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U.S. Names Administration Insider as New Ambassador to India

President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated former State Department official Rich Verma to be the new U.S. ambassador to India.

Verma, an Indian-American and lawyer by trade, served in Obama's first term and is seen as close to the administration.

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Report: Syrian Admits to Witnessing Beheading of Arsal Captive

The army has arrested three Syrians, one of whom admitted to witnessing the beheading of a Lebanese soldier taken captive by jihadists in the northeastern border town of Arsal.

The three Syrians, who had infiltrated Lebanon, were arrested in the Baalbek town of Iaat three days ago.

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In Lebanon, Jihadist Threat Breeds Fear, but also Farce

As Islamic State fighters have advanced in neighboring Syria and after the brutal beheading of two of its soldiers, Lebanon has reacted with fear but also dark humor mocking the jihadists.

After a deadly battle between Lebanese troops and jihadists flowing from Syria into the town of Arsal in August, many Lebanese started greeting each other with a characteristic mixture of concern and jest. 

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S. Korea Fires Warning Shots after N. Korea Incursion

The South Korean navy fired warning shots Friday to end a brief incursion by a North Korean patrol boat across the sensitive maritime border, Seoul's defence ministry said.

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Vatican Shrugs Off Warning of IS Plot against Pope in Albania

Warnings that the Islamic State organisation may be plotting to attack Pope Francis during his visit to mostly-Muslim Albania on Sunday have been shrugged off by the Vatican.

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Gemayel Deems Presidential Polls a Priority, Says No Legislation amid Vacuum

Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel stressed on Friday that the election of a new head of state is a priority that should precede legislation, acknowledging difficulties in resolving the political impasse.

He stressed in comments published in the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the current parliament should only convene to elect a new president, clarifying that his party rejects to meet to discuss draft-laws in the absence of a president.

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Lebanon in Limbo over Growing Number of Syrian Refugees

The Lebanese government is expected to meet to discuss the fate of the growing number of Syrian refugees after cabinet members and the United Nations refused to establish camps to house them on the border with Syria.

Several ministers rejected the idea during a session held under Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Thursday over fears that the shantytowns would turn into training camps for jihadists.

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Berri Refuses to Challenge Extension of Parliament's Term: Polls to Facilitate Election of New President

Speaker Nabih Berri stressed on Friday that he will accept the extension of the parliament's term if a new head of state was elected, ruling out that he would challenge the decision to prolong the legislature's tenure.

“I would accept the extension of the parliament's term only if a serious and real agreement to elect a consensual president preceded it,” Berri said in comments published in local newspapers.

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Qatar Envoy in Beirut as Lebanon on Edge over Beheading Threat

Qatar's envoy, who is tasked with mediating the release of Lebanese soldiers and policemen taken captive by jihadists from a border town, is expected to arrive in Beirut on Friday amid hopes by their families that the hostages will escape beheading.

The envoy, a Syrian, is scheduled to meet with members from the Muslim Scholars Committee and officials close to al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front away from media spotlight.

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Egypt Accused of Using Detention to Silence Opponents

In his white prison uniform, Sherif Farag was forced to present his thesis behind bars where he spent months without trial, a procedure Egypt's government is accused of using to silence its opponents.

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