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Ahmadinejad thanks Pope for condemning Koran burning

TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written a letter to Pope Benedict XVI thanking him for condemning an American pastor’s threat to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. "I thank you for your stance in condemning the unwise act of a church in Florida, America, in insulting the word of …

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UN envoys put spotlight on Sudan conflict fears

JUBA: Chanting crowds greeted UN Security Council ambassadors in the Sudan region that wants to become the world’s newest nation as international leaders highlighted the risk of conflict there. Even Hollywood star George Clooney is in South Sudan raising his fears of "war" ahead of the January 9 referendum on whether it should break away …

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Karzai inaugurates Afghan peace council

KABUL: President Hamid Karzai on Thursday inaugurated a peace council appointed to broker an end to the war in Afghanistan amid mounting reports about secret peace talks as the conflict entered a 10th year. The High Peace Council is Karzai’s brainchild for opening a dialogue with the Taliban and other insurgents who have been trying …

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Four wounded in Israeli raids on Gaza, say witnesses, Hamas

GAZA CITY: Israeli warplanes staged three raids in the Gaza Strip overnight wounding four Palestinians, Hamas security officials and witnesses said Thursday. Two people were wounded in strikes on the east and west of Gaza City and two others were hurt in a third attack on the centre of the Gaza Strip, they said. An …

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Abbas heads to Arab meet with backing to quit talks

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has strong backing on Thursday to quit peace talks after inconclusive US efforts to strike a compromise with Israel over settlements. The Palestinian leader is to make a final decision on whether to stick with the US-led negotiations after meeting with the Arab League Follow-Up Committee for the peace process …

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Rival Palestinian factions to meet Oct 20, says Hamas

GAZA CITY: The bitterly divided Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas plan to hold a second round of reconciliation talks in Syria on Oct. 20, a senior Gaza-based Hamas official said on Tuesday. "A joint meeting of Hamas and Fatah has been arranged for Oct. 20 in Damascus after a previous meeting between us which had …

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Police arrest Egyptian in Bosnia, ‘threat’ to security

SARAJEVO: Bosnian police arrested on Tuesday an Egyptian citizen considered a threat to national security and detained him ahead of extradition to his home country, the security ministry said. Ahmed Mohamed Elfarahati Othman, who had temporary residence in Bosnia, would be extradited in the "coming days" to Egypt, the ministry said in a statement quoted …

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More journalists killed in Iraq than in 2009, says IPI

VIENNA: More journalists have been killed in Iraq so far this year than in all of 2009, press watchdog IPI said Tuesday in a statement. Tahrir Kadhim Jawad, a cameraman for the al-Hurra satellite channel, was killed Monday when a magnetic "sticky bomb" attached to his car detonated in the town of Garma, 50 kilometers …

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‘Ailing’ Saudi crown prince receives top visitor

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is believed to be seriously ill, received his brother in Morocco Wednesday, the state news agency said, in the first official report on Sultan in one month. Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, who as second deputy prime minister is considered by analysts second in …

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Afghan police seize ‘explosives from Iran’

HEART: Afghan police said Wednesday they had seized nearly 20 tonnes of explosives stashed in boxes marked "food, toys and kitchenware" that were imported from neighboring Iran. The discovery was made Tuesday in a customs office in the western province of Nimroz on the Iranian border, deputy provincial police chief, Mohammad Musa Rasouli, told AFP. …

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Clinton says it is ‘difficult’ dealing with Khartoum

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded Tuesday how "difficult" it is dealing with the Sudanese government in Khartoum, three months before a vote on independence for the south. "It is going to be hard, and it is difficult to deal with Khartoum, try to figure out what they want and how they are …

AFP

Turkish company shoots Israel raid film on stormed ship

A Turkish production company is shooting parts of a film on Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on one of the stormed vessels, a company official said Tuesday. Istanbul-based Pana Film has been using the passenger ferry, Mavi Marmara, since October 1 to film scenes from the movie, "Valley of the Wolves – …

AFP

‘Enhanced e-books’ take world’s biggest book fair by storm

Is it a book? Is it a film? Is it a game? Or all three? Publishers and authors at the world’s biggest book fair are battling to entice a new generation of readers with the latest multimedia products. That the electronic book reader has turned the book industry on its head is well known. Younger …

AFP

Battered Dubai property still subdued but optimism emerging

DUBAI: Dubai faces an uphill struggle to revive its real estate sector that was battered by the global financial crisis, but industry reps at a subdued property fair in the once-thriving emirate see signs of hope. At the prestigious Cityscape show — an event celebrated over the boom years for rolling out grandiose developments — …

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Polish archive, Israeli spar over father’s Holocaust diary

WARSAW: The Israeli daughter of a Holocaust survivor who kept a diary in hiding during World War II wants it back from a Polish-Jewish archive, but officials refuse. It belongs to the nation, they say. Composer Ella Milch-Sheriff told AFP she was appealing to Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute to give her the crucial chronicle of …

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South Korea in talks to upgrade Libya’s diplomatic mission

