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Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

US denial 'outrageous'

Iran’s foreign ministry has hit back at the US after it denied an agreement, also involving the UK, to swap ten prisoners on all sides. Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stressed that the existence of the deal and even an agreement on how to announce it are simple facts. He said the US denying the matter is outrageous. Khatibzadeh said the humanitarian swap was agreed in Vienna, but separate from the nuclear talks. He said Iran is ready to proceed even today. Earlier, Iran’s top negotiator in the Vienna talks said the prisoner exchange could take place on Sunday. But the spokesman for the US State Department denied any deal, outside the framework of the nuclear talks. Ned Price claimed that the prisoner swap is held up by the delay in the nuclear talks. He also accused Iran of an outrageous effort to deflect blame for the impasse in the negotiations.

Europe deadly floods

Rescue workers are still searching for survivors in parts of northwestern Europe after rain-triggered floods caused rivers to burst and houses to collapse there. Days of extreme rainfall in Germany and Belgium have so far claimed the lives of 183 people. With many still missing, the death toll could rise further. In many areas, rescue efforts have been called off and the focus has now shifted to the cleaning operation. The scale of the damage is becoming clear, as waters begin to recede and crews clear the streets of debris. Efforts are also underway to restore gas, electricity, and telephone services. European leaders have blamed climate change for the worst floods in decades. Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have also been effected.

Pandemic-hit Olympics

Concerns grow as the number of COVID-19 infections among Tokyo Olympics athletes is on the rise. Organizers of the games reported three new cases on Sunday. There were also 10 new cases connected to the Olympics, including media, contractors and other personnel. An International Olympic Committee member, who had been inoculated against COVID-19, tested positive for the virus upon landing in Tokyo. This shows the high infection risk even from vaccinated attendees. Infection rates are climbing among the general population of the capital, topping 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days. Polls show many Japanese oppose holding the Games with the influx of overseas visitors it entails.

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