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3 Dead in Tunisia Gunfight with Suspected Libyan Qaida Members

Suspected Libyan al-Qaida militants exchanged fire with security forces in Tunisia Wednesday, leaving two alleged militants and a Tunisian colonel dead, security officials and the government said.

The suspected militants were wearing belts of explosives and were "terrorists, strongly suspected of belonging to the al-Qaida network," a Tunisian security official said.

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Yemen Rivals to Sign Deal to End Crisis

Yemen's political rivals have agreed to sign a Gulf-brokered plan Wednesday to end the country's bloody political crisis, the president's aid told al-Arabiya television, but the opposition was cautious.

When asked if the agreement would be signed Wednesday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's aide Ahmed al-Sufi said: "Yes, it will be today." There has been "positive" and "important progress."

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Swiss Announce Sanctions on Syria

Switzerland announced new sanctions against Syria on Wednesday, saying that it was following the European Union's lead in imposing an embargo on arms and on equipment used for internal repression.

"The new edict on measures against Syria includes an embargo on military assets and equipment that could be used for internal repression," said the Swiss Economy Ministry in a statement.

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Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs in Parliamentary Fistfight

Shiite and Sunni Islamist Kuwaiti MPs fought with fists in parliament Wednesday during a heated debate over Kuwaiti inmates in the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention center.

The parliament was holding a debate over four Kuwaiti detainees in the U.S. prison camp in Cuba when Shiite MP Hussein al-Kallaf provoked some Sunni fellow MPs by dismissing the prisoners as "al-Qaida" militants.

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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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