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US Denies Iran’s Zarif A Visa To Attend UN Meeting – US Official 

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US Denies Iran's Zarif A Visa To Attend Un Meet - US Official 

Amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States over the assassination of Iran’s most prominent military commander by the US, Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif has reportedly been denied a visa to America to attend the UN Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday.

According to media reports, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the US denied a visa to Zarif but the U.S. State Department declined immediate comment.

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As quoted by Reuters, Iran’s mission to the United Nations said: “We have seen the media reports, but we have not received any official communication from either the U.S. or the U.N. regarding Foreign Minister Zarif’s visa.”

Zarif last traveled to New York in September for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations – after the United States sanctioned him for implementing “the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader.”

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The killing of General Qassem Soleimani on Friday in Baghdad, along with Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is “an obvious example of state terrorism and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular … the Charter of the United Nations,” Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier on Monday. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement the pair discussed events in the Middle East and that Pompeo “expressed his appreciation” for Guterres’ diplomatic efforts.

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Under the 1947 UN “headquarters agreement,” the US is generally required to allow access to the UN for foreign diplomats. But Washington says it can deny visas for “security, terrorism and foreign policy” reasons.

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United Kingdom: Snow And Rain Force Closure Of 250 Schools

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United Kingdom: Snow And Rain Force Closure Of 250 Schools

Storm Dennis has continued to ravage parts of England as more than 250 schools were closed across northern England because of heavy snow and rain.  Warnings of further flooding have been issued.

Across county Durham, more than a hundred fifty nurseries, schools, and colleges, were shut on Monday because of inclement weather. In north Yorkshire, more than fifty schools either started late or remained shut.  The stories were similar in Cumbria, Northumberland, and Leeds where some schools started late to allow students and staff more time to get in.

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Roads were blocked across the region as vehicles got stuck in the snow.

Further south, a severe flood warning that spells imminent danger to life continues. The environment agency has warned of the continuing danger of flooding across England.

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Kuwait, Bahrain Announce First Coronavirus Cases

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Kuwait, Bahrain Announce First Coronavirus Cases

Kuwait and Bahrain have both confirmed novel coronavirus cases in their countries.  Kuwait has identified three infections and Bahrain one.

Kuwaiti health ministry said in a statement posted on twitter, cases have been identified of a 53-year-old Kuwaiti man, a 61-year-old Saudi citizen and a 21-year-old stateless Arab coming from the Iranian holy city of Mashhad.

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The health ministry said all three cases are under constant observation.

Kuwait banned entry of all ships from the Islamic republic and suspended flights to and from the country.  The country has also banned non-citizens from Iran from entering the gulf state.  Kuwait had flown back hundreds of Kuwaiti shiite pilgrims from Iran.

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Malaysia’s Mahathir Quits But Asked To Stay As Interim PM

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Malaysia's Mahathir Quits But Asked To Stay As Interim PM

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has on Monday unexpectedly announced his resignation but was asked to stay on as interim leader by the country’s monarch until a successor is appointed.

The resignation of the 94-year-old came after months of rising tensions in the “Pact of Hope” coalition, which stormed to a shock victory in 2018 against a corruption-plagued government that had ruled Malaysia for six decades.

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According to Reuters news agency, Mahathir also reportedly resigned from his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

Mahathir’s party also announced that it was quitting the ruling government coalition, Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), casting doubt on the future of the partnership.

At the 2018 polls Mahathir and his old rival Ibrahim Anwar put their differences aside and joined forces to take on a corruption-plagued government.

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Mahathir, who previously served as premier from 1981 to 2003, had made a pre-election pledge to hand power to Anwar but has repeatedly refused to fix a date.

On Monday, Chief Secretary Mohd Zuki Ali said in a statement the king accepted Mahathir’s resignation after meeting with Mahathir.

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Mohd Zuki said “His Highness has given his assent to appoint Mahathir Mohamad as interim prime minister, while waiting for the appointment of the new prime minister. Hence until then, (Mahathir) will manage the country’s affairs until a new prime minister and cabinet are appointed.”

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