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Obama Meets Abbas, Says Mideast 'Progress' Possible This Year

President Barack Obama Wednesday pledged unwavering commitment to forge significant progress in the Middle East this year, despite the furor whipped up by Israel's raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.

Welcoming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, Obama promised the "full weight" of U.S. diplomacy on the latest crisis and to push Israelis and Palestinians out of a "dead end" and into direct peace talks.

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Israel Hails New Iran sanctions but Says More Must Be Done

Israel hailed the U.N. Security Council's decision on Wednesday to slap a fourth set of punitive sanctions on Iran but said more must be done to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"It's an important step in the right direction, but the new sanctions are not sufficient," Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told public radio.

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Report: 3 Iran Policemen Killed in Kurdish Bombing Ambush

Three policemen in western Iran have been killed by a roadside bomb detonated by Kurdish rebels, an Iranian state-owned newspaper said Thursday.

The report by the Iran daily said Gen. Faramarz Hosseinzadeh, the local chief of border police, and two other policemen were killed after members of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PEJAK, detonated a roadside bomb near the town of Piranshahr, some 900 kilometers west of Tehran.

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Hizbullah Hits Back at Feltman, Says He is Israeli Agent

Hizbullah blasted Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman for a testimony in which he said Hizbullah is the most technically-capable terrorist group in the world.

Feltman "plays the role of an Israeli official in America," Hizbullah said in a statement.

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Budget Approval Drags On, Cabinet to Continue Debate on Monday

Cabinet again failed to approve the 2010 state budget and decided to continue debate on the issue in a session to be at Baabda Palace on Monday.

Information Minister Tareq Mitri told reporters that Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi briefed Cabinet on the agreement reached between Middle East Airlines and the Pilots Union.

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Suleiman, Jumblat Helped Achieve 50/50 Vote Balance on Iran Sanctions

Cabinet clearly believed that 50/50 was the fair way to get with less fuss over the issue of voting against or abstain from voting for new U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran.

So a decision not to side with either political camp was taken after Cabinet ministers were equally divided between voting against the U.N. proposal and abstaining from the vote.

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U.S. Reportedly Warned Lebanon on Iran Sanctions, Hariri Denies

The Obama administration has reportedly informed Premier Saad Hariri that it "will not tolerate any transfer of Scud missiles to Hizbullah" and advised Lebanon not to vote against U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran.

As Safir daily said Monday Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed Hariri during his visit to Washington that President Barack Obama's priority was Iran and Lebanon's voting at the Security Council which would impact U.S. military assistance to the country.

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