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GCC Chief to Return to Yemen to Renew Mediation

Gulf states said on Sunday they are to renew efforts to end a deadly political crisis in Yemen, after the opposition accused President Ali Abdullah Saleh of having torpedoed their bid at the weekend.

The Gulf Cooperation Council "hopes to remove all the obstacles still standing in the path of achieving a final agreement," the six-nation grouping of Yemen's oil-rich Arab neighbors said after a meeting in Riyadh.

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Egypt Calls on U.S. to Recognize Palestinian State

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday called on the United States to recognize a Palestinian state, as rival Palestinian factions prepare to sign a reconciliation accord in Cairo.

Arabi urged visiting U.S. Congressman Steve Chabot to "press Congress and the American administration to recognize a Palestinian state."

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London Expels Libyan Envoy after British, Italian Missions Torched

Britain expelled the Libyan ambassador Sunday following attacks on the British and Italian embassies in Tripoli, saying Moammar Gadhafi's regime had failed in its duty to protect diplomatic missions.

Protesters set fire to the buildings, which are on the same street in central Tripoli, early on Sunday, Agence France Presse reported, adding that the mob at the Italian embassy ripped down the Italian flag and threw it into the street.

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Egypt Military Warns Against Sectarian Strife

Egypt's military rulers warned on Sunday of strong measures against anyone inciting sectarian strife, in a bid to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after president Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February, said it was "exerting all efforts to end sectarian disagreements on the Egyptian street to protect this nation."

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Mass Arrests in Daraa, Douma as Syria Protesters Plan Week 'to Break the Siege'

Syrian forces arrested more dissidents Sunday in the flashpoint southern town of Daraa and in a Damascus suburb under siege for a week, after two days of fresh bloodshed, activists said.

Anti-regime protesters appealed for new protests to launch a "week of breaking the siege" imposed on Daraa and the Douma suburb, and other towns facing deadly crackdowns.

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12-Year-Old Suicide Bomber Kills Four in Afghanistan

A 12-year-old suicide bomber killed four people and wounded a dozen in east Afghanistan Sunday, while rebel clashes with police and NATO-led troops left five civilians and two police dead, officials said.

The death toll from the day's fighting included at least three children besides the bomber, and dozens of civilians were wounded in firefights as violence appeared to escalate after the Taliban announced a spring offensive.

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Russia Has 'Serious Doubts' West Not Targeting Gadhafi

Russia called for an immediate ceasefire in Libya Sunday and said it had "serious doubts" the West was not targeting Moammar Gadhafi and his family after Tripoli said the leader's son was killed.

"The claims of the coalition members that strikes over Libya do not have the physical destruction of Moammar Gadhafi and members of his family as their goal cause serious doubts," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Turkey Warns Against Intervention in Syria, London Slams ‘Disgraceful’ Crackdown

Turkey is against foreign intervention in Syria and believes the unrest-hit country should solve its own problems, Anatolia news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying on Sunday.

"We should work to prevent the possibility (of a military intervention in Syria). Foreign intervention in a country like Syria with a heterogeneous social structure might cause unwanted consequences," Davutoglu said.

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GCC Calls Off Yemen Pact Signing Ceremony

The Gulf Cooperation Council said on Sunday that a ceremony to finalize a Yemeni pact ending three months of protests has been cancelled after embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign.

"The ceremony that was supposed to be held (Sunday)... will not take place," said the press office of GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani, after the Gulf-brokered deal between Saleh and the opposition collapsed in tatters.

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A Million Cheers as John Paul II Declared 'Blessed'

Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the status of "blessed" on his predecessor John Paul II on Sunday in front of a cheering crowd of over a million people, putting the late pope on the path to sainthood.

A giant banner bearing a youthful portrait of the Polish pontiff was unveiled over the facade of Saint Peter's Basilica after Benedict pronounced the formula of beatification just six years after John Paul's death.

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