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Saudi Arabia Beheads Pakistani for Afghan's Murder

A Pakistani national was beheaded by sword in the south west of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for the murder of an Afghan, the interior ministry said.

Mohammed Ayub Ajab Khan was convicted of having killed Khair Mohammed Saz by striking him with several blows from a metallic object, according to a ministry statement carried by official SPA news agency.

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Thai Junta Chief Tipped to Become PM

Thailand's coup leader is expected to be picked as prime minister by the kingdom's new army-dominated national assembly, junta sources said Wednesday, cementing the military's hold on power in the politically turbulent nation.

Army Chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha is likely to be the sole candidate for the premiership when the 197-strong appointed assembly convenes on Thursday to select a new leader for the Southeast Asian country, the sources told AFP.

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German Minister: Qatar Financing IS Jihadists

Germany's development aid minister, Gerd Mueller, on Wednesday accused Qatar of financing the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) operating in Syria and Iraq.

"A story like this always has a history," he said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF. "Who is financing these troops? Hint: Qatar."

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Russia Stages New Military Exercises

The Russian defense ministry said Wednesday it was conducting fresh military exercises in the south of the country as fighting intensified between rebels and government forces in Ukraine.

The major test of long-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems will take place at the Ashuluk base in Russia's southern Astrakhan region, several hundred kilometers (miles) from the fighting in eastern Ukraine, a spokesman told Interfax news agency.

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Report: Tough Conditions on Swap of Islamists for Lebanese Soldiers, Policemen

Jihadists, who are holding Lebanese army troops and policemen captive, have reportedly announced conditions for their release despite the denial of Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq and mediators.

Al-Qaida linked al-Nusra Front members have said they would release one soldier or security forces member held captive earlier this month in return for two Islamists jailed in Lebanon, al-Akhbar daily said Wednesday.

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Uruguay Sending Mission to Lebanon to Meet Syrian Refugees 

A delegation from Uruguay will head to Lebanon on Friday to select 120 Syrian refugees who can go to the South American country, the country's Human Rights Department said.

Forty of the refugees are scheduled to arrive in September and the rest next year.

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Qahwaji to Russia to Diversify Army Weapon Sources

Army chief General Jean Qahwaji is scheduled to travel to Russia soon to discuss ways that Moscow can provide the Lebanese army with military aid, news reports said on Wednesday.

Qahwaji aims to diversify the sources of military weapons provided to Lebanon within the $500 million quota allocated to the army and as part of the one billion Saudi grant in that regard, As Safir daily reported.

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Australia PM: 'Reasonable Chance' of Finding MH370 in New Search

A new underwater hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had a "reasonable chance" of finding the plane, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday, adding that searchers would not give up easily.

Flight MH370 vanished inexplicably en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, and there has been no sign since of the aircraft or the 239 people onboard.

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Ecuador President: Britain Could End Assange Row 'Tomorrow'

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said Tuesday that Britain had the power to resolve the Julian Assange standoff "tomorrow," after the WikiLeaks founder voiced hope he would soon leave Ecuador's embassy in London.

"This could be resolved tomorrow if the United Kingdom gave him the safe-conduct," said Correa, referring to the pass Assange would need to leave the embassy without being arrested to face extradition.

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Pakistan Begins Talks to End Protest Crisis

Pakistani ministers and opposition politicians met anti-government protesters on Wednesday, but talks ended for the day with the two sides appearing no closer to resolving a week-long political crisis that has rattled the restive, nuclear-armed nation.

Thousands of followers of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have been demonstrating outside the parliament building, trying to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office.

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