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Haramain railway connecting Mecca and Medina part of plan to increase visitor numbers Saudi Arabia's King Salman has inaugurated a high-speed rail link between the two holiest cities in Islam, part of efforts to boost tourism as the country seeks to shed dependence on oil exports. The 280-mile (450-km) Haramain railway connecting Mecca and Medina with the Red Sea city of Jeddah cost 6bn ($7.87bn) and is one of the largest transport projects in the Middle East, targeting nearly 60 million passengers annually.
Trump claims he politely declined meeting with Iranian president at the UN this week, but says 'maybe someday in the future'Trump speaks at United Nations - live updates. Donald Trump has made a personal rapprochement to Hassan Rouhani, saying he was sure that the Iranian president was an absolutely lovely man. Related: Trump plans new Kim summit a year after threat to destroy North Korea Continue reading.
President to honour families of Algerians who sided with France in war of independence Emmanuel Macron will offer honours and a financial support package to the families of Algerians who aided French troops in the war of independence, as part of a wider policy of confronting his country's colonial legacy in north Africa. Earlier this month, the French president took the historic step of acknowledging for the first time that France carried out systematic torture during the 1954-62 conflict. Related: 'My father was tortured and murdered in Algeria.
Officials call for international partners in fight against Islamic State Kurdish officials have said the international community is shirking its responsibilities by not taking back captured foreign members of Islamic State currently being held by its forces in north-eastern Syria. The US-backed Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently approaching the final stages of a campaign to drive the remnants of the jihadi group from the eastern desert and expect to detain more foreign fighters in the coming weeks. Related: Aggrieved Kurdish fighters quietly join Syrian regime side in battle for Idlib Continue reading.
Laura Plummer to serve three-year sentence for bringing 290 painkillers into country A British woman jailed in Egypt for possessing controlled drugs has been refused permission to appeal against her conviction. Laura Plummer was sentenced to three years in prison for bringing 290 tramadol tablets into the country. She had told the court they were for her partner's back pain.
Humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock fears a 'huge loss of life' as fighting continues A famine inflicting huge loss of life could strike at any time in Yemen, as food prices soar and the battle rages over the country's main port, the UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, has warned. Lowcock said that by the time an imminent famine is confirmed, it would be too late to stop it. Accelerating economic collapse has caused prices of staples to increase by 30% at a time many millions of Yemenis were already finding it hard to feed their families.
President Hassan Rouhani claimed US-backed rivals were accountable for the attack, which killed at least 29 people Iran has vowed a crushing response to Saturday's terrorist attack on a military parade that killed at least 29 people, including conscripts and children, as it accused its US-backed regional rivals of incubating insurgent separatist groups. In the deadliest terrorist attack Iran has seen in years, four assailants disguised in military uniforms opened fire when military personnel were marching in front of a viewing platform in the southwestern city of Ahvaz. Related: Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani: US sympathizes with Iran regime change Continue reading.
Former New York mayor addresses exile group in Manhattan'I say to the Iranian government, you must truly be afraid'. Donald Trump's attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, told members of Iran's self-declared government in exile on Saturday the US sympathizes with their efforts to overthrow that country's official government. Related: Iran summons UK, Dutch and Danish envoys over attack on military parade Related: Iranian exiles, DC lobbyists and the campaign to delist the MEK Continue reading.
In video, man gives name as Anwar Miah and says he has been in Syria for nearly four years A man who says he is a pharmacist from Birmingham has been detained in Syria on suspicion of being a member of Islamic State. A video of the blindfolded man being questioned by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed Kurdish militia, was posted on the Twitter account of International Volunteers Report on Saturday. The group said he had been captured in the city of Deir ez-Zor a month ago.
Rubble left after Israeli airstrikes is being used to repair roads and rebuild houses in coastal enclave. Palestinians in Gaza have developed an industry that recycles twisted steel bars and smashed-up concrete from bombed structures as a way to rebuild the coastal enclave. In a trapped society living under persistent attack, the reuse of materials has become a vital part of a construction sector flailing under the strain of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricts imports.
