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Italy FM: Assad is Not Gadhafi and Libya is Not Syria

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini drew a distinction between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Libyan leader Moammer Gadhafi, saying Assad had proposed reforms and played a strong diplomatic role.

"Assad made promises for reforms that he didn't keep. Gadhafi never promised reforms," Frattini said in an interview with Corriere della Sera daily.

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U.S. Middle East Envoy Resigning, Hale to Replace Mitchell

President Barack Obama Friday announced his "tireless" envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, was resigning, but vowed the U.S. administration remained committed to the faltering peace process.

Describing Mitchell as having taken on "the toughest job imaginable," Obama paid tribute to the veteran diplomat who had "worked grueling hours to advance the interests of the United States and the cause of peace."

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Mubarak Wife Suffers ‘Suspected Heart Attack’ after Being Ordered Held

Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, was moved to an intensive care unit after suffering a heart attack Friday, hours after being ordered detained in a corruption probe, state TV said.

"Suzanne Thabet has been moved to the intensive care unit at Sharm el-Sheikh hospital after suffering a heart attack," state TV said, referring to Egypt's Red Sea resort.

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London Summons Syrian Envoy as Ankara Says 'Early' to Call on Assad to Go

Britain summoned Syria’s ambassador Friday in coordination with other EU nations to warn of fresh sanctions against the regime if it fails to stop a crackdown on protesters, as Turkey's premier said it was premature to say whether President Bashar al-Assad should quit.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said it had "called in the Syrian Ambassador Dr. Sami Khiyami ... to express the UK’s strong concerns about the ongoing situation in Syria."

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U.N. Rights Chief Steps Up Pressure over Syria Toll

The office of the U.N. human rights chief said on Friday that it was extremely worried about reports that 700 to 850 people have been killed in Syria's pro-democracy protests since March.

A spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay again urged Syrian authorities to halt its bid to "silence opponents".

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Thousands Rally for Unity in Egypt's Tahrir Square

Thousands of people rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday calling for unity and the rule of law to be enforced after attacks on churches, state television reported.

Footage aired from the iconic square, the epicenter of protests that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in February, showed thousands of protesters waving flags and banners in support of national unity.

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5 Killed in Syria Despite Dialogue Offer

At least five people were killed in Syria, activists said, despite an order from President Bashar Assad for security forces not to open fire on protesters and an offer of dialogue.

Friday's bloodshed cast a pall over the government's pledges to forge ahead with reforms in Syria, which has been gripped by two months of deadly protests.

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Five Yemen Soldiers Killed in Suspected Qaeda Ambush

Suspected al-Qaida rebels ambushed an army vehicle and killed five soldiers near the Yemeni town of Marib, east of the capital Sanaa, on Friday, a security official told Agence France Presse.

"The vehicle was ambushed with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and all five soldiers inside died," the official said. "Al-Qaida is suspected of carrying out this attack."

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Russia Warns Against Foreign Intervention in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Friday against foreign intervention in Syria, calling on the Syrian opposition not to seek a repeat of the "Libya scenario".

"We are very worried that the process of reconciliation, the process of the start of dialogue ... is being slowed down by a desire of some participants to attract foreign forces to support their actions," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying.

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Israel Police on High Alert as 'Nakba' Events Begin

Israeli security forces were on high alert on Friday for fear of violence as the Palestinians begin marking the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" which befell them following Israel's establishment in 1948.

"The police are on high alert and we have deployed thousands of police officers in and around Jerusalem, as well as in the north," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Agence France Presse.

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