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Iran 'Respects' South Sudan Independence

Iran "respects" South Sudan's choice of independence, the foreign ministry said on Sunday, less than two weeks after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized partition of Africa's largest nation.

"Now that developments have led to the formation of an independent government in South Sudan, Iran respects the southerners' choice," said a ministry statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

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Iran and China Ink Agreements Totalling $4 Billion

Iran and China on Saturday signed a series of agreements worth $4 billion (2.8 billion euros) for infrastructure projects as part of a broader bid to boost trade volume between the two nations, Iranian state media reported.

As part of a $500 million (354 million euros) deal, China agreed to provide Iran with 60 energy recovery incinerators, which are to be installed within a year in major cities and in Iran's northern tourism hub along the Caspian sea.

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NATO to Probe Afghan Civilian Death Claims

NATO said Friday it would investigate Afghan claims that six civilians were killed during a military operation targeting the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network.

Provincial government officials said the six, one of them an 11-year-old girl, died during an operation on Thursday in the eastern province of Khost.

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U.S. Sour on Arab U.N. Bid for Palestinian Statehood

The United States said Thursday that it disagreed with the Arab League after it said it would submit a request for recognition of a Palestinian state to the United Nations.

"We do not believe attempts to resolve final status issues in international bodies like the United Nations are able to bring about the enduring peace, which both the parties and the United States seek," the State Department said in a written statement.

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South Sudan Becomes Newest Member of U.N.

South Sudan Thursday became the newest member of United Nations, as it joined the world's top club amid pledges to help one of the planet's poorest states take its first steps.

"I declare South Sudan a member of the United Nations," said Joseph Deiss, president of the U.N. General Assembly, after a vote by acclamation admitted the country as the U.N.'s 193rd member.

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Bomber Kills 4 at Memorial for Afghan President's Brother

A suicide attack on Thursday struck memorial prayers for the assassinated brother of the Afghan president, killing four people including a senior cleric in a mosque, officials said.

Interior ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi said 13 people were also wounded when the bomber blew himself up in the southern city of Kandahar, where cabinet ministers visiting from the capital Kabul had been in attendance.

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U.N.: Afghan Civilian Casualties Rise 15%

The number of civilians killed in the Afghan war in the first half of 2011 rose 15 percent, the United Nations said Thursday, putting the year on track to be the deadliest in a decade.

The disturbing rise in deaths came after the United States sent thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan and said levels of violence in the 2011 fighting season would be an indication of the extent to which it had worked.

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Security Council Recommends U.N. Admit South Sudan

The Security Council on Wednesday recommended the admission of South Sudan as the newest member of the United Nations, a decision which goes to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.

The move comes after South Sudan declared independence before tens of thousands of its citizens and numerous foreign leaders Saturday following nearly 50 years of war with Sudan and millions of deaths.

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Lebanon Insistent that U.N. Demarcate Maritime Border

Lebanon has stressed its right to demarcate its maritime border in order to take advantage of its offshore oil wealth, security sources told the Central News Agency on Wednesday.

It demanded, during the regular tripartite meeting between Lebanon, Israel, and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon held on the Lebanese-Israeli border at Ras al-Naqoura, that the U.N. take over the matter of demarcating the border.

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Mirza Says No Need to Speed up Arrest of Suspects Named in Indictment

Prosecutor General Saeed Mirza said that there is time to find and arrest the four people named in the warrants issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s assassination.

“We have 30 days to deal with the issue,” Mirza told An Nahar newspaper on Wednesday.

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