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Iran Says Palestine Statehood 'Step Forward' for Full Liberation

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that the potential recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations should only be a "step forward" for the "full liberation" of Palestine.

His strong remarks calling for Israel's "disappearance" came as tens of thousands marched in the capital at a "Quds Day" rally, an annual regime-sanctioned demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel, according to footage aired on state television.

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Qatar Emir Tells Syria Force is 'Fruitless,' Urges Serious Reforms

The emir of Qatar criticized Syria for using force against protesters demanding democratic change, describing the approach as fruitless and urging serious reforms, QNA state news agency said Friday.

"All of us, who stood by Syria in its difficult times, have tried to encourage our brothers in Syria to make real reforms," said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who was on a visit to Iran.

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U.N. Team Ends Syria Mission: Security Forces Still Using Lethal Force

A U.N. humanitarian team ended Thursday an inspection mission to Syria even though security forces are still using "excessive and lethal force" against demonstrators, officials said.

The team, which President Bashar al-Assad let into Syria last weekend after months of U.N. pressure, went to Damascus, Homs, Banias, Latakia, Hama, Aleppo and Idlib, said U.N. under secretary general B. Lynn Pascoe.

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Sarkozy Says China's Role in Economy Talks 'Essential'

China has an "essential role" to play in efforts to boost the global economy at the next G20 meeting in November, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Thursday.

Sarkozy made the comments to President Hu Jintao during a brief stopover in China, the world's second largest economy, amid growing concern over the debt crises in the Eurozone and the United States.

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Afghan Parliament Rejects New Vote Decision

Afghanistan's parliament on Wednesday rejected a decision by the war-torn country's vote authorities to replace nine MPs as part of efforts to settle a long-running dispute over last year's elections.

After almost a year of street protests and controversy over last September's fraud-tainted parliamentary polls, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) this week ordered that nine MPs be replaced.

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EU Releases New Syrian Repression Blacklist

The EU on Wednesday named Iran's elite al-Quds force, five Syrian generals and the military intelligence network in Damascus on a new list of those sanctioned for their role in repression the U.N. says has killed 2,200 people.

The much-feared wing of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was listed for having provided "technical assistance, equipment and support to the Syrian security services to repress civilian protest movements," the European Union's Official Journal showed.

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Russia Considers to Establish Ties with Libya Rebels but Urges Talks

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said there were still two powers in Libya despite the success of rebels against the forces of Moammar Gadhafi, and called for talks to resolve the situation.

"Despite the successes of the rebels, Gadhafi and his supporters still have a certain influence and military potential. We want them to sit down at the negotiating table and reach agreements on future peace," he said.

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Western Powers Target Assad with U.N. Sanctions

European nations and the United States pressed Wednesday for U.N. sanctions against Syria's President Bashar Assad and his entourage for their deadly crackdown on opposition protests.

A draft resolution circulated to the 15 nation Security Council on Tuesday by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal also calls for a total arms embargo against the country.

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Abbas to Meet Feltman in Doha

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas meets on Tuesday the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, in Doha as Washington presses the Palestinians to abandon plans to bid from UN membership next month, an Arab diplomat said.

The meeting will take place as several Arab foreign ministers convene after a request by the Palestinian Authority "to maintain cohesion in the Arab stand," the diplomat told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity.

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U.N. Rights Council Orders Probe into Syria Violations

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday ordered a probe into violations committed by the Syrian regime during its crackdown on popular protests.

By 33 votes to four, with nine abstentions, the council passed a resolution to "urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry... to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law ... in the Syrian Arab Republic."

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