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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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Abbas, Peres Held 'Four Secret Meetings'

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas revealed he held four secret meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres in a bid to revive stalled peace talks, a Palestinian official said Saturday.

He quoted Abbas as saying at a meeting of his Fatah party on Friday that: "I met Shimon Peres four times in Amman and London in an attempt to restart negotiations and the peace process on a correct foundation."

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Afghan Blast Kills Five from Same Family

Five members of the same family were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb ripped through their minivan in insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan, an official said.

The incident happened in Gereshk, a volatile district of Helmand province, as the family traveled to Helmand's main town Lashkar Gah, provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said.

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Ban: Lebanon, Israel Agree to Discuss Maritime Security

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon revealed on Friday that Lebanon and Israel agreed to discuss issues of maritime security through a tripartite mechanism and the possible assistance of local experts, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Saturday.

He made the announcement in a report he presented to the U.N. Security Council.

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Pakistani Buddhist Art Defies Odds to Show in NY

A remarkable trove from Pakistan's little-known Buddhist past has gone on show in New York in an art exhibition that defied floods, riots and explosive U.S.-Pakistani relations before finally crossing the world.

The against-the-odds exhibition, "The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan: Art of Gandhara," features sculptures that have mostly never before been seen in the United States.

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Palestinians Condemn Israeli Settlement Plan

The Palestinians "strongly condemn" an Israeli decision to approve the construction of 1,600 new settler homes in east Jerusalem, a Palestinian official told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced the Israeli interior ministry's announcement Thursday that it had given final approval for the construction of 1,600 homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

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Argentina Prepares for World Tango Championships

About 400 couples are competing in this year's World Tango Championships beginning next week in Argentina's capital, organizers said Wednesday.

More than 500 artists also will participate in the festival that starts Tuesday and runs through Aug. 30.

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