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Bahrain Expels Envoy of Shiite Ayatollah Sistani

Authorities in Sunni-ruled Bahrain on Wednesday expelled the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the latest manifestation of tension with the kingdom's Shiite majority.

Sheikh Hussein al-Najati was among 31 Bahrainis who had their citizenship revoked in November 2012 over accusations that they had undermined state security, more than a year after authorities crushed a Shiite uprising in March 2011.

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Hamas, Fatah Declare End of Palestinian Rift as Israeli Strike in Gaza Wounds 6

Rival Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip forged a new reconciliation agreement on Wednesday, angering Israel at a time when peace talks are at a standstill.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for choosing "Hamas, not peace", and a Netanyahu aide said he had called off a peace meeting with the Palestinians scheduled for Wednesday evening.

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U.S. Envoy in Libya amid Political Turmoil

A top U.S. diplomat was visiting Libya on Wednesday to meet government officials, amid political upheaval in the North African country, the State Department said.

Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns was in Tripoli to meet with senior Libyan officials including interim prime minister Abdullah al-Thani and leaders of Libya's parliament, the General National Congress, the State Department said in a statement.

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Qatar Says Dispute with Gulf Neighbors 'over'

Qatar's dispute with three fellow Gulf states, which withdrew their envoys from Doha last month, is "over", the Qatari foreign minister said Wednesday, while insisting his country had made no concessions.

"The statement issued in Riyadh on April 17 was clear ... For the brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) the dispute is over," Khaled Al-Attiyah told a press conference in Kuwait after a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah.

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U.N. Aid Chiefs Appeal for Syria Access

The heads of five U.N. agencies on Wednesday made an impassioned call to both sides in Syria's conflict to allow aid deliveries countrywide, end siege warfare and halt indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

"The war escalates in many areas. The humanitarian situation deteriorates day after day," the leaders of the U.N. humanitarian aid office and its children's, refugee, food and health divisions said in a joint statement.

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Palestinians in New Unity Push as Israel Talks Teeter

Rival Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip agreed Wednesday to form a unity government within five weeks as peace talks with Israel face collapse.

It is not the first time that the rival sides have announced a deal to end seven years of separate Palestinians administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Syrian Opposition Asks for More Saudi Aid

The head of Syria's main opposition group has asked Saudi Arabia to increase its support for the rebel Free Syrian Army, his advisor said Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia is one of the main backers of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad in a civil war increasingly seen as a proxy battle between it and regional rival Iran, a close ally of the regime.

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Syria Lawmaker Becomes First Presidential Challenger

A communist MP has registered as the first challenger for the Syrian presidency in a June election expected to return incumbent Bashar Assad to power, the parliament speaker said Wednesday.

"We have received information from the higher constitutional court that member of parliament Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar has filed his candidacy for the post of president of the Syrian Arab Republic," Mohammad Lahham said, quoted on state television.

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Bomb Kills Police General in Cairo

A police brigadier general was killed when a bomb exploded under his car on Wednesday, security officials said, in the fifth such targeted attack in Egypt's capital within a week.

The blast in the upscale western suburb of October 6 killed Ahmed Zaki, a commander of Egypt's central security forces who have spearheaded a crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

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Bahrain Captures Two Escaped Inmates

Bahraini authorities caught two inmates Wednesday after their escape from a main jail prompted the dismissal of the Gulf kingdom's prisons chief, the interior ministry said.

The pair who escaped on Monday were being held over their alleged involvement in Shiite-led protests in the kingdom, where the Sunni monarchy crushed a February 2011 uprising backed by the Shiite majority, according to lawyers.

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