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EU Urges 'Early' Quartet Meeting on Mideast Peace

The European Union, welcoming U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East policy shift, Monday called for an "early meeting" of the Quartet group of world powers seeking an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

It also welcomed the recent reconciliation between rival Palestinian leaders from Fatah and Hamas and reiterated readiness to recognize a Palestinian state "when appropriate".

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Gadhafi Must Leave Libya, U.S. Says, As Feltman Visits Rebels

The United States on Monday called on Moammar Gadhafi to leave Libya as Washington's most senior envoy to date held talks in the rebel capital in another boost to forces fighting to oust the strongman.

Washington's call came a day after the European Union opened an office in the rebel bastion of Benghazi to show its "long term" support to the rebels who took their diplomatic offensive to NATO's sole Muslim member Turkey.

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EU Tightens Sanctions on Iran, 100 Firms ‘Blacklisted’

The EU tightened its sanctions on Iran on Monday, adding more than 100 firms to a blacklist of companies hit by an assets freeze over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, diplomats said.

EU foreign ministers adopted the new restrictive measures amid efforts to jump start international talks aimed at convincing Iran to halt its nuclear activities.

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EU Slaps Sanctions on Assad, Syria Slams Move as Meddling in Its Affairs

Europe tightened the noose on President Bashar al-Assad Monday, imposing sanctions on the Syrian leader for the first time while calling for quick Middle East peace talks as it responded to the Arab Spring.

Long reluctant to target the Syrian leader directly, the European Union's decision to slap an assets freeze and travel ban on Assad is the latest in a string of measures against his regime, though the effects are unclear.

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Gulf Monarchies Suspend Yemen Mediation Efforts

Ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced Sunday they had suspended mediation efforts in Yemen, after the country's president failed to sign a transition deal for him to quit office.

The GCC had "decided to suspend their initiative in the absence of the propitious conditions," said a statement issued from Riyadh.

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Syria Buries More Victims amid Demos in Homs, Damascus Suburb

Funerals were held on Sunday for victims of a fierce Syrian government crackdown on anti-regime protests that killed about 50 people in two days, five of them in a funeral procession, activists said.

In the city of Homs, an epicenter in central Syria of the nine-week uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, hundreds of protesters took to the streets, chanting "down with the regime," an activist said.

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Obama Says U.S. Commitment to Israel Security 'Ironclad',‎ Vows Pressure on Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama vowed Sunday to "keep up pressure" on Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons and forcefully defended his call for an Israeli-Palestinian peace based on pre-1967 frontiers, suggesting critics had misrepresented him.

Outlining U.S. and U.N. sanctions imposed on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime, Obama said Iran is now "virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system."

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Bahrain Court Upholds Death Sentences for 2 Shiites in Police Killings

A special Bahrain court upheld on Sunday death sentences for two Shiites convicted of killing two policemen during unrest that hit the Sunni-ruled kingdom, the official BNA news agency said.

"The National Safety Appeals Court upheld the death sentence Sunday against Ali Abdullah Hasan al-Singace and Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim Hussein," BNA reported.

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Britain Ends Military Mission in Iraq

Britain concluded its naval training mission in Iraq on Sunday, more than eight years after it contributed the second largest contingent of troops to the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Despite having pulled out the vast majority of its troops in mid-2009, Britain's Royal Navy has continued to train Iraqi personnel to defend their territorial waters and offshore oil installations.

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In Benghazi, EU's Ashton Vows Backing to Libya Rebels

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Sunday vowed to offer the European Union's long term support to Libyan rebels, hours after NATO bombed the port of Tripoli and Moammar Gadhafi's compound near the capital.

Ashton, on a visit to the rebel-held eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, is to open a European Union mission office in a city hotel later Sunday and she will also address a news conference.

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