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Cairo's Tahrir Square Set for Reforms Rally

Protesters began arriving at Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square on Friday for a planned mass rally calling for reforms as the ruling military warned it would respond harshly to any violence by activists.

Organizers called the rally, which is expected to branch out into a march to the nearby cabinet offices, to press Egypt's military rulers to keep their promises of reform after a revolt ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.

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Israel Says Turkey Warships to Gaza Threat 'Grave'

Israeli Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor on Friday described as "grave and serious" a threat by the Turkish prime minister to send warships to escort any aid vessels trying to reach the Gaza Strip.

"These remarks are grave and serious, but we have no wish to add to the polemic," Meridor said on army radio.

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U.N. Chief Says Palestinian Statehood 'Long Overdue'

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday said Palestinian statehood was "long overdue", a day after its leadership launched a campaign to become the world body's 194th member state.

"The two state vision where Israel and Palestinians can live... side by side in peace and security -- that is a still a valid vision and I fully support it," he told reporters in Canberra.

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China Ready to Help Libya Reconstruction

China is ready to help Libya rebuild after Moammar Gadhafi's downfall and it supports the United Nations taking a leading role in reconstruction efforts, Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Friday.

"It depends on the needs of the Libyan people themselves, whatever they need we will be willing to help them," Cui told reporters on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland.

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'Terrorists' among Syrian Anti-Regime Protesters, Says Medvedev

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that some Syrians protesting against Bashar Al-Assad's regime are "terrorists" and that the world should urge both sides to refrain from violence.

In an interview with the France-based news channel Euronews, Medvedev admitted the Syrian authorities had been guilty of using "disproportionate force" against protesters, but called the country a "friend" of Russia.

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U.S. Says Will Veto Palestinian State Bid at U.N.

The United States said Thursday it will veto a bid for U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state if it comes to a vote before the U.N. Security Council.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said U.S. opposition to such a move by the Palestinians "should not come as a shock."

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WikiLeaks: Sudan Planned for Normalizing Ties with Israel

Sudan told U.S. officials of its desire to normalize ties with Israel, a leaked diplomatic cable said, in a potentially embarrassing revelation for one of the Jewish state's more outspoken critics.

Mustafa Osman Ismail, a senior adviser to President Omar al-Bashir, said one aspect of proposed cooperation with the United States included normalizing Sudan's relations with Israel, according to a cable published by WikiLeaks.

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NTC 'Seizes' Key Objective in Drive on Gadhafi Hometown

NTC fighters claimed to have captured a key objective Thursday in their drive on Sirte, the hometown of fugitive Moammar Gadhafi, as the ex-Libyan leader dismissed as lies reports he had fled to Niger.

At the same time, talks on a peaceful surrender of the town of Bani Walid, held by Gadhafi loyalists, have ended without success, a National Transitional Council military chief said, raising the prospects of an assault on it.

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Second West Bank Mosque Vandalized, Settlers Blamed

Vandals graphitized a West Bank mosque, torched two Palestinian cars and uprooted olive trees overnight in attacks which locals on Thursday blamed on Jewish settlers.

The mosque in Yatma village some 10 kilometers south of Nablus was spray-painted with Hebrew graffiti reading "price tag" and "Migron" in reference to a settlement outpost where Israeli troops demolished three homes on Monday.

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GCC to Discuss Accession of Jordan, Morocco‎

The foreign ministers of Jordan and Morocco are to hold talks with their six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council counterparts on possible accession to the Gulf bloc, the GCC chief said on Thursday.

Abdul Latif al-Zayani said in a statement the foreign ministers of Jordan and Morocco have been invited to discuss the "strengthening of relations and cooperation" on the sidelines of a GCC meeting on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.

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