close cooperation within G20, Merkel said, adding that during her upcoming visit the two sides will talk about bilateral relations, rule of law, China’s development, economy and other international affairs.

“We want to strengthen multilateralism. And that will play a role in our discussion,” said Merkel.

Merkel will also visit Shenzhen, an economic hub in China’s southern Guangdong Province.

“I am glad that I’m going to Shenzhen this time as well. I have regularly visited provinces in China, not just the capital. I am again and again aware of the dynamics and the extent to which China is developing,” Merkel said.

The German Chancellor said she was very interested in visiting Shenzhen where China’s economic opening-up began and where there are many German companies.

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Royal Wedding: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle marry at Windsor Castle

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New Delhi, May 19: It’s the most anticipated wedding of the year: Prince Harry married US actress Meghan Markle in a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle here on Saturday (May 19).

prince harry Meghan Markle

Meghan became the first royal bride to walk herself up the aisle at a royal wedding. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, who walked her down the aisle of the Quire of the chapel. Her father Thomas Markle was unable to attend due to health issues.

The marriage between Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, and Meghan, an American actor who lived for years in Toronto, has drawn intense interest worldwide.

Among the 600 celebrity guests invited to the St. George Chapel were internationally acclaimed Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John, Tom Hardy, James Corden, James Blunt and Carey Mulligan among others.

Tennis star Serena Williams and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson were also present.

The ceremony took place in presence of Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, Prince William, his wife Catherine, Prince Harry’s uncle, Earl Spencer; the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; and Catherine’s sister Pippa Middleton.

Watch all the Live Updates of Royal Wedding here: 

Here comes the beautiful royal bride:

Handsome groom:

Harry and Markle becomeDuke and Duchess of Sussex on their Wedding Day: Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the dukedom on her grandson in the morning, with his wife-to-be automatically becoming a duchess. Prince Harry’s titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.

“The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel,” according to the royal statement.

“Prince Harry thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex,” it said.

The couple will wed at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

People flocking the streets to welcome the bride and groom.

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