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Russia Says Not Mediating in Libya War as Envoy Meets Rebels

Russia is not playing the role of mediator in the Libya conflict, Foreign Minister Segei Lavrov said on Tuesday after a Kremlin envoy was dispatched to the rebels' stronghold in Benghazi.

President Dmitry Medvedev's envoy Mikhail Margelov met Libyan rebel leaders on Tuesday in the first trip by a top Russian official to their stronghold, as NATO warplanes pounded the capital.

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Iran Submarines Dispatched to Red Sea

Iran's navy has sent submarines to the Red Sea "to collect data," its first mission in distant waters, the Fars news agency reported Tuesday without giving further details.

"The submarines, dispatched in May, have entered the Red Sea after a mission in the Gulf of Aden to collect data on the sea bed in the high seas and to identify other warships," Fars said quoting an unnamed source.

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Saudi House Backs Women Voting Right -- in 2015

Saudi Arabia's consultative Shoura council has recommended allowing women to vote in the next local polls, in at least four years, without being permitted to run for office, a member said Tuesday.

Saudi men in the ultra-conservative kingdom will vote in September to elect half the members of municipal councils across the country, but Saudi women who are deprived of many basic rights, remain banned from voting.

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Two Saudi Guards Shot Dead on Yemen Borders

Two Saudi border guards were shot dead by a man who attempted to cross the frontier into Yemen before he was killed by Saudi forces, the interior ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

General Mansour al-Turki said a colonel and a sergeant were shot dead, while another sergeant was wounded by a Saudi national whom they tried to stop from crossing into Yemen in a 4x4 vehicle early Tuesday.

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Armed Dissidents Overrun Yemen's city of Taez

Armed dissidents have seized control of most of Yemen's second largest city Taez, following clashes with troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a top tribal chief said Tuesday.

"I consider Taez to have fallen under the control" of the dissidents, Sheikh Hammoud Saeed al-Mikhlafi, the head of the tribal council in Taez told Agence France Presse by telephone.

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Dozens Flee Syria Crackdown into Turkey, One Dies

One person died from gunshot wounds as 41 refugees fleeing unrest in Syria crossed the border into Turkey over the weekend, a Turkish diplomat told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.

"A man with gunshot wounds died in an ambulance heading to a hospital in Turkey, after he crossed the border in a serious condition," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

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Powerful Explosions Shake Center of Tripoli in Libya

Four explosions shook the center of the Libyan capital Tuesday, sending plumes of smoke billowing across an area in which strongman Moammar Gadhafi has his residence, an Agence France Presse correspondent witnessed.

The first blast rocked Tripoli at 10:45 am (0845 GMT) and was followed by three others.

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Settlers in West Bank Try to Burn Down Mosque

Vandals tried to set fire to a mosque in the northern West Bank, causing damage to the inside, Palestinian security sources said on Tuesday, blaming Jewish settlers.

The attackers set fire to a number of tires inside the mosque in al-Mughayyir village, some 20 kilometers northeast of Ramallah, which damaged prayer mats inside the building.

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15 Killed in Clashes between Army, Qaida in Yemen

Heavy clashes between troops and suspected al-Qaida gunmen at the gates of the southern Yemen city of Zinjibar left 15 people dead, nine of them soldiers, the military and medics said Tuesday.

The fighting erupted overnight when troops advanced on Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, as they prepared to wrest it back from the control of suspected al-Qaida militants, who overran most of it on May 29.

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Clinton Reserved about French Mideast Peace Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a cool welcome Monday to a French plan to host a Middle East peace conference, saying it must be linked to a willingness to resume talks.

"The idea of any gathering, conference or meeting has to be linked to willingness by the parties to resume negotiating," the chief U.S. diplomat said during a press conference with her French counterpart Alain Juppe.

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