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'Awesome' United States Angles for More Tourists

Say goodbye to the United States of America. Say hello to "the United States of Awesome Possibilities" as it looks to visitors from abroad to help lift it out of the economic doldrums.

By soft-pedaling patriotism, the newly-formed U.S. national tourism board tasked with getting more tourists -- and their money -- onto U.S. soil is reinventing the nation as a hip new land of diversity and possibilities.

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Israel General Strike Ends after 4 Hours

Israel was hit by a brief general strike on Monday that affected hospitals, banks, ports and the country's main international airport, but which ended after just four hours.

The strike shut down all government offices, universities, ports, post offices and the Tel Aviv stock exchange for most of the morning following a dispute over the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of contract workers employed by the government.

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Greek PM Steps Down for Unity Government

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday agreed to step down and political leaders will meet tomorrow to form a new unity government to end the political crisis, the president's office said.

The deal was reached after a meeting lasting nearly two hours between Papandreou, main opposition leader Antonis Samaras and President Carolos Papoulias, the Greek head of state.

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Eurozone Keeps Heat on Greece, Holds Back Aid

Eurozone finance ministers regroup Monday to pressure Greece to unite behind reforms in return for aid vital to its financial survival, and boost the firepower of a bailout fund to protect Italy.

As Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou scrambles to form a coalition government, the eurozone is holding back the next slice of aid, eight billion euros ($11 billion), until rival parties back a new eurozone rescue package.

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Over 1 Million People Visit Iraqi Kurdistan

More than one million people have visited the autonomous Kurdistan region in north Iraq -- a haven of relative stability -- in the past nine months, a tourism official said on Saturday.

"The number of tourists who visited Kurdistan during the last nine months reached 1.15 million tourists," Mawlawi Jabbar, the head of the General Committee for Tourism in the Kurdistan tourism and municipalities ministry, told Agence France Presse.

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France Passes G20 Baton after Messy Cannes Summit

France's year-long G20 term stumbled to a messy end at the Cannes summit, where President Nicolas Sarkozy's dreams of reforming world finance were torpedoed by the eurozone debt crisis.

The leaders of the world's most powerful economies cobbled together a list of promised measures to boost growth and reinforce the IMF, but the statement was short on detail and all eyes were fixed on Rome and Athens.

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Greek PM Starts Talks on Crisis Government

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Saturday was to start talks on forming a national crisis government to stave off bankruptcy in his debt-laden country after winning a nail-biting confidence vote.

In a dramatic late-night parliament session that began Friday evening and went well into the early hours of Saturday morning, Papandreou also hinted he would step aside in the interest of national unity.

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India Govt. Faces Revolt over 4th Petrol Hike in Year

India's prime minister returned from abroad on Saturday to face a political revolt over a petrol price increase with a key coalition ally threatening to withdraw support unless the hike is reversed.

The regional Trinamool Congress, the second-largest party in the coalition with 19 lawmakers, said it may quit the ruling alliance unless Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rolls back the price rise.

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Merkel Says Decade Needed to Clean up EU Debts

Europe will need a decade to clean up its finances and emerge from the current debt crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared Saturday.

Resolving the debt crisis "is a path which calls for much effort, and along which we will have to advance step by step," Merkel said the day after the end of a G20 summit in Cannes, France, which was dominated by the issue.

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Greece Scraps Referendum Ahead of Crunch Confidence Vote

Greece announced officially Friday that it had scrapped plans to hold a referendum that had enraged EU leaders, ahead of a knife-edge confidence vote which threatened to spark yet more chaos.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement that he had informed top EU officials "of Greece's decision not to hold a referendum", the first senior Greek politician to announce it so clearly.

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