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Russia Opposes Sanctions, Pressure on Syria

Russia said Friday ahead of the expiry of a new Arab League ultimatum on Syria that it opposed pressure and sanctions against its traditional Arab ally and wanted to see a renewal of political dialogue.

"At this stage, what we need is not resolutions, sanctions or pressure, but inter-Syrian dialogue," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a televised press briefing.

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Turkey Says New Arab Ultimatum is 'Last Chance' for Syria

A new Arab League ultimatum which gives Syria until later Friday to agree to accept observers or face sanctions represents a last chance for the regime in Damascus, Turkey's foreign minister said.

"It is a last chance, a new chance for Syria," Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul in the final hours before the 11:00 GMT deadline.

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Hamas to Focus on Popular Resistance

Hamas is looking to focus its energies on popular resistance without giving up its right to wage armed struggle against Israel, the Islamist movement's leader Khaled Meshaal told Agence France Presse in an interview.

"Every people has the right to fight against occupation in every way, with weapons or otherwise. But at the moment, we want to cooperate with the popular resistance," the group's Damascus-based leader said in the interview late on Thursday.

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U.S. Calls for Speedy and Fair Transfer of Power in Egypt

The transfer of power to a civilian government in Egypt must be "just and inclusive" and take place "as soon as possible," the White House said Friday.

"Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

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Voting Begins in 1st Morocco Polls since Constitutional Reforms

Moroccans began voting Friday in the first legislative election since the approval of constitutional reforms that give parliament and the prime minister more powers.

The election, the second in north Africa since the Arab Spring uprisings began, pits the moderately Islamist Justice and Development party against a coalition loyal to King Mohammed VI.

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20 Kuwaiti Activists Go on Hunger Strike to Protest ‘Illegal Detention’

Some 20 Kuwaiti opposition activists detained for storming parliament went on hunger strike on Friday to protest against "illegal and oppressive detention," and maltreatment.

The announcement came in a statement posted on Twitter by the activists' supporters immediately after the public prosecutor extended the detention of 31 activists until Saturday for further investigation.

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Kamal al-Ganzouri Reportedly Named New Egypt PM

Egypt's ruling military council on Thursday tasked former prime minister Kamal al-Ganzouri with forming a new cabinet, private Egyptian TV channels reported.

Ganzouri headed the government from 1996 to 1999, under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

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Netanyahu Urges Sanctions on Iran Oil, Banking Sectors

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday for sanctions to be imposed on Iran's oil and banking sectors to put pressure on it to rein in its controversial nuclear program.

"It is very important that significant economic sanctions were imposed, but that is not enough," he said at a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart Emil Boc.

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Kuwait Detains 24 Activists Over Parliament Storming

Kuwait on Thursday remanded in custody 24 opposition activists pending further investigation on charges they stormed the parliament building last week, their lawyer said.

"After interrogation all night, the public prosecutor this morning remanded them in police custody until Thursday night when questioning will resume," said Al-Humaidi al-Subaie, coordinator of the opposition defense team.

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Officials Say 19 killed in South Iraq Bombings

Three bombs exploded Thursday in the south Iraq port city of Basra, killing 19 people, including high-ranking army and police officers, and wounding at least 65, security and medical officials said.

A roadside bomb and a motorcycle bomb exploded simultaneously at about 6:40 pm (1540 GMT) in a market in central Basra, an interior ministry official said.

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