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Lone Boat Heads to Gaza as Flotilla Stalls in Greece

A lone French yacht was on Wednesday headed for Gaza after sneaking out of Greek waters in defiance of a ban on the departure of aid ships aiming to run Israel's blockade on the coastal strip.

The MV Dignite/Al Karama, which left Greek waters early on Tuesday, is heading slowly towards Gaza, a spokesman for the French Boat to Gaza campaign told Agence France Presse, saying they had not yet given up hope they would be joined by others from the ill-fated Freedom Flotilla which had been due to set sail last week.

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Israel Seeks to Fix Turkey Ties before U.N. Report on Flotilla Raid

Israel's prime minister said on Wednesday ties were improving with Turkey, as officials worked to patch up relations before the release of a U.N. report on last year's fatal raid on a Gaza flotilla.

Speaking in Bucharest at the start of a trip to Romania and Bulgaria, Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel and Turkey were looking to heal the breach in relations that followed the killing in May 2010 of nine Turkish activists by Israeli commandos who stormed a convoy looking to run the blockade on Gaza.

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Sonic Boom Causes 'Explosion' Panic in Tense Cairo

Egypt's interior ministry said Wednesday that a sonic boom from an overflying aircraft was the cause of a loud "explosion" that sent Cairo's residents in a panic.

"The sound of the explosion in the (southern neighborhood) of Maadi and in central Cairo was the sound of a plane that broke the sound barrier," deputy interior minister Murad Mohsen said in a statement.

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Pakistani Taliban Attack Kills Up to 38 Afghans

Up to 33 police and five civilians were killed in fighting after Taliban crossed over from Pakistan and attacked a remote region in eastern Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.

Nuristan provincial governor Jamaluddin Badr said about 40 rebels also died in the two days of clashes that followed weeks of tit-for-tat allegations of cross-border attacks that have fanned diplomatic tensions.

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Iran and Iraq Ink Accords, Vow to Put Past Behind

Baghdad and Tehran pledged on Wednesday to strengthen ties and put the past behind them, even as Washington accuses Iran of supplying new and more lethal weapons to anti-U.S. militias.

Iran and Iraq, which fought a 1980-1988 war that was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the past century, killing an estimated one million people, have drawn closer since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

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Libyan Rebel Leaders to Hold Talks with NATO Council

Libyan rebel leaders for the first time will hold talks with NATO's 28-nation North Atlantic Council on July 13 to present their plans for democratic transition, the organization’s chief said Wednesday.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the rebel forces were making progress in their battle against Moammar Gadhafi's troops while the Libyan leader's "plans to retake country by force have fallen apart."

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Iran Fires Anti-Ship Missiles near Key Gulf Strait

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday launched several anti-ship missiles near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the country's Arabic-language television channel al-Alam reported.

The Guards fired two Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) anti-ship missiles which Iran says are capable of Mach 3 speed and can hit targets at a distance of 300 kilometers.

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HRW Accuses Bahrain of 'Violent Repression'

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday accused Bahrain of carrying out a "campaign of violent oppression" against its citizens and called for an end to abuses.

Pro-reform protesters took to the streets of Bahrain on February 14, but security forces crushed the demonstrations a month later in a bloody crackdown followed by sweeping arrests.

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Report: Bahrain Jails 3 for Spying for Iran

Bahrain has sentenced one of its citizens and two foreigners to 10 years in prison for spying for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Akhbar al-Khaleej newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Bahrain's high criminal court sentenced "three defendants to 10 years in prison for spying for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, one of them a Bahraini and two others" who worked as diplomats in Iran's embassy in Kuwait and were sentenced in absentia, the daily reported.

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Oman: Gulf States in 'Intensive' Talks on Yemen Crisis

Yemen's oil-rich Gulf neighbors are engaged in "intensive consultations" to resolve the long-running political crisis in Sanaa, Oman's foreign minister Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) "continue to conduct intensive consultations with parties in Yemen to overcome the crisis," Abdullah told Agence France Presse late on Tuesday.

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