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Maliki to Visit Iran as Coalition Talks Hot up

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is fighting to keep his job after an inconclusive March 7 general election, is to visit neighboring Iran soon, a close aide said on Saturday.

"The prime minister will visit Iran soon but I cannot confirm when," the official from Maliki's office told AFP.

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Australia Says Very High Risk of Terror Attack in Yemen

Australia has lifted its travel warning for Yemen to its highest possible level, saying there was a "very high threat of terrorist attack" in the Arabian peninsula's poorest nation.

The updated travel advisory released late Friday comes just days after United States President Barack Obama warned that Al-Qaida was pursuing a "murderous agenda" in the increasingly violent state.

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Ex-Guantanamo Qaida Suspect Surrenders to Saudis

A former Guantanamo detainee who rejoined Al-Qaida in Yemen after graduating from Saudi Arabia's rehabilitation programme has turned himself in to Saudi authorities, the government said on Friday.

Jaber Jabran al-Faifi, about 35, contacted the Saudi government in recent weeks saying he wanted to return home and a handover was arranged through Yemen's government, interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said.

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Iran Exports First Petrochemicals to Egypt

An Iranian official said Tehran has exported its petrochemicals to Egypt, a country with which it has still not restored diplomatic ties broken more than 30 years ago.

"The first shipment of 25,000 tons of petrochemicals was sent to Egypt," Iran's Mehr news agency quoted Reza Hamzelou, director of Petrochemicals Commercial Co, which sells petrochemicals at home and abroad, as saying.

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18 Killed, 14 Wounded in Blast at Revolutionary Guards Base

Eighteen people were killed in a fire at an ammunitions store in a Revolutionary Guards base in Iran, the Fars news agency quoted a commander of the elite force as saying Wednesday in the latest toll.

"In yesterday's explosion at one of the Guards' bases in Lorestan (in western Iran), 18 people were killed and 14 wounded," commander Yadollah Bouali said.

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Iraq PM to Visit Syria Wednesday after Year-long Row

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is to visit Syria on Wednesday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad after a year-long spat between the neighbors sparked by massive bombings in Baghdad.

"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is to start on Wednesday, tomorrow, a visit to Syria, our brother country, where he will meet his Excellency, President Bashar al-Assad, and Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri," it said.

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France: Option of UN Creating Palestinian State Cannot be Ruled Out

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the option of the UN Security Council creating a Palestinian state cannot be ruled out, in an interview published Sunday.

Kouchner told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam that France preferred a two-state solution to be negotiated with Israel, but said appealing to the Security Council to resolve the conflict remained a possibility.

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Israel Allows 300 Druze Clerics to Visit Syria for First Time

Around 300 Israeli Druze are for the first time to be allowed into Syria for a religious visit after they were given permission by the interior ministry, the head of Israel's Druze community said on Thursday.

The visit will see a large group of Druze religious leaders travelling to Syria for a week-long visit during which they will tour pilgrimage sites and visit relatives there.

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UAE Revokes Planned BlackBerry Services Ban

The United Arab Emirates said on Friday that a planned ban on BlackBerry services that had been due to come into effect next week will not go ahead.

"BlackBerry services will carry on as usual and will not be suspended on October 11," said a statement from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) carried by the state WAM news agency.

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Assad, Hakim Call for Iraqi Unity Government

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a joint call on Tuesday with visiting Iraqi Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim for a national unity government to be formed in Iraq.

Assad and Hakim discussed "the ongoing dialogue between the various parliamentary blocs to find a solution to the formation of an Iraqi government," the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

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