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U.S., Israeli Military Chiefs Meet

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta met Monday at the Pentagon to discuss political changes in the region ahead of the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations.

At the second Pentagon meeting for the two defense leaders since Panetta became Defense Secretary in July "Panetta and Barak each stressed the importance of the close security ties that bind the two nations, including America's continued commitment to ensuring Israel's qualitative military edge," Douglas Wilson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

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U.S. Urges Russia to Back U.N. 'Statement' on Syria

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged Russia to support a "strong statement" at the U.N. Security Council over Syria's crackdown on protests, senior U.S. officials said Monday.

In her talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Clinton expressed "our interest in seeing the Security Council go on record with a strong statement on Syria," a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

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U.S. Calls for Restraint in Yemen

The United States on Monday called for restraint in Yemen where activists and medics said at least 53 anti-regime protesters have been killed in two days of violence.

The U.S. embassy said Washington hoped for a peaceful transition of power in Sanaa and hoped a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative would be signed within a week to transfer power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to his deputy.

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U.S. Urges Turkey to Defuse Row with Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here on Monday urged Turkey to defuse tension and repair strategic ties with Israel as Washington values them both as allies, U.S. officials said.

Washington has expressed mounting concern about the bitter row between Turkey and Israel over a May 2010 Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla heading to the Gaza Strip that left nine Turks dead.

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Turkey Would Consider U.S. Proposal for Nuclear Power Plant

Turkey's energy minister said Monday Ankara would consider a proposal from the United States to build a nuclear power plant in the country's north.

"If a proposal comes from the United States, we could evaluate it but so far, no concrete proposal has been made to us," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters.

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U.S. Support Cyprus Right to Explore for Energy

The United States supports "the right" of Cyprus to explore for energy, a senior U.S. official said Monday after U.S.-Turkish talks amid a dispute between Turkey and Cyprus over such exploration.

The official also told reporters on condition of anonymity that the dispute should "not interfere" with talks aimed at resolving the political issues over the divided island of Cyprus.

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U.S. Slams Iran at U.N. Atomic Agency Meeting

The United States took a renewed swipe at Iran Monday, telling the annual gathering of the U.N. atomic agency Tehran was creeping "still closer" to producing nuclear weapons-grade uranium.

"Iran has continued to engage in a longstanding pattern of denial, deceit and evasion," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the 151-nation International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) general conference in Vienna.

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Saudi King Discusses Yemen Crisis with Saleh

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah met Monday embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to discuss deadly clashes that killed dozens in Sanaa, the official Saudi news agency said.

The meeting was the first since Saleh went to Saudi Arabia for treatment after being wounded in an attack on his Sanaa compound in June.

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Abbas Tells Ban Palestinian Statehood Bid to Come Friday

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas officially told U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon that he would be submitting an application for membership in the global body on Friday, a U.N. spokesman said Monday.

Abbas and Ban also discussed international efforts to avoid a showdown over the bid in a meeting hours after the Palestinian leader's arrival in New York on Monday to make the bid for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state.

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Amnesty: Stop the Killing or Risk Civil War in Yemen

Amnesty International said on Monday that the authorities in Yemen must stop killing anti-regime protesters immediately or risk civil war.

"The Yemeni authorities must immediately stop the killing of peaceful protesters by security forces," the London-based rights group said in a statement following reports that dozens of people have been shot dead in the capital Sanaa since Sunday.

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