Tehran accuses countries of hosting members of 'terrorist group' that claimed responsibility for attack Iran has summoned envoys from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark over Saturday's deadly shooting of 29 people at a military parade in the south of the country, state media has reported. The British charge d'affaires, along with the Dutch and Danish ambassadors, were informed of Iran's strong protests over their respective countries' hosting of some members of the terrorist group which carried out the attack, the official news agency Irna said. Related: Terrorists kill Iranian children and soldiers in military parade attack Related: Iran accuses Trump of 'bullying' other countries into anti-Tehran stance Continue reading.
Army says all 38 other passengers rescued from boat trying to reach Europe A child has drowned after a boat carrying 39 migrants trying to reach Europe capsized off the northern coast of Lebanon, the army has said. All other passengers were rescued off the coast of Akkar province, the army said, claiming that the Syrian migrants were being smuggled to Cyprus. Continue reading.
At least eight dead after two gunmen open fire on Revolutionary Guard in Ahvaz Gunmen have attacked a military parade in the south-west Iranian city of Ahvaz, killing at least eight members of the Revolutionary Guard and wounding 20 people, state media said. The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the wounded included a woman and a child but did not elaborate. Continue reading.
Since Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 it has built a 2,700km desert barrier keeping independence-seeking Sahrawis out of the resource-rich west Donald Trump was widely ridiculed earlier this week for suggesting that Spain emulate his $25bn dream for the US-Mexico border and build a wall across the Sahara desert. Related: Donald Trump urged Spain to 'build the wall' - across the Sahara Continue reading..
'The under-layer is very tragic,' says artist whose living rooms expose deep divide An art exhibition in Jerusalem that gives Israelis the chance to experience a Palestinian family's living room - by wearing virtual reality goggles - has laid bare the entrenched separation of two societies that live side by side but, increasingly, worlds apart. The Israel Museum, where the exhibition is being held, is less than two miles from Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem where thousands of Palestinians live. And it is only six miles from the West Bank village where the family who agreed to be filmed for the project live.
Advice reflects frustration at Tehran's handling of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case The British Foreign Office has warned all UK/Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran unless they have an urgent reason to do so. The advice reflects the frustration of the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, at the way in which the Iranians are treating dual-national consular cases, including the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Continue reading.
Save the Children warns of 'starvation on an unprecedented scale' as conflict disrupts food supplies More than five million children are at risk of famine in Yemen as the ongoing war causes food and fuel prices to soar across the country, charity Save the Children has warned. Disruption to supplies coming through the embattled Red Sea port of Hodeida could cause starvation on an unprecedented scale, the British-based NGO said in a new report. Related: Yemen: 'dramatic deterioration' after talks collapse and port city bombarded Related: Saudis admit error over deaths of second group of Yemeni children Continue reading.
Surprise initiative welcome respite for Syrian opposition and people of the province Relieved locals and rebel groups in Idlib have been trying to unpick details of an eleventh-hour truce that excludes much of the northern Syrian province from a Russian-led attack for at least one month and sets up a buffer zone intended to shield 3 million civilians. The surprise initiative, brokered by Turkey and Russia on Monday, assuages fears of an immediate widespread humanitarian catastrophe and sets the scene for a swathe of northern Syria to remain out of central government control indefinitely. Related: Syria conflict: why does Idlib matter and what could happen? Related: The Guardian view on Idlib: nowhere left to go | Editorial Continue reading.
Seth Anziska is fired by personal transformation and intellectual rigour - but never lapses into propaganda This splendid book by a young American Jewish scholar is the product of an early emotional and intellectual transformation. Related: Palestinians still live under apartheid in Israel, 25 years after the Oslo accord | Avi Shlaim Why were Palestinians unable to move freely in the same space where I, a US citizen, could come and go as I pleased? Related: 'Our memories have vanished': the Palestinian theatre destroyed in a bomb strike Continue reading..
Plan lessens risk of humanitarian disaster affecting 3 million people in last major Syrian rebel enclave The immediate risk of a humanitarian disaster in the last major Syrian rebel enclave of Idlib appears to have been averted by a joint Russian-Turkish plan to set up a demilitarised zone as a buffer between the Syrian army and the rebels. The plan was agreed on Monday by Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a bilateral summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Related: Syria conflict: why does Idlib matter and what could happen? Continue reading.