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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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Moroccan FM Welcomes Offer to Join GCC

Morocco's foreign minister on Sunday welcomed a Gulf Cooperation Council invitation for his country to join the six-member grouping of Arab monarchies, the Emirati news agency WAM reported.

Taieb Fassi Fihri, visiting the United Arab Emirates on a Gulf tour which took him to oil-kingpin Saudi Arabia, welcomed "the sincere GCC invitation to Morocco to join" the council, WAM said.

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New Gaza Flotilla Threatens Fresh Blow to Israel-Turkey Ties

A new aid flotilla aiming to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip threatens to deal a fresh blow to Turkish-Israeli ties, a year after a bloody Israeli seizure of a Turkish activist ship.

Bilateral relations remain stuck in crisis after several fence-mending meetings between the one-time allies over the past year failed to yield results, a Turkish diplomat told Agence France Presse.

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Russia Tells Gadhafi Envoys to Obey U.N. Resolution

Russia on Tuesday hosted an envoy of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, telling Tripoli to obey a U.N. resolution on Libya as Moscow seeks to position itself as a mediator in the conflict.

The visit to Moscow by Mouhammad Ahmed al-Sharif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society, the Libya-based group founded by Gadhafi, comes as Russia is also preparing to hold talks with rebels fighting the regime.

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Bahrain Parliament Accepts Shiite MPs Resignation

Bahrain's parliament voted Tuesday to accept the resignations of the remaining seven Shiite opposition MPs, who had walked out along with 11 others in February in protest against violence.

The parliament announced "accepting the resignation of the remaining members (representing) al-Wefaq Islamic Association in the chamber," BNA state news agency said.

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Syrian Govt Denies Existence of Mass Grave as Opposition Calls General Strike

Syria's opposition called for a general strike Wednesday in defiance of a government campaign to crush pro-democracy protests, as the army pressed its siege of the restive town of Tall Kalakh, the latest target of its violent crackdown.

"Wednesday will be a day of general strike in Syria," said a statement posted on the Facebook page of the Syrian Revolution 2011, an Internet-based opposition group that has been a motor of protests that erupted two months ago.

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Israel Expels Two Palestinian Infiltrators from Syria

Two Palestinian protesters who infiltrated Israel from Syria on Sunday during huge demonstrations on the Israeli border were deported on Tuesday, a military spokeswoman said.

"Two people who infiltrated the Golan from Syria were expelled through Quneitra," she said, referring to a crossing post situated on the United Nations-supervised armistice line between Syria and Israel.

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Report: Mubarak to Apologize to Egyptians, Plead for Amnesty

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is to apologize to the nation and plead for amnesty, three months after he was overthrown by a popular uprising, according to a report in the independent daily al-Shorouk.

The report to appear in Tuesday's edition quoted Egyptian and Arab official sources as saying that Mubarak was "drafting a letter which will be broadcast on Egyptian and Arabic channels, apologizing on behalf of himself and his family for any offence caused to the people."

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