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Palestinians Seek Date with Freedom at U.N.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas Monday vowed to submit a bid for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state this week, amid warnings that sticking to the status quo could fuel "an explosion of violence."

Despite strong opposition from Israel and the United States, Abbas met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to tell him he would go ahead with the controversial move on Friday.

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Berlusconi Attends Court for Graft Hearing

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi showed up in court in Milan Monday for a hearing into claims he paid a lawyer 416,000 Euros ($600,000) for false testimony about his business dealings.

The embattled Berlusconi, who faces a string of other court cases, is alleged to have paid the money to his former British lawyer David Mills for false testimony in a case dating back to the 1990s.

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PLO Council in Show of Support for Abbas at U.N.

Members of the Palestinian parliament in exile met in Ramallah on Monday to show support for the campaign to seek full membership in the United Nations, a senior official said.

Some 50 members of the Palestinian National Council, which has 669 seats and represents Palestinians worldwide, met at al-Amari refugee camp.

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Israel Ends Police Cooperation with Turkey‎

Israel said on Monday it was withdrawing its police representative from Turkey and ending bilateral cooperation between their forces as the diplomatic crisis between the two former allies deepened.

"Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has ordered the transfer to Bucharest of the Israel Police representative in Ankara," ministry spokesman Tal Volovich told Agence France Presse.

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Koreas' Talks Could Spark Disarmament Progress

A meeting Wednesday of the rival Koreas' nuclear envoys could provide crucial momentum toward restarting disarmament talks, just months after the two countries were threatening to bomb each other into rubble.

Relations are still complicated and wariness lingers as the envoys prepare for face-to-face talks in Beijing that aim to build on their surprise meeting in July — which was seen as a small breakthrough after months of acrimony.

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Juppe Fears 'Explosion of Violence' in Mideast

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe Monday warned of the risk of an "explosion of violence" if the Palestinian situation is not resolved, saying the status quo was "neither acceptable nor tenable."

"The relaunch of the peace process is needed," Juppe told an audience at a think-tank in New York, amid frantic diplomatic efforts to stop the Palestinians seeking U.N. recognition of their statehood.

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U.S. Stocks Tumble on U.S., Europe Worries

U.S. stocks opened sharply lower Monday amid worries about the Greek sovereign debt crisis and the political battle over U.S. deficit reduction.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 171.73 points (1.49 percent) to 11,337.36 in the first five minutes of trade.

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Energy Chief Says U.S. Firm Drilling for Gas Off Cyprus

U.S. firm Noble has began exploratory drilling for gas off divided Cyprus's southern coast, ignoring Turkish warnings it would retaliate by launching its own explorations in the eastern Mediterranean.

Director of the Cypriot energy services Solon Kassinis told the semi-official Cyprus News Agency that Noble had started drilling for natural gas from its Aphrodite platform inside the island's exclusive economic zone on Sunday night.

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Saudi Beheads Sudanese 'Sorcerer'

Saudi Arabia beheaded a Sudanese man by sword in the western city of Medina on Monday after he was convicted of practicing sorcery, the interior ministry announced.

Abdul Hamid al-Fakki "practiced witchcraft and sorcery," which are illegal under Saudi Arabia's Islamic sharia law, said a ministry statement carried by state news agency SPA.

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Bulgaria Opens its First Museum of Socialist Art

Twenty-two years after the fall of its communist regime, Bulgaria opened on Monday its first-ever museum of the state-sponsored, propaganda art characteristic of that era.

The Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia exhibits some 77 sculptures, 60 paintings and 25 smaller plastic art works created between 1945 and 1989 by the most renowned sculptors and painters of the time.

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