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U.N. Pays Out $1 Billion from Iraqi Oil Fund

A U.N. panel has approved more than $1 billion in compensation payments for victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The U.N. Compensation Commission says the money will go to five companies and four government or international bodies. It did not disclose the identities of the claimants Thursday but said all are in Kuwait.

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Israel: UNIFIL Bombing a Message to Scale Back Operations Against Hizbullah

Israeli defense officials have said that the latest attack on UNIFIL stems from Hizbullah's fear that the U.N. peacekeeping force will seek greater freedom to search Lebanese villages for weapons without a previous coordination with the Lebanese army.

The bombing of the UNIFIL convoy near the southern port city of Sidon on Tuesday was likely aimed at sending a message to the peacekeepers to scale back their operations against Hizbullah, The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli defense officials as saying.

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Abbas Determined to Ask ‘Security Council for U.N. Membership’

The Palestinians will in September approach the U.N. Security Council to seek full membership in the global body, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Wednesday.

"We are going to the Security Council through a request to the secretary general of the United Nations to seek full membership in the U.N. and recognition of Palestine on the 1967 borders," he said.

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Revolutionary Guards Commander Nominated for Iran Oil Ministry

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday nominated a Revolutionary Guards commander targeted by international sanctions, Rostam Qasemi, to head the strategic oil ministry, reports said.

Brigadier General Qasemi heads the sanctions-hit industrial wing of the elite Guards, Khatam al-Anbiya, which is massively present in the Islamic republic's oil sector.

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Libyan Rivals Deeply Divided over Ways to End Fighting

Parties to Libya's crisis remain deeply divided on how to end the conflict that has raged since an uprising against the regime erupted in February, U.N. special envoy Abdul Ilah al-Khatib said.

Khatib this week visited the rebel capital Benghazi in Libya's east as well as the capital Tripoli, where veteran strongman Moammar Gadhafi has his headquarters.

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Ban, Security Council Urge Lebanon to Bring UNIFIL Attack Perpetrators to Justice

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council strongly condemned the attack against a convoy of vehicles carrying members of the United Nations peacekeeping force near the southern city of Sidon in which five soldiers were wounded.

Ban “deeply disturbed” by the attack targeting the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), according to a statement issued by his spokesperson Martin Nesirky.

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Aoun: Rifi’s Numerous Violations Makes him Ineligible to Remain in his Position

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun stated on Tuesday that Internal Security Force chief Major General Ashraf Rifi’s several violations “make him ineligible to remain in his position in office.”

He said after the Change and Reform bloc’s weekly meeting: “His statement that he was born out of the March 14 camp’s womb is one of his violations because this is not part of the ISF law.”

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Turkey Mulls Harder Line if Israel Refuses to Apologize

Turkey is preparing to harden its attitude towards Israel for its refusal to apologize over last year's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, official sources said on Tuesday.

The Israeli government has to date failed to either say sorry or compensate families of the nine activists who were killed in May last year in a commando raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-owned ferry which was leading the convoy.

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Israeli Official: Hizbullah Exploiting Maritime Border Issue to Wage War against Israel

An Israeli government spokesman accused Hizbullah of exploiting the issue of the maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel in order to wage a war against the Jewish state, reported al-Liwaa daily on Tuesday.

He added that Hizbullah is labeling this matter as “the maritime Shebaa Farms,” noting that it is a strictly political affair, which the party is employing for its interests.

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Report: Senior N. Korea Official Leaves for U.S. Talks

A senior North Korean diplomat left Tuesday for rare talks in the United States, a media report said, amid efforts to restart stalled negotiations on scrapping the North's nuclear programs.

First vice foreign minister Kim Kye-Gwan left Beijing Tuesday morning en route for New York, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a Seoul diplomatic source as saying.

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