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Vigil to be held for London Bridge attack victims

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London Bridge Attack

London, Dec 2 : A vigil will be held here on Monday for the two victims of the November 29 London Bridge attack.

Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, will be honoured in a remembrance service at Guildhall Yard, which will also be attended by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, reports the BBC.

The service will also pay tribute to those who were injured, the emergency services and members of the public who responded.

A book of condolences will be opened at Guildhall Art Gallery, and members of the public will be invited to lay flowers outside nearby Mansion House.

The service will take place, less than a mile from Fishmongers’ Hall, where convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, carried out the attack and was later shot dead by the police.

Merritt and Jones were both University of Cambridge graduates, and had been attending an event for the varsity’s Learning Together programme, which focuses on prisoner rehabilitation, when they were attacked.

Monday’s vigil at Guildhall Yard follows a service for the victims on Sunday at Southwark Cathedral, which was attended by hundreds.

The Dean of Southwark Cathedral, the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, said many people were struggling with what happened.

The attack comes after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.

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Pak FM in Riyadh to defuse Saudi-Iran tensions

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Islamabad, Dec 12 Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held talks with his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh in what appears to be a visit linked to Islamabad’s efforts to seek de-escalation in rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office here said that Qureshi on Wednesday met Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, during which regional and international issues were discussed, reports The Express Tribune.

A separate statement issued by the Saudi official news agency said the foreign ministers reviewed bilateral relations between the two “brotherly countries” and ways of enhancing them in all fields.

Although no further details were available, official sources told The Express Tribune that the visit was part of ongoing efforts by Pakistan to defuse tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The two countries are at loggerheads since Saudi oil facilities came under missile attacks in September. Saudi Arabia and the US blamed Iran for the attack.

Tehran, however, denied the allegations.

Pakistan has since been making efforts to facilitate dialogue between the two countries. Prime Minister Imran Khan made a stopover in Saudi Arabia on his way to the annual UN General Assembly session in New York in September to meet Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

In New York, he held meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to defuse tensions between Tehran and Riyadh.

The efforts in September were followed by a flurry of visits undertaken by Pakistani civil and military leadership both to Riyadh and Tehran.

All such diplomatic maneouvers, observers believed, were aimed at avoiding any conflict in the Persian Gulf region.

Pakistan enjoys close strategic ties with Saudi Arabia but at the same time considers its relationship with Iran important given its proximity as well as other factors.

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Car bomb blast, firing outside US base in Afghanistan

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Kabul, Dec 11 Militants detonated a massive car bomb and seized a building outside a main US and NATO military base in Afghanistan’s Bagram on Wednesday morning, pushing security forces to respond, officials and witnesses said.

“A car bomb explosion occurred at 5.50 a.m. local time Wednesday in Bagram district. We still cannot provide details on causalities. There is fear of possible causalities,” Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman of the Afghan Interior Ministry, told Xinhua news agency.

“We heard a huge blast in Janqadam locality in Bagram district after militants detonated a huge car bomb. A second group of militants seized a health clinic’s building, clashing with security forces and firing rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) onto the Bagram base,” a witness told local Arman FM radio.

The whole place has now been sealed off by the US and Afghan security forces, the witness added.

The blast caused a plume of gray smoke to rise above the scene. Military helicopters were hovering over the site.

Located in Bagram district of eastern Parwan province, the Bagram military base, some 50 km north of Afghan capital of Kabul, has been serving as a main US and NATO military base in Afghanistan over the past 18 years.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

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A Nobel ceremony: Abhijit, wife Esther woo netizens in ethnic wear

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Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee

Stockholm, Dec 11 Indian-American economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, and his French-American wife Esther Duflo were conferred the Nobel Prize for Economics in Sweden here, alongside their American colleague Michael Kremer.

Unlike other laureates, who arrived in tuxedos and fancy Red Carpet dresses, the couple glorified the prestigious occasion in traditional Indian attire.

Abhijit wore a black bandhgala jacket paired with an off-white dhoti, and wife Esther wore a blue, two-toned saree, while Michael Kremer was spotted wearing a black suit.

‘The Nobel Prize’ tweeted “Watch Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer receive their medals and diplomas at the #NobelPrize award ceremony today. Congratulations!

They were awarded the 2019 Prize in Economic Sciences “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”

The Twitter post was flooded with comments and congratulatory wishes from across the world, with 1.4K retweets and 3.6K likes.

The three economists were awarded medals and the prize money of nine million Swedish krona (approx Rs 6.7 crore), which will be shared among them.

As “#AbhijitBanerjee” trends on Twitter, tweeple are praising the couple’s attire, saying “Moment of pride for Indians as Abhijeet Banerjee and his wife received biggest prize in the world… wearing Indian attire is icing on cake”.

While another wrote: “We live in an era where people are banning movies and pre wedding shootings for cultural in-approproation , whereas progressive Indians like #AbhijitBanerjee and her better half are showing the world what Indian culture is. Thank you for making us proud sir.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Banerjee, an alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Calcutta, is the second person of Indian Origin to be awarded the prize after Amartya Sen who received it in 1988.

He is the 10th person of Indian origin or citizenship to win a Nobel.

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