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    Haj pilgrims yet to receive visas

    KABUL (PAN): Afghan Haj pilgrims are yet to receive visas due to closure of the Saudi embassy in Kabul, a government official said on Saturday.

    The embassy was closed after several gunmen attacked the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office, the US embassy and NATO headquarters on September 13.

    Diplomats were expected to return on Wednesday, but they could not due to non-availability of flights, the deputy hajj minister, Daee Alhaq Abid, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    He said they had contacted Saudi officials through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they promised their staff would return to Kabul on Thursday.

    Although diplomats were yet to arrive, embassy staff reached Kabul on Friday. The ambassador and consul are currently in the United Arab Emirates and will reach here soon.

    No one of the 27,000 Afghans, who registered with the Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs, has so far received visas, he added. With the arrival of the Saudi consul, issuance of visas to pilgrims will start on Sunday.

    frm/mud