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Clinton Voices Concern in Talk with Egyptian FM on Violence

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced "deep concern" Tuesday about deadly weekend violence that killed 25 people in Egypt, mainly Coptic Christians.

Clinton phoned top Egyptian diplomat Mohamed Kamel Amr to convey "the need for the Egyptian government to ensure that the fundamental rights of all Egyptians are respected, including the rights of religious freedom, peaceful assembly and the end of military trials for civilians, and that efforts be made to address sectarian tensions," the State Department said.

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Turkey Welcomes Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Swap Deal

Turkey on Wednesday welcomed a deal between Israel and Hamas in which a Franco-Israeli soldier, held for five years, is to be exchanged for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.

"We are happy," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, of the deal that will see the Palestinian militant group free Gilad Shalit, who they have held since 2006.

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Four Israeli Synagogues Vandalized

Four synagogues in the northern Israeli town of Safed have been vandalized, with assailants spray painting "death to Jews" on the structures, Israeli police told Agence France Presse on Wednesday.

The incident came after an attack last week on an Arab-Israeli mosque, and police said they were looking at whether Tuesday night's incident was a revenge attack.

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Iran Says U.S. Plot Claim is 'Childish Game' to Divert Attention

U.S. accusations Iran was involved in an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington is a "childish game" meant to distract the U.S. public's attention, Iran's parliament speaker said Wednesday.

"The Americans have launched a stupid mischief. They want to divert attentions from the problems in the region," Ali Larijani said, according to Mehr news agency and other Iranian media.

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Thousands Rally in Damascus to Support Syrian President

Thousands of people rallied in central Damascus on Wednesday in a show of support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad which has been shaken by mass protests for nearly seven months.

An Agence France Presse journalist witnessing the demonstration said it had begun with a call on the Facebook page "My homeland, Syria" of Assad supporters urging them to rally to "reinforce unity and solidarity with the families of martyrs and thank Russia and China for their stand against the conspiracy" targeting Syria.

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Suicide Car Bombers Kill 19 at Baghdad Police Stations

Bomb and gun attacks mainly targeting security forces, including two suicide car bombs minutes apart on police stations, killed at least 19 people in Baghdad's deadliest day in more than a month.

The violence, in which nearly 70 people were also wounded, signaled insurgents' ability to plan and carry out coordinated attacks on well-secured targets, as Iraq weighs its options over a post-2011 American military training mission.

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Saudi King Abdullah to Undergo Back Operation in Riyadh

Saudi King Abdullah will undergo new back surgery in Riyadh in the next few days, following two similar operations last year in the United States, the palace said in a statement on Tuesday.

Exams performed after the 87-year-old king complained of "pain in the lower back" revealed a stretched ligament, said the statement quoted by the Spa official news agency.

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U.S. Charges 2 Iranians in Plot to Kill Saudi Envoy, Iran Rejects Prefabricated Scenario

The United States said Tuesday it had busted a plot conceived at high levels of Iran's revolutionary leadership to kill the Saudi envoy to Washington in a major terror attack, and vowed to hold Tehran to account.

An aide to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later on denied allegations that the Islamic republic was involved in such plot.

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Israel, Hamas Agree on Prisoner Swap Deal

Israeli and Hamas officials announced late Tuesday that they have reached a prisoner swap deal to free a captured Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip in exhange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, capping five years of painful negotiations that have repeatedly collapsed in fingerpointing and violence.

The deal would bring home Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006 by Palestinian militants who burrowed into Israel and dragged him into Gaza. Little has been known about his fate since then.

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Egypt Deputy PM Resigns after Deadly Clashes

Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi resigned on Tuesday following deadly clashes in the capital that left 25 people dead, the official MENA news agency reported.

Beblawi -- one of two deputy prime ministers who also has the finance portfolio -- said he tendered his resignation after Sunday's deadly clashes "which shook the security of the society, which is the government's responsibility" to ensure.

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