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Israel's Barak to Meet New U.S. Defense Chief

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was on Tuesday to fly to Washington where he would meet top U.S. officials, including new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, his office said.

"He is due to fly on Tuesday afternoon for a three-day visit to the United States during which he will meet with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta," spokesman Barak Seri told Agence France Presse.

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Berri Says Lebanon Will Defend its Maritime Borders ‘With All Necessary Means’

Speaker Nabih Berri stressed during a meeting with U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams that the UNIFIL can play a role in the demarcation of the disputed maritime borders with Israel “unless the navy forces of the UNIFIL are only found to monitor our regional waters and shores.”

As Safir newspaper reported on Tuesday that Williams was insisting on his stance during the discussion, saying that the “U.N. isn’t specialized in demarcating any maritime border, and the two disputed countries have to negotiate” over the issue.

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Fransen Hasn’t Yet Decided on Making Public Entire Indictment or Only Part of it

Pre-trial Judge Daniel Fransen is mulling whether to make the entire indictment in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s murder case public or keep parts of it confidential, Special Tribunal for Lebanon spokesman Marten Youssef has unveiled.

Youssef told MTV on Monday that Fransen is still thinking about the issue. He has till August 11 when the 30-day period given to Lebanon to serve out the arrest warrants against four Hizbullah members ends.

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Lebanon Arrests Human Rights Activist, Releases him the Same Day

State commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr released a human rights activist on Monday night the same day he was arrested by the army intelligence for allegedly sending reports to the U.N. on torture cases in Lebanese prisons.

Al-Mustaqbal daily said Tuesday that Activist Saadeddine Shatila was arrested on Monday morning for writing reports about torture cases and informing the U.N. about them in 2010 and for following-up cases of Syrian refugees who began arriving in Lebanon since the start of the uprising against the Assad regime.

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Report: Israel Mulls 'End of Oslo' over U.N. Bid

Israel is weighing the possibility of cancelling the landmark Oslo accords with the Palestinians in response to their plan to seek United Nations membership, the daily Haaretz said on Monday.

Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the newspaper reported that Yaakov Amidror, the head of Israel's National Security Council (NSC), was examining the potential cancellation as one of a number of responses to the U.N. bid.

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New U.S. Ambassador: Time for Afghans to Step Forward

United States ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker took office on Monday, joining a new general at the helm as the U.S.-led mission looks to transfer responsibility to Afghans and exit the country.

Veteran diplomat Crocker took over from outgoing Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, whose fraught relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai were documented extensively in leaked cables revealed in December.

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World Bank Pledges $500 Million for Drought-stricken Horn of Africa

The World Bank on Monday pledged more than $500 million (348 million euros) to aid the drought-stricken Horn of Africa region, as United Nations aid chiefs met in Rome to discuss ramping up relief efforts.

The bulk of the money will go towards long-term projects to aid livestock farmers while $12 million will be for immediate assistance to those worst hit by the crisis and facing starvation, the World Bank said in a statement.

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Israel Complains to U.N. over Williams’ ‘Lenient’ Position on Hizbullah

Israel has issued a complaint to the United Nations over U.N. Special Coordinator of Lebanon Michael Williams’ recent report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, reported the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Sunday.

It deemed the report as being “lenient” with Hizbullah, while U.N. circles said that Israel was “upset with Williams for a number of reasons, most notably the fact that he failed to mention resolution 1559 at Hizbullah’s request.”

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Warring Sudan Opposition Party Rejects Disarmament

Leaders of Sudan's main opposition group, whose men are fighting government troops in South Kordofan, on Saturday rejected calls to disarm and said they would negotiate only via an outside third party.

The northern branch of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the ruling party of South Sudan, in a statement also accused the government of seeking to destroy north-south relations just two weeks after formal southern independence.

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Jazz Great Herbie Hancock a U.N. Culture Ambassador

Jazz great Herbie Hancock wants his music to build bridges between cultures, a mission that fits perfectly with his new role as a U.N. cultural ambassador promoting peace through culture and education.

The 71-year-old — imbued with boundless energy, curiosity and cool-cat poise — is a natural for the job. His "The Imagine Project" album is a multicultural potpourri featuring collaborations with musicians from 11 countries and seven languages. He founded The International Committee of Artists for Peace, too.

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