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Swiss to Open Office in Libya's Rebel Stronghold Benghazi

Switzerland said Tuesday it is dispatching a diplomat to the rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi to open an office aimed at strengthening its ties with the Libyan National Transitional Council.

"By sending a special envoy to Benghazi, Switzerland is signaling its intent to strengthen its presence there, and to intensify its political relations with the Libyan National Transitional Council," said the Swiss Foreign Ministry.

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France Seeks U.N. Security Council Action on Syria

France renewed its demand that the United Nations Security Council take a stance on the crisis in Syria on Tuesday, after mobs backing President Bashar Assad attacked the U.S. and French embassies.

"France and other European countries have submitted a proposed resolution to the U.N. Security Council, which has been blocked by Russia and China," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Europe 1 radio.

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Ahmadinejad Urges Arab Leaders to Accept Reform

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Arab governments to heed popular demands for reform at a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the presidential website said on Tuesday.

"Today, the people of the region must enjoy equal rights, the right to vote, security and dignity, and no government can deprive them of freedom and justice or refuse their peoples' demands," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

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France Denies Negotiating with Libya, Says Only had Contact

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday that France had had "contacts" with the Libyan regime concerning the departure of leader Moammar Gadhafi but no real negotiations had taken place.

"There have indeed been contacts, but it has not turned into a real negotiation," he told France Info radio station. "The Libyan regime is sending messengers everywhere: to Turkey, New York, Paris," he said.

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Strong Blast Hits Egyptian Gas Pipeline

Saboteurs bombed an Egyptian gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula for the fourth time since February, cutting supplies to Israel and Jordan, the official MENA news agency reported Tuesday.

The blast occurred near the town of al-Arish in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, it said, adding that the ensuing "flames were up to 10 meters high.

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Clinton Says Assad has 'Lost Legitimacy' and 'is Not Indispensable'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syrian leader Bashar Assad had "lost legitimacy" after loyalists attacked the U.S. and French embassies for alleged meddling in internal affairs.

Angry mobs besieged the U.S. and French missions Monday after the countries' ambassadors last week traveled to the flashpoint protest city of Hama.

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Iran Threatens to Attack Kurdish Rebels across Iraq Border

Tehran "reserves the right" to attack the bases of an Iranian Kurdish separatist group across the Iraq border, the official IRNA news agency quoted an army official as saying on Monday.

"We reserve the right to attack and destroy terrorist bases in border areas" near the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, the agency quoted the unnamed senior official as saying.

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Iran Denies U.S. Claims It Armed Iraq Insurgents

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Monday rejected accusations by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Iran had armed insurgents in neighboring Iraq.

"The United States is not in a good position in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are doing everything they can to maintain their military presence in these two countries," the state television website quoted him as saying.

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Peres Thanks Greek President for Stopping Gaza-bound Flotilla

Visiting Greek President Karolos Papoulias met on Monday with Israeli leaders, as long-frosty relations between the two Mediterranean nations reach new heights of cooperation.

Papoulias' three-day trip, which will also take him briefly to the Palestinian territories, comes a week after Athens effectively prevented a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists from reaching Gaza and breaching Israel's naval blockade of strip.

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U.S. Summons Syria Envoy over Embassy Riots

The United States summoned Syria's charge d'affaires on Monday, accusing Damascus of failing to meet its international obligations after angry mobs besieged the U.S. and French embassies.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described those storming the U.S. embassy -- for the second time in three days -- as "thugs" and said they had been "chased off" by U.S. Marines.

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