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No foreign pilgrim will be allowed to perform Hajj, Saudi restricts pilgrimage to citizens

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No foreign pilgrim will be allowed to perform the Hajj once again this year after Saudi Arabia restricted the annual pilgrimage to citizens and residents, and set a maximum of 60,000 pilgrims in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Saudi health ministry said in a statement, those wishing to perform the hajj must be free of chronic diseases and be vaccinated” and between the ages of 18 and 65.

The statement adds,
In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation.

Last year, the kingdom reduced the number of pilgrims to about 1,000 Saudi citizens and residents to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.

Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 463,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,536 deaths.

The health ministry says it has administered more than 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a country with a population of about 34 million.

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Khan formally swears in as new ICC Prosecutor

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Mr Karim Ahmad Khan has been formally sworn-in as the new Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Mr. Khan gave his solemn undertaking today during a ceremony held at the Seat of the Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Mr Khan, who is a national of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was elected as ICC Prosecutor on the 12th of February, this year, for a nine-year term.

The President of the ICC, Judge Piotr Hofmański, who presided over the ceremony in open court, said the Prosecutor had a lot of responsibilities ahead of him and looked forward to working with him to strengthen the institution.

On her part, the Vice-President of the Assembly of States Parties, Ambassador Kateřina Sequensová, said she was confident that his tenure would constitute a fundamental pillar in the process of delivering international justice through his wealth of experience.

In his remarks as the Prosecutor, Mr. Khan said he would faithfully discharge his duties without fear or favour.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, while delivering Nigeria’s statement at the 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, renewed the country’s commitment to working with state parties in the fight against impunity and to oppose efforts to undermine the work of the Court and its independence.

Ifeoma/ Dan Ede

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NATO boss urges members to respond to China’s rise

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The head of Nato has urged members to respond to China’s rise at a summit designed to shore up US support for the Western alliance.

The summit is expected to issue a statement describing China’s behaviour as a “systemic challenge” after the meeting in Belgium.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the meeting was a “pivotal moment” for the alliance.

It is US President Joe Biden’s first Nato meeting since taking office.

Nato is a powerful political and military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. It was established after World War Two in response to the threat of communist expansion.

In recent years, the alliance came under strain as leaders debated its purpose and funding.

Tensions grew during the presidency of Donald Trump, who complained about his country’s financial contributions to the alliance and questioned the US commitment to defend European partners.

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3 security personnel killed, 4 others wounded in an ambush attack in Ivory Coast

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Three security personnel have been killed in an ambush on a military patrol in northern Ivory Coast, near the border with Burkina Faso, the army has said.

Two soldiers and a police officer died when their vehicle hit an explosive device, security sources say.

Four others were wounded in the attack, which was the second in the region in a week.

On Monday an Ivorian soldier was killed in an attack by gunmen on the town of Tougbo.

Islamist militants have been waging an insurgency in Burkina Faso and Mali for many years and security officials fear an expansion of their operations further south to countries such as the Ivory Coast.

The attack on Saturday evening comes two days after a counter-terrorism academy was inaugurated in Abidjan to help tackle the jihadist threat in the region.

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B3W plan should be a higher-quality alternative to a similar Chinese programme, says Biden

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G7 leaders seeking to rival China have adopted a plan to support lower- and middle-income companies in building better infrastructure.

President Joe Biden said he wanted the US-backed Build Back Better World (B3W) plan to be a higher-quality alternative to a similar Chinese programme.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has helped finance trains, roads, and ports in many countries.

But it has been criticised for saddling some with debt.

In a statement at their summit in the English county of Cornwall, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

It is not yet clear how the G7 plan will be financed. The US has been particularly critical of China’s so-called “debt diplomacy”.

The G7, the world’s seven wealthiest democracies, are also expected to commit to a new plan to stop future pandemics.

The measures include cutting the time needed to develop vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 to under 100 days.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting the three-day gathering at the seaside resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall.

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UK Prime Minister meets Biden, read what they discussed

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The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson says the alliance between the US and the UK should be known as the “indestructible relationship”, after meeting US President Joe Biden for the first time.

He said he had “terrific” talks with Mr Biden, who has travelled to Cornwall for the G7 summit of world leaders.

The summit begins later, with vaccines and climate change on the agenda.

Mr Johnson insisted the US president had not rebuked him over post-Brexit tensions in Northern Ireland.

However, Mr Biden is said to have “deep concern” over the situation.

The summit will see the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and UK gathering in person for the first time since the pandemic.

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