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    Saudi embassy set to reopen

    KABUL (PAN): The Saudi Arabia embassy in Kabul is expected to resume its operations soon, an official said on Thursday.

    Saudi embassy diplomats and workers are due back in Kabul later in the day to begin issuing visas to pilgrims next Saturday, Daee Alhaq Abid, the deputy hajj and awqaf minister, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    The embassy was closed down after several gunmen stormed a high-rise, under-construction building in the Abdul Haq Square near it on September 13 and began firing at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office, the US embassy, NATO headquarters and some government compounds.

    The diplomats were expected to arrive in the country on Wednesday, but they could not due to non-availability of flights, he said, adding they had contacted Saudi officials through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They promised their staff would return to Kabul later today.

    Previously, flights from Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul to Makkah were scheduled on Wednesday and Friday respectively, but they were delayed for two days, Abid said, expecting more than a thousand Afghan pilgrims would receive visas on Saturday.

    Abid added: “We have submitted 21,000 passports to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs for visas so far.” Two airlines would start hajj flights on Sunday, he concluded.

    Around 30,000 Afghans are due to perform Hajj this year.