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Dissidents: FBI Probing Threats against Syrians in U.S.

The FBI is investigating allegations that Syria is intimidating and threatening dissidents in the United States, according to U.S.-based Syrians who say federal agents have questioned them.

Three dissidents who met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington two weeks ago told Agence France Presse that FBI agents raised concerns about their safety and asked who might be behind the campaign.

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U.N. Pulls Non-Essential Staff from Syria

The United Nations on Wednesday said it had withdrawn about 25 international staff and dozens of families of expatriate workers from Syria because of mounting security fears.

"Due to security concerns, we have taken the decision to relocate about 25 non-essential international staff, plus dependents, from Syria," Farhan Haq, the deputy U.N. spokesman, said in New York.

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West, Arab Nations Call for Special U.N. Rights Session on Syria

European countries, the United States and Arab countries will ask the United Nations' top human rights body to hold a special session on the human rights situation in Syria, diplomats told Agence France Presse Wednesday.

"We will submit the request (Wednesday) evening to convene a special session of the Human Rights Council on Monday," according to one European diplomat who wished to remain anonymous.

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Geagea, Gemayel Meet Abbas, Stress Need to Establish Palestinian State

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stressed on Wednesday the Palestinian people’s right to return to their homeland, which is a position shared by the Lebanese state and Palestinian Authority.

He made his statement after holding talks with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Report: Israel Ministers Debate Palestinian U.N. Bid

Ministers in the Israeli security cabinet were meeting on Wednesday to discuss the possible scenarios in September when Palestinians try to secure U.N. membership, Israel's main radio stations said.

The meeting was called by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to talk through assessments of how things would play out in New York when the General Assembly meets in mid-September, as well as looking at the expected wave of rallies and demonstrations of support across the Palestinian territories.

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Mansour: Lebanon Has Not Agreed to Discuss Maritime Border with Israel

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour denied on Monday media reports that Lebanon had agreed to discuss the maritime border with Israel.

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper had recently reported United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon as saying that Lebanon and Israel agreed to discuss issues of maritime security through a tripartite mechanism and the possible assistance of local experts.

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U.N.: Crimes against Humanity May Have Been Committed in Sudan

Allegations of summary executions, aerial bombardments of civilians and enforced disappearances in Sudan's South Kordofan could constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes, the U.N. said Monday.

"If substantiated (the allegations) could amount to crimes against humanity, or war crimes for which individual criminal responsibility may be sought," according to the preliminary results of a U.N. investigation into a series of incidents in South Kordofan between June 5 and 30.

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Israel Okays 277 New Homes in Settlement

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has given the green light to build 277 new homes in the Ariel settlement of the occupied West Bank, his office said on Monday.

"Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week approved the marketing of 277 housing units in the Neuman district in Ariel," it said, referring to a sprawling settlement deep inside the northern West Bank.

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Malnutrition Ravaging Somali Refugees in Ethiopia

Mohamed Ibrahim fled to Ethiopia to seek relief from a harsh drought devastating his country Somalia, but misery stalked him in refuge where malnutrition recently killed his one-year-old son.

The desperate exodus by tens of thousands of Somalis to find assistance across borders has taken them to refugee settlements, where spartan living conditions, congestion and threat of disease are making survival difficult.

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Palestinian FM: Lebanon to ‘Have a Lot of Influence’ in U.N. Bid

The Palestinian foreign minister has said that the Palestinians expect their bid for United Nations recognition will receive a boost from Lebanon's taking over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council.

Riad Malki said Saturday the Palestinians will press ahead as planned with their independence bid in late September.

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