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Paper: Syria Says Peace Meet Invites Unsent, Blames Opposition

Invitations to a Syria peace meeting in Switzerland next month have not been issued as planned because of delays in the formation of an opposition delegation, a Syrian newspaper said Tuesday.

"An official source at the foreign ministry said that invitations to attend the 'Geneva 2' conference were not sent out as planned on December 28th," reported the Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the Syrian regime.

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Switzerland Grants Khodorkovsky Three-Month Visa

Switzerland said Monday it had granted a three-month visa to Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been staying in a German luxury hotel since his release from a Russian prison.

Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon, was jailed for 10 years for financial crimes but pardoned over a week ago by President Vladimir Putin in a deal that Germany helped broker behind the scenes.

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Four Dead, Two Hurt in French, Swiss Alps Avalanches

At least four skiers died and two others were critically injured as avalanches hit the French and Swiss Alps after heavy snowfalls and relatively mild temperatures, police said Friday.

Near the Swiss resort of St. Moritz an off-piste skier of unidentified nationality was swept away by an avalanche on the slopes of the Piz Nair.

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Switzerland Helicopter Crash Leaves Five Injured

A helicopter crash in central Switzerland on Saturday hurt the pilot and four other occupants -- but a seven-year-old child on board escaped uninjured, police said.

Two of the occupants -- the mother of the child and a flight assistant -- were severely hurt in the accident, which occurred as the 45-year-old pilot was attempting to land the helicopter in a parking lot on a military-owned field in the canton of Glaris.

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Swiss Expert Insists Arafat Poisoning Likely despite France Finding

A French report ruling out poisoning in Yasser Arafat's 2004 death has a glaring inconsistency, the co-author of a Swiss probe said Thursday, sticking by his team's conclusion that the Palestinian leader was likely killed.

"Our data lean more towards the thesis of poisoning than in the opposite direction," Professor Francois Bochud, head of the Lausanne Institute of Applied Radiophysics, told AFP.

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Swiss Magazine Snoops on Spy Chief to Turn Tables

A Swiss magazine said Thursday it had spent 24 hours snooping on the Alpine country's intelligence boss to give spies a taste of their own medicine.

Stefan Howald, deputy editor of the left-wing weekly WochenZeitung (WOZ), said it had managed to gather a raft of private information about spy-in-chief Markus Seiler.`

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Swiss Foreign Minister Elected President

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter was Wednesday elected president of the Alpine country for 2014, taking over from Defense Minister Ueli Maurer.

The Swiss presidency rotates every year between the seven members of the country's cross-party cabinet, with the role of the head of state largely symbolic.

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Swiss Lawmaker Dropped over Israel Remark

A local deputy from Switzerland's populist Geneva Citizens' Movement (MCG) was excluded from the regional party on Friday for appearing to support the destruction of Israel.

Denis Menoud wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday that following Iran's historic nuclear deal with the West, "the key thing is that Israel is on the path to being incinerated."

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17 Hurt as Fire Ravages Restaurant in Switzerland

Seventeen people were slightly injured and around 50 evacuated Sunday when a fire swept through a restaurant in the Swiss city of Lausanne, police said.

The fire broke out around 4:00 pm (1500 GMT) in a restaurant on the ground floor of a six- or seven-story building, local police spokesman Michel Gandillon told Agence France Presse.

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Findings of Arafat Death Probe Handed to Palestinians

Palestinian authorities have received the reports of Swiss and Russian forensic investigations into the 2004 death of Yasser Arafat, an official said Tuesday, without disclosing the findings.

"The report was delivered" by the Swiss laboratory, Tawfiq Tirawi, who heads the Palestinian investigation into Arafat's death, told Agence France Presse.

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