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FM, Diplomatic Sources: International Drilling Companies Don’t Operate in Disputed Areas

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and diplomatic sources have calmed Lebanese fears that Israel would drill for oil and natural gas in Lebanese waters saying oil drilling companies do not make investments on disputed territory.

“No company can make gas and oil investments in disputed maritime areas,” Mansour told An Nahar daily in remarks published Monday.

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Israel to Seek U.N. Opinion on Maritime Border Spat

Israel is to seek a U.N. opinion on its maritime borders with Lebanon in the Mediterranean, where lucrative offshore gas fields have been found, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday.

"We will soon be presenting the United Nations headquarters in New York with our position on our maritime borders," Lieberman told Israeli public radio.

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Nations Welcome World's Newest State South Sudan

World leaders on Saturday hailed the birth of the world's newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan, as a historic event bringing to a close 50 years of conflict in northeastern Africa.

U.S. President Barack Obama led official recognition of the country, calling it "another step forward in Africa's long journey toward opportunity, democracy and justice."

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Thousands of Chadians Flee Libya Turmoil

Around 2,000 Chadian migrants trapped in war-torn Libya are being flown back to their homeland, the International Organization for Migration said on Saturday.

The group -- mostly women and children -- have been stuck in the southern desert towns of Sabha and Gatroun while trying to flee across the Sahara to Chad.

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UNHCR Says Many Dying en Route While Fleeing Somalia Drought

Many people are dying of hunger while fleeing serious drought in Somalia, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday, warning that aid efforts could be overwhelmed by large numbers of malnourished refugees.

"Many people are dying en route from what we hear," said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

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Report: Sarkozy, U.S. Officials Warned Hariri About Assassination Plot

Former Premier Saad Hariri does not intend to return to Beirut soon after receiving information from Western leaders about the possibility of being targeted in an assassination plot, sources close to the Mustaqbal movement leader said in remarks published Friday.

The sources said that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and high-ranking U.S. and U.N. officials have warned him about the plot.

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Top U.N. Official Slams Report Backing Israel on Flotilla

A U.N. rapporteur Thursday slammed a highly anticipated U.N. report said to back a 2010 Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla aiming to break the Gaza blockade which left nine people dead.

"The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Prof. Olivier De Schutter, has received a draft of this report and he firmly opposes its conclusions," De Schutter's office said in an email.

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Families Flee Syria's Hama as Ban Says Killings 'Must Stop'

Around 100 families have fled Syria's central city of Hama fearing a military crackdown on massive protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a rights group said on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that about 1,000 people in total had left Hama, where it said Syrian troops had killed 23 civilians since Tuesday.

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U.N.: DRCongo Rapes Could Be 'Crimes against Humanity'

Three groups of armed militia could have committed crimes against humanity when they raped at least 387 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010, a U.N. probe said Wednesday.

"Due to the fact that these attacks were well-planned in advance and carried out in a systematic, targeted manner, they could constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes," investigators said in a report.

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U.N. Report: Violence, Discrimination Slow Advances by Women

Women around the world enjoy more rights than ever before but still face discrimination in the workplace and far too often fall victim to violence at home, a U.N. report said Tuesday.

The document issued by U.N. Women, the new agency headed by Chile's former president Michelle Bachelet, hailed the progress women have made at the ballot box, noting that "virtually universal" suffrage now is the rule around the world, compared to a century ago when just two countries allowed women to vote.

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