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U.S. Warns NATO it Won't be able to Fill Defense Gaps

The U.S. military faces serious budget cuts and will be unable to make up any shortfalls in the NATO alliance as European members slash defense spending, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta warned Wednesday.

Fiscal pressures are bearing down on both sides of the Atlantic and NATO allies will need to work closely together to pool funds, instead of counting on America's much larger defense spending to close the gap, Panetta said.

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Saudi Shiite Cleric Urges Protesters to Avoid Violence

A prominent Saudi Shiite cleric has urged protesters to use "words" rather than "bullets" in their fight for equality in the Sunni-ruled kingdom after violent clashes in a Shiite village.

In a sermon to worshippers at a mosque in the village of al-Awamiya late Tuesday, Sheikh Nimr Nimr said Shiites must "not respond to bullets with bullets," according to the text of the sermon published online.

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France Says Chinese, Russian Veto 'Sad Day for Syrians’

The decision by Russia and China to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution targeting Syria marked a "sad day for the Syrian people" and for the council itself, France said Wednesday.

"The Security Council should not remain silent in the face of the Syrian tragedy," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement, after the veto blocked the European call for "targeted measures" against Damascus.

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Kuwait Braces for Showdown over Graft Scandal

OPEC member Kuwait is bracing for a major political showdown over a graft scandal involving MPs as the opposition mounts a fierce campaign to oust the prime minister.

Liberal, nationalist and Islamist opposition groups have united following allegations that pro-government MPs accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes, with fingers pointed at the government as the source of the money.

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Syrian Infiltration and Raid on Homes of Lebanese Brothers in Arsal

Syrian troops infiltrated into Lebanese territory on Tuesday and raided the homes of two brothers in the eastern town of Arsal, the third such infiltration in two weeks.

An Nahar daily on Wednesday quoted an eyewitness identified by his initials as H.S. as saying that two BTR-type armored personnel carriers along with a pickup carrying Syrian soldiers crossed the border at around 4:00 pm in the area of Kherbet Daoud.

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China Says U.N. Motion 'Would Not Ease' Syria Situation

China said Wednesday a U.N. Security Council resolution it vetoed threatening action against Syria for its deadly crackdown on protests would have "blindly" pressured the Arab nation and not helped.

The comments came after Russia and China blocked a Security Council motion calling for "targeted measures" if Syria's President Bashar Assad pursues his clampdown, which the U.N. says has left at least 2,700 dead.

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Reports: Turkish Police Detain 150 People on Terror Charges

Turkish police on Tuesday detained over 140 people with suspected links to Kurdish rebels in three main cities, media reports said.

Police early Tuesday morning arrested 90 people in Istanbul after raiding several addresses around the city, Anatolia news agency reported.

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Somalia's Shebab Vow More Attacks after Mogadishu Carnage

Somalia's Shebab rebels vowed more attacks after a deadly car bomb killed more than 70 people in Mogadishu, spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said in speech broadcast Wednesday by the group's radio.

"We are promising that attacks against the enemy will be routine, more in number and will increase day by day," Rage said over radio al-Andalus.

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Russia, China Veto U.N. Council Call for Syria Action, Lebanon Abstains

Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution threatening action against Syria's deadly crackdown on protests, opening up bitter international divisions over the Arab Spring.

Amid new deaths in Syria and new threats of individual sanctions, the veto sparked the outrage of European nations, which proposed the resolution, and the United States, which said the council had "utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge."

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Mali Police Arrest "Human Trafficking Network" between Mali, Lebanon

A man and woman in Mali were arrested on Tuesday and charged with “human trafficking” mainly of young women, police sources in Mali told Agence France Presse.

The trafficking was occurring between Lebanon and Mali, the source added.

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