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Kerry Says 'Bit of Progress' with Lavrov on Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian opposite number on Friday and made what he said was "a little bit of progress" on resolving their differences over the Syrian crisis.

"We're evaluating some mutual ideas in a constructive way, period," Kerry told reporters at the United Nations, one day after international envoys failed to find a way to revive a U.S. and Russian-brokered truce.

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Mideast Peace 'Quartet' Hears from France and Egypt

The diplomatic "Quartet" piloting efforts to nudge Israel and the Palestinians towards a negotiated solution to their conflict on Friday heard from France and Egypt on their parallel peacemaking efforts.

The Quartet -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- is tasked with overseeing international peace efforts, but both France and Egypt have expressed an interest in helping out.

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France Accuses Assad of Seeking to Break Up Syria

France on Friday accused Bashar al-Assad and his allies of seeking to break Syria apart, as Russian-backed regime forces prepared to storm rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was also critical of Washington, accusing it of excluding its allies from the diplomatic search for a solution to the conflict.

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Morocco Asks to Rejoin African Union after 32 Years

Morocco on Friday made an official request to return to the African Union, 32 years after quitting the bloc in protest at its decision to accept Western Sahara as a member.

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U.N. Eyes Alternate Aid Delivery Route for Syria's Aleppo

The U.N. said Friday it was considering a different route to send desperately needed aid to east Aleppo, to circumvent the blocked main supply route as new air raids pounded Syria's second city.

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At Least 133 Bodies Recovered from Egypt Migrant Shipwreck

The death toll from a migrant boat disaster off Egypt's coast climbed to 133 on Friday as rescuers recovered more bodies from the Mediterranean.

Survivors have said up to 450 migrants were on board the overcrowded fishing vessel that was heading to Italy from Egypt when it keeled over off the port city of Rosetta on Wednesday.

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Palestinian Wounded Trying to Stab Israelis in W.Bank

Israeli troops on Friday shot and wounded a Palestinian who the army said was attempting to stab Israelis at a bus stop in the occupied West Bank.

"An assailant attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at the Elias junction, near the community of Kiryat Arba," a military statement said.

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After IS, A Painful Return for Residents of Iraq's Fallujah

In the three days since the Iraqi city of Fallujah was reopened for residents following its recapture from the Islamic State group, just over 500 families have returned home, Maj. Gen. Saad al-Harbea, the head of west Baghdad operations, said.

Hundreds more have massed around the checkpoints that block the city's entrance to await the multiple security approvals required to re-enter Fallujah, which lies 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of the Iraqi capital. But the vast majority of the 300,000 people that made up the city's prewar population remain scattered across the country.

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Erdogan Says U.S. Arming Syrian Kurdish Militia

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the United States of sending more weapons to a Syrian Kurdish militia in defiance of Ankara's repeated insistence it is a "terrorist" organisation.

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Iran Decries Saudi Strikes on Yemen Port City

Iran on Friday condemned air strikes in Yemen by a coalition led by its regional rival Saudi Arabia that are reported to have killed 20 civilians.

"Sadly, the indifference of the international community and continued sale of all kinds of arms to Saudi Arabia have emboldened this regime in its attacks on the oppressed and defenseless people of Yemen," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said, quoted by state broadcaster IRIB.

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