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Seb Coe rejects Russia call to reconsider Rio athletes ban

IAAF president Sebastian Coe has rejected the Russian government's call for the federation to reconsider its ban on dozens of Russian athletes from competing at the Rio Olympics.

IAAF president Lord Coe insists Russia, not his organisation, is responsible for the country's drug-free athletes being banned from competing in Brazil. Credit: PA

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko wrote to the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) after the International Olympic Committee ruled it was up to individual sporting federations to decide if Russia's sportsmen and women should miss next month's Games because of the exposed state-sponsored doping scandal.

Lord Coe's reply said last month's ban of 67 Russian athletes, which followed their individual appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will be upheld, adding: "There are no grounds for further review."

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French religious leaders call for unity after priest murder

Representatives of religious communities meet Francois Hollande. Credit: Reuters

Religious leaders in France have called for unity after a meeting with President Francois Hollande.

It follows the murder of a priest in Normandy by supporters of the so-called Islamic State group.

Paris Imam Dalil Boubakeur said France's Muslims must ensure clerics are better trained and called for reform of French Muslim institutions.

The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, called on Catholics to "overcome hatred that comes in their heart" and not to "enter the game" of IS that "wants to set children of the same family in opposition to each other".

French former commissioner appointed Brexit negotiator

Michel Barnier will be the chief negotiators on the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Credit: Reuters

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has appointed French former commissioner Michel Barnier as chief negotiator on the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The appointment comes days after Mr Juncker acknowledged that the UK Government may need several months to prepare its position before negotiations start.

Mr Barnier will report directly to Mr Juncker as head of the Commission Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom.

UK economy grew by 0.6% before Brexit vote

Credit: PA

The UK economy grew by 0.6% during the second quarter of 2016, official figures show.

It follows growth of 0.4% in the first quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.

The expansion in the run up to the EU referendum was driven by industrial production (2.1%) and services (0.5%), but held back by a contraction in construction (0.4%) and agriculture (1%).

The rise in GDP from April to June came in above economists' expectations of 0.5%.

GDP was estimated to have been 7.7% higher in the second quarter than the pre-economic downturn peak of the first quarter of 2008.

Responding to the figures, Chancellor Philip Hammond said:

Today’s GDP figures show that the fundamentals of the British economy are strong. In the second quarter of this year...we saw the strongest quarterly rise in production for nearly twenty years, so it is clear we enter our negotiations to leave the EU from a position of economic strength.

Those negotiations will signal the beginning of a period of adjustment, but I am confident we have the tools to manage the challenges ahead, and along with the Bank of England, this government will take whatever action is necessary to support our economy and maintain business and consumer confidence.

– Chancellor Philip Hammond
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