SEOUL: South Korea is holding talks with Libya about upgrading its diplomatic office in Seoul to a formal embassy after resolving a diplomatic row, the South’s acting foreign minister said Monday. Vice Foreign Minister Shin Kak-Soo told parliament that "various measures" are under consideration to strengthen relations. "We are in talks with Libya to upgrade …

AFP

Irish Nobel laureate faces top Israeli court to appeal ban

JERUSALEM: Irish Nobel laureate and peace activist Mairead Maguire was on Monday appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court to cancel a deportation order barring her from Israel for 10 years, legal sources said. Maguire was to appear before three Supreme Court justices in a bid to overturn a court decision handed down on Friday which …

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Five Algerian soldiers killed in Islamist attacks, says media

ALGIERS: Militants attacked soldiers hunting down Islamist fighters in eastern Algeria at the weekend, killing five of the troops and wounding 10 more, newspaper reports said Monday. A remote-controlled bomb exploded as troops passed the Zekri forest in the Kabylie region late Saturday and then militants opened fire with automatic weapons, according to the Al …

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Wanted Saudi killed in Afghanistan strike, says report

DUBAI: A Saudi Islamist fighter wanted by authorities in his home country has been killed in a US air strike in Afghanistan, the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily reported on Monday. Saad Mohammed al-Shihri was killed "in an air strike by American forces on a position where Al-Qaeda members were meeting," the Saudi-owned newspaper said. He was …

AFP

Five killed in Iraq violence

BAGHDAD: Five people were killed in violence in Baghdad and central Iraq on Monday, including a roadside bomb targeting a junior minister, medical and security officials said. A convoy transporting Fuad al-Mussawi, a deputy minister of science and technology, struck a bomb along a road in the upscale neighborhood of Jadriyah, in the centre of …

AFP

Vandals torch mosque in southern West Bank

BEIT FAJJAR: Vandals spray-painted and torched a mosque in the southern West Bank very early Monday in an attack Palestinian witnesses and officials blamed on Israeli settlers. They said six armed men in a white car drove into Beit Fajjar village near Bethlehem at 3:00 am (0100 GMT) and spray-painted Hebrew insults on the walls …

AFP

Syria orders 33 arrests over Hariri probe, says general

BEIRUT: Syria has ordered the arrest of 33 people over false testimony given in the UN-backed probe into the assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, a general held over the killing and his lawyers said. Jamil Sayyed, the former head of Lebanon’s security services, said the top investigating judge in Damascus had issued arrest warrants …

AFP

Half of Israel cabinet opposes settlement curbs, says poll

JERUSALEM: Half of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing government opposes the extension of a settlement moratorium seen as key to US-led peace efforts, a poll showed on Monday. The findings indicate Netanyahu would face an uphill battle in convincing his coalition to back a reported deal under which Israel would extend the curbs in …

AFP

Egypt archaeologists find statue of Tutankhamen’s granddad

CAIRO: Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the upper part of a 3,000-year-old statue of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, believed to be the grandfather of the young King Tutankhamen, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said on Saturday. "The statue was found near the northern entrance of Amenhotep III’s temple and depicts the king sitting down on a throne …

AFP

Arab League to hold meeting key to peace talks on Friday

CAIRO: The Arab League will hold a meeting next Friday seen as key to saving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, ahead of a summit in Libya, an official told AFP. "It has been decided that the Arab committee for peace will meet on Oct.8 in the Libyan city of Sirte," Ahmed bin Hilli, the Arab League’s deputy …

AFP

Israeli court convicts troops of using human shield in Gaza

JERUSALEM: An Israeli military court convicted two soldiers on Sunday of using a Palestinian child as a human shield by forcing him to check for booby traps during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. A transcript of the court decision made available by the army said the infantry sergeants were found guilty of "exceeding their authority to …

AFP

Afghanistan bans security firms, including ex-Blackwater

KABUL: Afghanistan has formally banned eight foreign private security firms, including the controversial company formerly called Blackwater, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said Sunday. The Afghan government announced in August that it was giving security firms working in Afghanistan four months to cease operations, potentially hitting hard efforts by NATO-led troops fighting a nine-year …

AFP

Libya releases South Korean pastor as diplomatic row ebbs

SEOUL: Libya has released a South Korean Christian pastor arrested for allegedly violating religious laws as Tripoli promised to end a months-long diplomatic row with Seoul, the foreign ministry said Sunday. The pastor and another South Korean national accused of aiding him were set free on Saturday night, Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman told AFP. The …

AFP

Ahmadinejad says US has ‘dragged the world in mud’

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a vitriolic tirade against the United States and Israel on Sunday as he cast fresh doubt on the September 11 attacks, state media reported. "They have such nerve to threaten us and say all options are on the table. May the undertaker take you, your tables… away as you …

AFP

PLO backs quitting peace talks over Israeli settlements

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian leadership ruled out further peace talks with Israel as long as it continued settlement construction in the occupied territories. The decision by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saturday strengthened president Mahmoud Abbas, who has threatened to shun US-backed talks relaunched a month ago over the recent resumption of building in the West …

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