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Iranians will not take part in this year's Mecca pilgrimage because of "obstacles" raised by Saudi Arabia, custodian of Islam's holiest sites, Iran's Culture Minister Ali Jannati said Sunday. In the latest dispute between the two regional rivals, "after two series of negotiations without any results because of obstacles raised by the Saudis, Iranian pilgrims will unfortunately not be able to take part in the hajj" pilgrimage, expected to take place this year in September, he said, quoted by state television. Saudi officials have said an Iranian delegation wrapped up a visit to the kingdom on Friday without reaching a final agreement on arrangements for hajj pilgrims from the Islamic republic.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bonnie soaked the coasts of South Carolina, southeastern North Carolina and eastern Georgia, ruining the start of Memorial Day weekend even as it weakened while moving northward.
By Isabel Coles HASSAN SHAMI, Iraq (Reuters) - Servicemen from the U.S.-led coalition are assisting Kurdish Peshmerga forces in a new offensive in Iraq that aims to retake a handful of villages from Islamic State east of their Mosul stronghold, a coalition spokesman said. Soldiers were seen loading armored vehicles outside the village of Hassan Shami, a few miles east of the frontline, a Reuters correspondent reported. "U.S. and coalition forces are conducting advise and assist operations to help Kurdish Peshmerga forces," U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad told Reuters, commenting on the ground deployment of coalition soldiers seen near the battle front.