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Queen Marie-Antoinette's Desk Back in Versailles Palace

Nearly 222 years after the French Revolution, a desk made by royal cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener is back in the Versailles Palace after being acquired by the French state for 6.75 million Euros ($9.4 million).

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand on Monday officially turned over to the palace the elegant piece which has been classified as "a work of major cultural value".

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New Self-Immolation in Key Tunisia Town Ahead of Ban’s Visit

A man set himself alight Tuesday in Tunisia's Sidi Bouzid, where a self-immolation last year unleashed protests that toppled the president, as the U.N. chief was due to visit, a medical source said.

The 33-year-old suffered third degree burns and was admitted to hospital in a severe condition, the official said. The reasons for his protest were not yet clear.

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Israeli Airstrike Hits Gaza Militants

At least one Palestinian was injured on Tuesday when an Israeli airstrike hit a group of militants in eastern Gaza City, medics and witnesses said.

Witnesses reported seeing militants trying to fire rockets into southern Israel shortly before the strike, which was mounted by an Israeli drone and hit the eastern Shejaiya district that lies close to the border.

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Afghanistan Unveils Crucial Security Handover

Afghanistan said Tuesday its forces would take over security in areas including the Helmand capital from NATO this summer, launching a transition as foreign troops plan an exit by the end of 2014.

Afghanistan will notably take "full security responsibility" for most of Kabul province, including the capital, and Lashkar Gah, the capital of the restive southern province of Helmand, President Hamid Karzai said.

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Israeli ex-President Katsav Gets 7 Years for Rape

Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was on Tuesday sentenced to seven years behind bars after being convicted on charges of rape and other sexual assault offences, Israeli media said.

The judges also handed the disgraced former president a two-year suspended sentence and ordered him to pay compensation of 100,000 shekels ($28,000/20,000 euros) to the main victim, known only as "Aleph.”

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Guatemala Leader Divorces So Wife Can Run

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and his wife Sandra Torres de Colom have filed for divorce to avert a constitutional flap over her eligibility to run for the presidency, officials said Monday.

The divorce papers were filed March 11 in family court, according to Edwin Escobar, a spokesman for the country's Supreme Court.

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Bolivian President: Take Away Obama's Peace Prize

Bolivian President Evo Morales called Monday for U.S. President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked, saying the U.S. leader's decision to launch a military attack on Libya showed he did not deserve the honor.

"Two years ago we heard that President Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, but is he defending peace in the world now, or isn't he instead fomenting violence?" Morales told reporters, days after Obama ordered the bombing of Libya military targets as part of an U.N.-approved effort to protect civilians.

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Cousin of Syrian Leader Says Reform Urgent Amid Protests

An exiled cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned his regime Monday it only had a "small window of opportunity" to introduce reform or face being overthrown by a mounting protest movement.

"You have to move very quickly. This is a very small window of opportunity," Ribal al-Assad, head of the London-based Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria, urged the Middle East state in an interview with Agence France Presse.

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U.N. Security Council Opens New Session on Libya

The U.N. Security Council began a closed-door meeting on Libya Monday, diplomats said, amid rising international criticism of air strikes directed at the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

Missile and air strikes launched over the weekend by U.S., British and French forces targeted Libyan air defense systems to impose a no-fly zone on Gadhafi's forces, and on Sunday demolished a building in the Libyan leader's compound.

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For Many Lebanese, Mother's Day is a Painful Memory

Some 30 women gathered in Beirut on Monday, Mother's Day, demanding information on the fate of their children and loved ones who went missing during the country's civil war and who are presumably being held in Syria.

"I just want to see my son once more before I die," cried Hana, 60, whose son Mustafa disappeared in 1988 at the age of 16.

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