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In Benghazi, EU's Ashton Vows Backing to Libya Rebels

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Sunday vowed to offer the European Union's long term support to Libyan rebels, hours after NATO bombed the port of Tripoli and Moammar Gadhafi's compound near the capital.

Ashton, on a visit to the rebel-held eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, is to open a European Union mission office in a city hotel later Sunday and she will also address a news conference.

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Saleh Refuses to Sign Yemen Deal as GCC, Western Mediators Flown Out of Besieged UAE Embassy

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh warned on Sunday of civil war if the opposition defied his call for them to be present at his palace for him to sign a Gulf deal on a transition of power, as pro-regime gunmen encircled a meeting of Arab and Western diplomatic mediators.

"If they remain stubborn, we will confront them everywhere with all possible means," he said in a televised address, moments before members of his ruling party were seen signing the Gulf Cooperation Council deal.

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At Least 18 Dead in Blasts in and Around Baghdad

More than a dozen bomb attacks in and around Baghdad on Sunday left at least 18 people dead, including 12 people killed in a suicide attack, and 80 wounded.

The series of attacks comes just days after blasts against police in a tense northern city killed 29 people, with just months to go before all U.S. forces must withdraw from Iraq amid questions over whether local security forces are up to the task of maintaining stability in the war-wracked country.

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Report: King Abdullah II Fears U.S. Will Ask him to Step Down

Jordan's King Abdullah II has reportedly expressed fear that the Obama administration would conspire against him and ask him to give up his powers if he doesn’t implement reforms.

Israeli daily Maariv has said that the king made the remark in a dialogue with Jewish organizations in Washington during his visit to the U.S. this week.

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Netanyahu 'Values' Obama Call for Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he shared U.S. President Barack Obama's vision for peace in remarks appeared aimed at defusing a deepening row with the U.S. leader.

"I am partner to the president's desire to foster peace and I value his efforts in the past and the present to achieve this goal," said Netanyahu, reacting to Obama's speech to the main pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

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Egypt Candidate Moussa Wants Parliament Vote Delay

Amr Moussa, a leading Egyptian presidential candidate, called Saturday for the delay of parliamentary elections in September until a presidential poll is held or a new constitution put in place.

Moussa, the outgoing Arab League secretary general, said September was too early for a parliamentary election, in which Islamists are expected to make a strong showing at the expense of poorly organized secular groups.

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Gulf Bloc‘s Mediator Heads Back to Yemen

An official from the six-nation Gulf bloc confirmed its secretary general will head to Yemen Saturday ahead of the planned signing of a deal it brokered aimed at ending months of deadly protests.

Gulf Cooperation Council secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani "will travel to Sanaa on Saturday" and "the signature of the plan will take place in his presence on Sunday," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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44 Killed in Friday Anti-Regime Protests in Syria

Security forces killed 44 people during anti-regime protests which swept Syria on Friday, with most of the casualties in the western province of Idlib and the central city of Homs, a human right activist told Agence France Presse on Saturday.

"Syrian authorities are continuing to use excessive force and live ammunition to face popular protests in various regions throughout the country," said Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights, who was reached by telephone.

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NATO Hits 8 Gadhafi Ships as Obama Predicts Demise

NATO said on Friday its warplanes hit eight vessels of Moammer Gadhafi's navy, after U.S. President Barack Obama predicted the Libyan strongman would "inevitably" leave or be forced from power.

The authorities in Tripoli slammed Obama's comments as "delusional," while strongly denying reports that Gadhafi's wife and daughter had fled to Tunisia and that Oil Minister Shukri Ghanem had defected.

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At Least 34 Dead as Protests Sweep Syria on 'Freedom Friday'

Syrian security forces on Friday shot dead at least 34 people, including a child, as pro-democracy protests swept the country, with demonstrators pressing on with calls for more freedom in defiance of a fierce crackdown, activists said.

The child was among 12 people killed in the central city of Homs while 15 died in the town of Maaret al-Naaman, near the western city of Idlib, the activists said.

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