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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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Hizbullah Says March 14 Trying to Implicate U.N. in 'Rumors, Lies'

Hizbullah said Wednesday that the March 14 general-secretariat “has ignored the statement issued by the U.N., which denied accusing” the party of being involved in Syria’s violence, noting that “this group did not settle for the fabrication of rumors and lies, but also tried to implicate the U.N. and its organizations in them.”

“Hizbullah does not usually comment on the statements issued by the March 14 general-secretariat because the content is repetitive, well-known and boring,” the party said in a communiqué.

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World Study Shows Religious Violence, Abuse Growing

Religious-linked violence and abuse rose around the world between 2006 and 2009, with Christians and Muslims the most common targets, according to a private U.S. study released Tuesday.

"Over the three-year period studied, incidents of either government or social harassment were reported against Christians in 130 countries (66 percent) and against Muslims in 117 countries (59 percent)," said the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life study.

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Somali Government Offers Amnesty to Shebab Rebels

Somalia's embattled government offered an open amnesty on Tuesday to Islamist Shebab fighters after the rebels made a surprise withdrawal from the famine-struck capital over the weekend.

The al-Qaida affiliated insurgents have waged a bloody war since 2007 to topple the Western-backed transitional government, which they had hemmed in to a portion of Mogadishu.

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Report: Syria Hasn’t Sent Arrest Warrants Against 33 Figures in Hariri Probe

Informed sources have denied that Syria has sent to Lebanon for the second time arrest warrants against 33 Lebanese personalities in the lawsuit filed by former head of Lebanon’s General Security Department Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed.

The sources told al-Mustaqbal daily published Tuesday that Syria only sent a detailed document on the identities of the 33 figures. They include judges, security officers, politicians, journalists and other Lebanese, Arab and foreign officials and individuals.

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