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France Says 'Passing Messages' to Gadhafi, No Direct Talks

France has made indirect contact with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi's regime, the foreign ministry said Monday, denying reports that Paris has begun direct negotiations with Tripoli.

Paris is a leading member of the NATO-led international coalition bombing Gadhafi's forces and a cheerleader for the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) battling to overthrow his rule.

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Assad Supporters Storm U.S., French Embassies in Damascus

Angry mobs stormed the American and French embassies in Syria on Monday, after the two Western envoys visited the city of Hama, a flashpoint for protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The foreign ministry in Paris said three French staff were wounded in the embassy attack, while a U.S. official said "no staff were injured."

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Rockets Hit Baghdad Green Zone as Panetta Visits

Three rockets slammed into Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone on Monday, wounding a woman and her children, officials said, as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta began the second day of a visit to press Iraqi leaders on security.

The rockets wounded the woman and her three children, a security official said, but there was no report or indication the missiles had landed anywhere close to the U.S. Embassy inside the zone.

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Syrian Refugees Return Home from Turkey

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey fell to around 8,500 as hundreds decided to return home over the weekend, Turkish officials said Monday.

Some 238 Syrians went back to their country over the last two days, lowering the total number of refugees in Turkey to 8,579, the country's disaster and emergency management agency said on its website.

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Gadhafi’s Son: Tripoli Negotiating with France, not Rebels

Tripoli is negotiating a way out of the Libyan crisis with France not with its rebel foes, the son of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said in an interview published Monday.

"We are in fact holding real negotiations with France and not with the rebels," Seif Al-Islam said during the interview with the Algerian daily el-Khabar conducted in the Libyan capital.

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Israel Weighs Settlement Boycott 'Ban'

Israel's parliament was poised on Monday to vote on a law that would effectively ban Israelis from calling for boycotts of any part of the Jewish state or its settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Activists and intellectuals have criticized the controversial bill, accusing the MPs behind it of stifling free speech and compromising Israel's democracy.

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Egypt Seizes Pickup Loaded with Arms near Libya Border

The army has stopped a pickup truck loaded with contraband arms near Egypt's border with Libya, the scene of an armed revolt since February, the state news agency MENA reported on Sunday.

It said the vehicle was intercepted around 90 kilometers south of the Salloum border post but the driver managed to flee.

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Libyan Rebels Warn Algeria: 'Stop Backing Gadhafi'

Libya's rebel council issued a blunt warning to neighboring Algeria on Sunday, insisting that it must "stop supporting Gadhafi," as tensions between the North African countries bubbled to the surface.

Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, vice president of Libya's National Transitional Council, accused Algeria of supporting Moammar Gadhafi militarily in the early days of the near five-month-long war, and that it continued to support him politically.

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France Summons Syria Envoy to Protest 'Offences' Against Its Embassy

The French foreign ministry on Sunday summoned Syria's ambassador to France over damage done to the French embassy and a consulate in Syria.

Syrian demonstrators caused the damage Saturday after France's ambassador to Syria visited the northern city of Hama, a stronghold of the anti-regime uprising.

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U.S. Denies Envoy Summoned by Syria, Says Meeting Prescheduled

A senior U.S. official denied Sunday that the U.S. envoy to Syria had been summoned by Syria's foreign office and accused Damascus of orchestrating violent protests over the weekend at the U.S. embassy.

Tensions have been escalating for months between Damascus and Washington over the Syrian government's crackdown on months of opposition protests seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

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