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Watch: Football legend Lionel Messi visits Expo 2020 Dubai

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Football legend Lionel Messi visited the site of Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday, where he toured the pavilions of the United Arab Emirates and Argentina and met with officials.
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The Argentinian sports star met with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, as well as Minister of Culture and Youth Noura bint Mohammed al-Kaabi.
“Each pavilion has its own thing, its own place, it shows you its culture, its country, it makes you see and learn from each one of them. And I think the place is very big and very impressive,” Messi told Expo reporters.
“When I [visited in 2020], there was practically nothing, and in a year and a bit they turned it into something extraordinary.”
Videos and photos shared by Expo visitors showed crowds surrounding Messi as he toured different parts of the world’s largest fair, including the famous waterfall attraction near al-Wasl Plaza and Jubilee Park.
There were also videos shared showing fans chasing after the golf cart that was transporting Messi through the site.
The Argentinian football player had signed a contract with Expo 2020 Dubai taking on an international role as an ambassador “of the world's greatest show,” according to state news agency WAM.
As of December 13, Expo 2020 Dubai had seen a staggering 6.3 million visits since it first opened its doors to the public on October 1.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, organizers have maintained preventative measures that apply to all visitors, staff and volunteers. Everyone must be vaccinated or is required to provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the visit.
Face masks are also required both indoor and outdoor. Sanitization stations can be found throughout the Expo site.

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Saudi tourist killed by elephant in Uganda park

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A Saudi tourist was trampled to death by an elephant during a game drive at a popular park in Uganda, a wildlife official said Wednesday.

The attack happened on Tuesday at the Murchison Falls National Park when the man left the vehicle he was travelling in with friends, said Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesman Bashir Hangi.

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“They stopped along the way and the deceased went out of the car, an elephant charged at him, killed him on the spot,” Hangi said in a statement.

The victim was identified as Ayman Sayed Elshahany.

Park officials said police will investigate Elshahany’s death as they review security protocols to “avoid repeat of such incidents.”

Animal attacks are not unheard of in the East African country.

In 2018, a leopard snatched and ate the three-year-old son of a female game ranger at another park in the west of the country.

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US responds to Russia’s security demands in Ukraine crisis

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The US delivered its response to Russia’s security demands, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, the latest step in the high-stakes diplomacy over Moscow’s buildup of troops on Ukraine’s border.

The response delivered by Ambassador John Sullivan on Wednesday sets out “a serious diplomatic path forward, Blinken told reporters in Washington. “We are open to dialogue, we prefer diplomacy. It remains up to Russia to decide how to respond. We are ready either way.

The report delivered to officials in Moscow largely sticks to points made by Blinken and other US officials: It rejects Russia’s demand that NATO close its door to potential Ukraine membership in the future, but offers suggestions for areas of mutual interest, such as arms control talks and greater transparency over troop movements and military exercises, Blinken said.

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“We will uphold the principle of NATO’s open door, Blinken said, repeating the US and European position that Russia shouldn’t get to dictate which nations join the military alliance.

“We also do lay out areas where we believe that together we could actually advance security for everyone, including for Russia, Blinken said.

The top US diplomat said he expects to speak with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the “coming days, adding that the US response won’t be released publicly.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to speak to reporters soon on the alliance’s response to Russia.

Tensions have soared as Russia masses more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, though officials in Moscow have repeatedly said they have no intention of invading the country.

Nevertheless, a top official of the pro-Kremlin ruling party who’s also a senior member of the Senate, Andrey Turchak, suggested it could send “certain weapons to the separatists it backs in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Openly arming the separatists would undermine Russia’s claims — rejected by Ukraine and the West — that it’s not a party to the conflict.

Russia has said it will decide on whether to continue diplomatic efforts with the US and its allies based on the written answers.

The Kremlin has said it wants the US to respond to its key demands — no further expansion of NATO to the east, no deployments of weapons there that can strike Russia and a pullback of alliance forces in the region — even though Washington has made clear those are non-starters.

Moscow has said previously that the talks the US did offer publicly on limiting missiles and reducing risks around military maneuvers were positive, but not sufficient to address its security concerns.

Even as talks continued and Russia awaited the replies in recent days, the Kremlin continued its buildup of troops, tanks and equipment near Ukraine’s borders, with a major deployment to Belarus for exercises. Russia has said the forces aren’t a threat to anyone, but has refused Western calls to reverse the buildup.

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US puts 8,500 troops on heightened alert amid Russia-Ukraine heightened tensions

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US to shut down Afghan embassy, strip diplomats of immunity: Sources

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The US government has informed Afghanistan’s diplomats that they will shut down the embassy in Washington and the consulate missions in Los Angeles and New York, sources familiar with the matter tell Al Arabiya English.

The Afghan diplomats will also be stripped of their diplomatic immunity, according to a memo sent to the Afghan diplomats at the beginning of the week.

– Developing

Read more: Once-bustling Afghan Embassy in US down to few diplomats

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