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U.N. Raises Libya Aid Appeal to $407.8 Million

The United Nations on Wednesday raised its aid funding appeal to $407.8 million from $310 million to help over two million people affected by the Libyan conflict.

The sum would extend aid to September 2011, and would help 1.6 million people within Libya, as well as 500,000 others who have fled the country.

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Egypt Military Says No Pardon for Mubarak

Egypt's ruling military council dismissed on Wednesday a report that it might pardon ousted leader Hosni Mubarak or his family, saying it does not intervene in judicial affairs.

"There is absolutely no truth to what has been reported by the media that the supreme council is moving towards a pardon for former president Mohammed Hosni Mubarak or his family," the council stated on its Facebook page.

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Al-Jazeera Journalist Arrive in Doha after Disappearing in Syria

Al-Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz who went missing on her arrival in Syria last month is free and back in Doha, the news channel said on its website Wednesday.

"Al-Jazeera network confirmed... that she has been released, and is safe and in good health," said a statement on the website.

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CNN: Egyptian Named New al-Qaida Leader

Al-Qaida has chosen a former Egyptian Special Forces officer as interim leader of the violent extremist group in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death earlier this month, CNN reported Tuesday.

Saif al-Adel, a top al-Qaida strategist and senior military leader, has been tapped as "caretaker" chief of the group, CNN reported, citing former Libyan militant Noman Benotman, who has renounced al-Qaida's ideology.

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Israeli Minister Cancels Meeting with Syrian Opposition in Vienna

An Israeli deputy minister cancelled a planned meeting Tuesday with members of the Syrian opposition at the offices of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), an FPOe spokesman said.

Israel's deputy minister for development of the Negev and Galilee, Ayoob Kara, "unfortunately had to cancel", FPOe spokesman Karl-Heinz Gruensteidl told Agence France Presse as Israeli public radio said the decision was made "for security reasons."

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Obama: Mideast Talks 'more vital than ever'

U.S. President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that political turmoil battering the Middle East made it "more vital than ever" that Israel and the Palestinians get back to the negotiating table.

Despite a mood of deep pessimism surrounding Obama's peace drive, in Israel, in Washington and in the Palestinian territories, the president said during a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II that frozen talks must be revived.

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Wife Released as Mubarak Pleads for Amnesty

Ousted president Hosni Mubarak's wife was released on Tuesday after handing over her assets to the Egyptian state, as her husband pledged to do the same in a bid to secure an amnesty.

Suzanne Mubarak had been held on corruption charges in a hospital of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, along with her husband, who is also being investigated for allegedly ordering the shooting of anti-regime protesters.

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U.S., EU Warn Syria of Further Steps, France Says Security Council Close to Majority to Condemn Regime

The United States and the European Union warned Tuesday that they will within days take further punitive steps against Syria over its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests, as France said the U.N. Security Council is close to achieving a majority for a resolution to condemn the repression.

The warning came as diplomats in Brussels told Agence France Presse that EU ambassadors were due to decide Tuesday whether to add President Bashar al-Assad's name to a list of Syrian officials targeted by a travel ban and assets freeze.

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25 Kuwaiti MPs Call for Cutting Ties with Syria, Expelling Envoy

Half of Kuwait's MPs urged the government on Tuesday to sever ties with Damascus and expel its ambassador in protest at Syria's deadly crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators.

Twenty-five out of 50 MPs called on the Kuwaiti government to "cut ties with the repressive (Syrian) regime and to expel its ambassador in Kuwait," in a statement received by Agence France Presse.

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Austria Far-Right Party Hosts Meeting between Syrian Dissidents, Israeli Official

An Israeli deputy minister is to meet members of the Syrian opposition in the offices of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) in Vienna later on Tuesday, an FPOe spokesman revealed.

The Israeli official is Ayoob Kara, deputy minister for development of the Negev and Galilee, and he will meet five Syrian opposition members, the names of whom were not revealed, said spokesman Karl-Heinz Gruensteidl, confirming a corresponding report in the tabloid daily Oesterreich.

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