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Obama Meets Maliki, Says 'History Will Judge' Iraq Invasion

U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that "history will judge" the decision by his predecessor president George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003.

As an Illinois state senator, Obama had slammed the planned invasion as "a dumb war."

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Leftist Moncef Marzouki Elected Tunisia President

Tunisia's veteran opposition leader Moncef Marzouki was elected president Monday, a month and a half after the north African country held its first post-revolution election.

The fierce opponent of ousted strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was elected with 153 votes in the 217-member assembly, with three of the 202 deputies present voting against, two abstaining and 44 casting blank ballots.

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Saudi Crown Prince Meets Iran Intelligence Minister

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz met with Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi on Monday at a time of strained relations between their countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Riyadh has accused Tehran of interfering in neighboring Arab states and warned that its nuclear program could pose a threat to regional security.

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Hamas Considers Ramp Closure as 'War on Jerusalem Muslim Holy Sites'

Israel's closure of a wooden access ramp to the al-Aqsa mosque compound is tantamount to a declaration of war on Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, Hamas warned on Monday.

"This is a serious step that shows the Zionist scheme of aggression again the al-Aqsa mosque," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told Agence France Presse.

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Yemen Police Disperse Separatist Protest

A Yemeni protester was wounded Monday when police dispersed hundreds of demonstrators demanding a secession of southern regions in the capital of former South Yemen, activists said.

Security forces at dawn stormed a camp of tents that southern separatists erected in al-Oroud Square in Aden after they met U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar, activists said.

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Israel Approves 40 Settler Homes near Bethlehem

Israel has approved construction of 40 homes and a farm in two new settler enclaves near the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem, Haaretz daily reported on Monday.

"Israel's military establishment has approved the establishment of a new, permanent neighborhood and a farm near the West Bank settlement of Efrat," the paper said.

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7 Killed as Syrians Vote in Municipal Polls

Syrians were voting Monday in municipal elections held amid a general strike called by the opposition and as security forces killed another seven people as they pursued a crackdown on dissent.

The elections committee, in a statement received by Agence France Presse, said "voting is proceeding in a democratic spirit," adding that voting turnout was "good." It did not elaborate.

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Syrian Forces Battle Deserters, One Killed

Syrian security forces shot dead at least one person early Monday as they launched a raid in the northwestern province of Idlib, where mutinous soldiers were fighting army troops, a rights group said.

The violence came as pro-democracy activists pushed a campaign of civil disobedience launched Sunday with a general strike across Syria designed to bring down the regime of President Bashar Assad.

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Saudi Woman Beheaded for 'Sorcery'

A Saudi woman was beheaded Monday after being convicted of practicing sorcery, which is banned in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the interior ministry said.

Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar was executed in the northern province of Jawf for "practicing witchcraft and sorcery," the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

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12 Alleged Qaida Inmates Escape Yemen Prison

Twelve alleged al-Qaida militants plus two other inmates have tunneled their way to freedom from a prison in the south Yemen city of Aden, a security official said on Monday.

The prisoners fled through a six-meter tunnel they dug at the western end of Aden's central prison, the official said.

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