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Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany
24 June
BERLIN (AP) ? Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal, police said Sunday.
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Prince William's Middle East tour causes controversy as Palestinians claim it is 'indirect apology'
24 June
It is the most challenging diplomatic trip of his lifetime by some measure, walking the tightrope of Middle Eastern politics for five days as he attempts to avoid offending any interested party. The Duke of Cambridge was on Friday night already facing an uphill battle, as Israelis objected to parts of his schedule and Palestinians claimed the trip was an "indirect apology" for Britain's role in the region. The Duke, who will travel to Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories next week, is being offered the support of a group of senior advisers for the trip: the first official visit by the Royal family to the region at the request of government. While Kensington Palace has heavily emphasised that the trip is strictly non-political, with a focus on the people and culture of the region, the details of the Duke's schedule have already proved controversial. Manuel Hassassian,  the Palestinian diplomatic representative in London, told the Telegraph: "Regardless of what the British government does, this visit by itself is a political visit. The Duke will meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister Credit: AP "We don?t care about the official British interpretation, we care about our impression and what the Prince could do and what messages he conveys when he meets both sides. "I think this is a historic and a symbolic visit for the Royal family to visit Occupied Palestine. It reflects that Palestine is a legitimate country and the struggle of the Palestinian people is a legitimate one. "This visit symbolises the acknowledgement that Palestine and its people exist and they have the right to self determination." Referring to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British statement of support for a Jewish homeland, he added: "This visit also is an acknowledgement of what the Balfour Declaration has done to the Palestinian people. It is considered to be an act of indirect apology. He will also meet the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas Credit: Reuters "We hope the prince will be a bridge between Palestinians and Israelis when he visits both sides. Maybe his good office will bring us back together to the negotiating table." Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador in London, said: "It is the first official visit by a senior British royal and Israel will be rolling out the red carpet. You?ve got to remember, we haven?t had royalty since Biblical times and I think people are genuinely very excited. "There?s no doubt that the partnership between Britain and Israel is going from strength to strength and I think the visit is a clear manifestation of the robust nature of the partnership. "No one has any intentions of involving the prince in politics. The goal is to showcase Israel?s achievements and a very strong bilateral partnership. The Duke will be advised by his private secretary Miguel Head Credit: PA "The British side has made clear that the trip is not a political trip and we will be respecting that." Ahead of the trip, the Duke's schedule has drawn criticism from some quarters for appearing to refer to Jerusalem's Old City as being part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ze'ev Elkin, an Israeli minister, said: ?United Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and no distortion in the tour itinerary can change that reality. I expect the prince?s people to correct the distortion.? In fact, the schedule, which follows the geographical definitions accepted by the British government, states that the "programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will begin with a short briefing on the history and geography of Jerusalem's Old City from a viewing point at the Mount of Olives". Jerusalem's Old City Credit: Reuters The Duke?s trip will include visits to key sites in the region, delivering several speeches and meeting local people to celebrate their culture. He will also meet with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.   The Duke will be advised by Sir David Manning, a former British ambassador to Israel who now works for the Royal Household. He will also be joined by both his current private secretary Miguel Head, and the man who will shortly replace him, Simon Case, a civil servant currently tasked with trying to solve the border issue in Northern Ireland and Ireland during Brexit negotiations.   The Mount of Olives Credit: AFP As the trip was announced, a spokesman for Kensington Palace said: "The complex challenges in the region are of course well known. "The non-political nature of His Royal Highness?s role ? in common with all Royal visits overseas ? allows a spotlight to be brought to bear on the people of the region: their cultures, their young people, their aspirations, and their experiences. "In cities with storied histories that are never far from the headlines, The Duke?s goal will be to meet as many people from as many walks of life as possible ? and to use the spotlight that his visit will bring to celebrate their hopes for the future."
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Mohamed Salah given honorary citizenship of Chechnya by strongman ruler accused of human rights abuses
24 June
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been given honorary citizenship in Russia's Chechnya republic by Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman ruler who has been accused of human rights violations including the widespread torture of gay men. Kadyrov handed Mr Salah a decree declaring him a citizen and pinned a medal on his chest at a dinner in honour of the Egypt team, who are training in Chechnya during the World Cup. ?Mohamed Salah thanked us for our surprisingly warm and good hospitality, great affection for the team and excellent conditions for their stay and training,? Kadyrov, who was banned last year from his beloved Instagram, wrote on Russian social network VK. ?I'm sure our Akhmat club and the Egypt team will at some point hold a friendly match in Grozny.? Human rights defenders have condemned the approval of Chechnya as a World Cup training base due to its crackdowns on LGBT people and activists. Alexander Agapov, president of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, said he had questions for FIFA, the Egyptian football association, the Liverpool team and Mr Saleh about the dubious honour bestowed on him. Mo Salaha receiving honour at gala dinner ?It is unacceptable for a footballer who should talk about equality and acceptance of all people in football to receive an award from a man who rejects any equality and acceptance of LGBTi people, who is accused of persecuting gay people and human rights defenders,? Mr Agapov said. At least five died after Chechen authorities rounded up and tortured hundreds of gay men in a witch hunt last year. One victim said he was kept for 12 days in a cell ?doused in blood? and repeatedly beaten with a club until he could no longer stand. Kadyrov told the BBC this month that these allegations were ?made-up? and Chechnya does not have a single gay person. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah  He has exploited the arrival of the international football star to boost his own standing, even dragging Mr Salah out of bed to show him off to thousands of adoring fans at the local stadium. Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch said Kadyrov was ?using the World Cup to gloss over the staggering repressions in Chechnya?. Ramzan Kadyrov The Chechnya director for Russia's oldest human rights group Memorial, Oyub Titiyev, was arrested in January and faces 10 years in jail for drugs, which he said were planted in his car by police. ?If Titiev is not released, it?ll be a dark stain on FIFA. It?ll mean that FIFA hasn?t fully used its leverage with Russian authorities to do the right thing,? Ms Lokshina said.
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