Iran imposes new curbs as coronavirus toll rises

– Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday as he launched new measures to try to curb the coronavirus. Iran has been battling the spread of the coronavirus, with the total number of cases hitting 237,878 on Saturday and a further 148 deaths bringing the country’s toll to 11,408, Health…

"Iran imposes new curbs as coronavirus toll rises"

19 Sikh pilgrims killed in Pakistan when train collides with van

LAHORE, Pakistan – At least 19 pilgrims of Pakistan’s minority Sikh community were killed when a train collided with a passenger van in eastern Pakistan on Friday, officials said. According to police, the dead, which include two children, were all residents of the western Pakistani city of Peshawar, home to most of Pakistan’s nearly 40,000 Sikhs. The accident occurred at an unmanned Railway crossing close to the city of Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab,…

"19 Sikh pilgrims killed in Pakistan when train collides with van"

Iran threatens retaliation after what it calls possible cyber attack on nuclear site

DUBAI – Iran will retaliate against any country that carries out cyber attacks on its nuclear sites, the head of civilian defence said, after a fire at its Natanz plant which some Iranian officials said may have been caused by cyber sabotage. The underground Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Iran’s top security body said on Friday…

"Iran threatens retaliation after what it calls possible cyber attack on nuclear site"

Turkey’s Erdogan rejects criticism over status of Hagia Sophia

ANKARA – Criticism of Turkey over the possible conversion of Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia monument from a museum to a mosque “is an attack on Turkey’s sovereignty”, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a building at the heart of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and today one of Turkey’s most visited monuments. “Accusations against our country about Hagia Sophia…

"Turkey’s Erdogan rejects criticism over status of Hagia Sophia"

Citi targets more growth in Saudi Arabia after adding over 20 bankers in two years

DUBAI – Citigroup is planning to hire more bankers in Saudi Arabia for its direct custody business after adding more than 20 for onshore capital markets in the last two years, its Europe, Middle East and Africa head said. The bank, which following a 13-year hiatus returned to Saudi Arabia in 2018 after being granted a capital markets licence, said last year it would also expand its direct custody and clearing services to the oil-rich…

"Citi targets more growth in Saudi Arabia after adding over 20 bankers in two years"

U.S. files suit to seize gasoline in four Iran tankers headed to Venezuela

WASHINGTON – U.S. prosecutors late on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to seize the gasoline aboard four tankers that Iran is shipping to Venezuela, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to increase economic pressure on the two U.S. foes. The government of Venezuelan socialist President Nicolas Maduro has flaunted the tankers, which departed last month, to show it remains unbowed by U.S. pressure. The United States, has been pressing for Maduro’s ouster with a campaign…

"U.S. files suit to seize gasoline in four Iran tankers headed to Venezuela"

Turkey’s wedding halls reopen with lace-trimmed masks and muted celebrations

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey – Bride-to-be Merve Kacar adjusted her gown, placed a crown on her head and added the finishing touch of a lace-trimmed white face mask as she prepared for her wedding in southeast Turkey after a three-month delay. The country allowed wedding halls, along with theatres and internet cafes, to open again from Wednesday as it wound down some of its last major coronavirus curbs in a bid to return life to normal and…

"Turkey’s wedding halls reopen with lace-trimmed masks and muted celebrations"

Coronavirus and sanctions hit Iran’s support of proxies in Iraq

– Iran’s financial and military support for Shi’ite proxy paramilitary groups in Iraq, a linchpin of its regional foreign policy, has been dramatically disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter. Interruptions caused by the virus, including border closings to prevent the spread of the disease, have drastically cut Tehran’s cash supplies to the militia groups in recent months, said three Iraqi paramilitary group commanders and a regional…

"Coronavirus and sanctions hit Iran’s support of proxies in Iraq"

Fire breaks out at Iranian nuclear facility, no casualties reported, officials say

DUBAI – A fire broke out at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility but there were no casualties and the site is operating as usual, Iranian officials said on Thursday. The Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), Iran’s main uranium enrichment site, is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by the United Nations nuclear watchdog. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation initially reported that “an incident” had occurred at the facility in the central province of Isfahan. It later published…

"Fire breaks out at Iranian nuclear facility, no casualties reported, officials say"

Germany tells Turkey travel warning will be regularly reviewed

BERLIN – Germany will keep reviewing travel advice for Turkey, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told his Turkish counterpart on Thursday, saying decisions were coordinated with the European Union (EU) and based on reliable infection data and the health situation. Turkey is disappointed that the EU has excluded it, along with the United States and others, from a list of countries deemed safe for non-essential travel. Ankara has called on the bloc to correct its “mistake”.…

"Germany tells Turkey travel warning will be regularly reviewed"