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Saudi Arabia, Other Muslim Nations Declare Monday First Day of Ramadan

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Monday in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates; it was officially announced in all six countries.

Saudi state television al-Ekhbariya said Ramadan will begin on Monday in the kingdom, home to Islam's holiest shrines, Mecca and Medina, because the sighting of the new moon could not be confirmed by the authorities.

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Yemeni Tribes form Coalition against Saleh

Influential Yemeni tribal leaders on Saturday announced the creation of a coalition to bolster six months of popular protests to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Ali Abdullah Saleh will not rule us as long as I am alive," Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, the powerful head of the Hashid tribe, said after being appointed head of the new coalition, an AFP correspondent reported.

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Mubarak to be Tried at Cairo Police Academy

Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who faces trial next week accused ordering troops to fire on protesters, will appear in court at the Cairo Police Academy, the appeals court said Saturday.

The trial would open on Wednesday and be held "inside the Police Academy in Masr el-Gedida" in northern Cairo for security reasons, said the court's president, Abdel Aziz Omar.

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Report: Two Turkish Soldiers Killed in Clashes

Two Turkish soldiers were killed and two others wounded in separate clashes around Turkey, Anatolia news agency reported Saturday.

Kurdish separatist rebels killed one soldier when they opened fire overnight from Friday to Saturday on a military unit patrolling on a road near the village of Beyyurdu in the country's southeast, near the border with Iran and Iraq, Anatolia said.

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Syrian Colonel Claims Defection, Warns Regime

A Syrian army colonel said on Saturday that he has defected with "hundreds" of soldiers and warned the regime against launching a crackdown on the eastern oil hub of Deir al-Zour.

The man, identifying himself as Colonel Riad al-Asaad, said in a telephone call to Agence France Presse in Nicosia that he was speaking from inside Syria "near the Turkish border."

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Moroccan King Wants Quick Election, Improved Algeria Ties

Morocco's King Mohammed VI called Saturday for speedy elections and the reopening of his country's border with Algeria in his first throne speech since a referendum voted to curb some of his prerogatives.

In the July 1 referendum, more than 98 percent of Moroccans approved a set of political reforms backed by the king following a series of youth-led, pro-democracy demonstrations in several cities.

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Iraq Slims Unity Cabinet

MPs slashed the size of Iraq's national unity cabinet by a third on Saturday after a visit to parliament by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who has called for his bloated government to be slimmed down.

The deal immediately cut 14 junior minister posts.

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U.S. to Talk Nuclear Cooperation with Saudi Arabia

The United States plans talks with Saudi Arabia on civilian nuclear cooperation, people familiar with the plans said, in a step that has already set off fierce criticism on Capitol Hill.

With the United States hoping to head off an arms race in response to Iran's nuclear program, officials from President Barack Obama's administration plan to head to Riyadh in the coming week for nuclear talks, the sources said.

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Syrian Troops Kill 3 Stone-Throwers as Tanks Storm Deir al-Zour

Syrian troops shot dead three people on Saturday when villagers hurled stones at their convoy as it advanced on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, an activist told Agence France Presse in Nicosia.

Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said a convoy of about 60 military vehicles, including tanks, was moving towards Deir al-Zour when people from Tibneh village attacked them with stones.

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More than 40 Dead in South Yemen Violence

At least 42 people have died in violence near Yemen's southern city of Zinjibar, most of which has fallen under the control of spected al-Qaida militants, military and local sources said on Saturday.

Eleven people including top officers were killed in fierce clashes between the army and militants in Dofas, a village 15 kilometers south of Abyan's provincial capital of Zinjibar, they said.

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