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Assad Meets U.S. Lawmaker, Talks of People's Legitimate Demands

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke Tuesday of the legitimate demands of his people during a meeting with visiting U.S. congressman Dennis Kucinich, SANA state news agency said.

Assad told the anti-war Democratic Representative of "current events in Syria and the implementation of reforms" during their talks in Damascus, the agency reported.

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Tunisia's Islamists Pull Out of Reform Commission

Tunisia's Islamist movement Ennahda (Renaissance), has definitively pulled out of a national commission tasked with bringing in political reforms, its leader Rached Ghannouchi said Monday.

The commission "believes it has a popular legitimacy, when it hasn't," Ghannouchi told a press conference in Tunis, reproaching the panel for its "condescension."

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ICC Judge Issues Arrest Warrant for Gadhafi, Son

War crimes court judges Monday issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and two of his closest allies for crimes against humanity committed against opponents of his regime, a judge said.

"The chamber hereby issues a warrant of arrest against Moammar Gadhafi," Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said during a hearing at the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

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Syrian Refugees in Turkey Down to 11,100

The number of Syrians taking refuge at tent cities in Turkey has decreased to 11,122 after several hundred people went back home, Turkish officials said Monday.

"On June 26-27, 375 of those who had crossed to our country returned home of their own free will, while another 39 Syrian citizens were admitted in," the emergency situations agency said on its website.

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Egyptian Army Committed to September Polls

Egypt's ruling military council remains committed to holding parliamentary elections in September, despite mounting calls for a delay, a military source told Agence France Presse on Monday.

"The military council insists on what it has already announced regarding (holding) elections at the end of September, in accordance with the result of a referendum" held in March, the source said.

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Mofaz Warns Palestinian Statehood Bid 'Could Lead to War'

A unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in September could lead to fresh conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and destabilize the whole region, a senior Israeli politician has warned.

In an interview with Agence France Presse, Shaul Mofaz, who heads the powerful parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he would urge French leaders not to support the bid during a visit to Paris on Monday.

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Israel Plots Ways to Repel New Gaza Flotilla

Israel's security cabinet was to convene on Monday for a second day of discussions on how to stave off an international flotilla intending to breach the naval blockade of Gaza, local media said.

On Sunday, ministers in the forum were told of the military's preparations for the 10-ship convoy which is expected to set sail from Greece later this week.

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Gadhafi to Stay Out of Libya Peace Talks

African leaders Sunday welcomed Moammar Gadhafi's decision to stay out of talks to end Libya's conflict, entering its fifth month, as fighting raged between his troops and rebels near Tripoli.

Multiple rocket and heavy machine-gunfire was heard on the plains below the rebel enclave in the Nafusa Mountains, southwest of Tripoli.

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Iran Denies EU Charges Linking Revolutionary Guards to Syria Crackdown

Iran on Sunday reiterated that it does not interfere in the affairs of its regional Arab ally Syria and accused the European Union of leading a "baseless" campaign against Tehran by imposing sanctions.

"The baseless EU claims in connecting events in Syria to the Revolutionary Guards reveal the bloc's efforts to create a campaign against the Islamic republic and to distort reality," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement.

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Iran to Stage Missile Wargames from Monday

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are to launch military exercises on Monday with the firing of different range ballistic missiles, the state news agency IRNA reported.

The exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-6, are to start on Monday, said a Guards commander, General Ami Ali Hadjizadeh, quoted by IRNA, without specifying how long the maneuvers will last.

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