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Clinton to Meet Abdullah in New York on Friday

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Saudi King Abdullah in New York Friday, where he is recovering from two back surgeries, the State Department said.

The meeting at the Plaza Hotel, where the monarch is recuperating, is scheduled for 7:00 pm (0000 GMT), said U.S. officials in a statement.

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Five Yemeni Soldiers Killed in Qaida Ambush

Al-Qaida militants killed five Yemeni soldiers and wounded two others along with a civilian on Friday when they attacked a military convoy in restive southern Abyan province, officials said.

"We were hit today in an al-Qaida ambush which resulted in the killing of five soldiers and two others being wounded," a security official told Agence France Presse.

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Jordan Arrests 51 over Riots in South

Jordan's security services said Thursday they have arrested 51 people linked to southern rioting this week sparked by the murder of two men in a labor dispute.

"Fifty-one suspects were arrested on Wednesday night, but the murderer of two Jordanians is still at large," a security official told Agence France Presse.

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Two Gazans Killed by Israeli Gunfire

The bodies of two Palestinians shot dead overnight in northern Gaza by Israeli troops were recovered Thursday by Palestinian medical officials.

Adham Abu Selmiya, the spokesman for the Hamas-run health services in the Gaza Strip, said an ambulance found the bodies of the two men on Thursday morning.

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Kuwait PM Survives Non-Cooperation Motion

Kuwait's prime minister on Wednesday narrowly survived a parliament vote seen as a serious bid by the opposition to oust him, speaker Jassem al-Kharafi said.

Twenty-five MPs in the 50-seat assembly voted in support of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, while 22 were against him and one abstained.

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Analysts: Mideast Christians Easy Target for Qaida

Al-Qaida would seem to have found an easy target in Middle Eastern Christians who have a limited ability to respond, but such attacks could easily escalate into sectarian clashes, analysts say.

Responsibility for the apparent suicide bombing early on New Year's Day at a Coptic church in Alexandria in which 21 people were killed and 79 were wounded has not yet been claimed, although Cairo has indirectly implicated al-Qaida.

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Iran Confirms Tour Invitation to Nuclear Sites

The Tehran government confirmed on Tuesday that it has invited world powers and its allies in the Arab and developing world to tour Iranian nuclear sites before a high-profile meeting late January on its disputed nuclear program.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the invitation went to "the EU, the non-aligned movement and representatives from 5+1 countries."

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Tight Security Dragnet Ahead of Coptic Christmas in Egypt

Egypt was on high alert on Monday ahead of the Coptic Christmas holiday following a New Year's Day church bombing that killed 21 people as investigators raced to identify those behind the attack.

Police cancelled leave for top officers and were tightening surveillance of airports and ports to prevent suspects from leaving the country, as new checkpoints were set up across the nation.

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Court Convicts Israel ex-President Moshe Katsav of Rape

Israeli former president Moshe Katsav faces at least eight years in prison after he was convicted Thursday of two counts of rape for assaulting a former employee, a Tel Aviv court said.

The verdict, which also found Katsav guilty of sexually harassing a second employee, caps a four-year process that saw the former president resign his post and spurn a plea deal that would have cleared him of the rape charges.

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Obama Names Ford Envoy to Syria, Bypassing Congress

President Barack Obama on Wednesday bypassed Congress to name the first U.S. ambassador to Syria in nearly six years, part of his Middle East engagement drive criticized by Republican opponents.

Obama took the controversial step of forcing through the appointments of Ambassador Robert Ford and five other officials while the Senate -- which normally needs to confirm nominations -- was out of session.

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