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Summit of World's Poorest Nations Opens in Istanbul

A five-day U.N. summit with 48 leaders of the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs) began in Istanbul Monday to discuss a new 10-year aid plan to help lift nations out of poverty.

"Investing in the LDCs can provide the stimulus that will help to propel and sustain global economic recovery and stability," said Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, in his opening remarks.

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Ban: Disarmament of Armed Groups Can Best Be Achieved through Political Process

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remains convinced that the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon, in particular Hizbullah, can best be achieved through a political process, a U.N. spokesman said.

"He calls on Lebanese leaders to reconvene the national dialogue under the auspices of President Michel Suleiman," the spokesman Farhan Haq said.

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Williams Meets Berri: Exploiting Resources in Territorial Waters Very Important Reason to Form Government

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams stressed on Friday the need for the formation of a functioning government “the sooner the better.”

He said after holding talks with Speaker Nabih Berri: “There are many concerns of importance to ordinary Lebanese people that need to be addressed, irrespective of their confession or their politics.”

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Netanyahu: Sarkozy Says Palestinians Must OK Israel as Jewish

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy that France wants the new Palestinian government to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

"What I heard from President Sarkozy is that they must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, after a meeting he described as "good, far-ranging and friendly".

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Palestinian Leaders Hail End to Four-Year Rift

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal buried the hatchet at a Cairo reconciliation ceremony on Wednesday that ends a nearly four-year feud but has angered Israel.

Palestinians gathered in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip to celebrate the long-awaited agreement to put an end to the rivalry between the administrations in the West Bank and Gaza, and restore the unity shattered by deadly infighting in June 2007.

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Williams Expresses Concern to Miqati that Cabinet Formation Taking Time

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams on Wednesday expressed support for Premier-designate Najib Miqati lamenting that the cabinet formation process was taking a long time.

“I take this opportunity to express my strong support for Najib Miqati as Prime Minister-designate and his endeavors to form a new government,” Williams said after holding talks with Miqati.

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U.N. Rights Expert Hails 'Power' of Internet

A U.N. human rights expert has marked World Press Freedom Day by hailing the epoch-making power of the Internet and the role online social networking has played in uprisings in the Middle East.

"As one activist tweeted during the protests in Egypt, 'we use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world'," said Frank La Rue, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.

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Gadhafi Regime Accused by UN of Giving Viagra to Troops

The United States on Thursday raised allegations that Moammer Gadhafi's regime gives Viagra to troops to carry out rapes as the UN Security Council wrangled over coalition attacks in Libya, diplomats said.

Russia and other nations have argued that France, Britain, the United States and their allies patrolling a no-fly zone over Libya are going beyond the mandate given by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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HRW Seeks U.N. Probe into Syria Crackdown on Protesters

Human Rights Watch on Friday called for the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the deadly crackdown on protesters in Syria and to "strongly condemn repression of peaceful protests."

"Syria’s President Bashar Assad needs to hear an unequivocal message from the Human Rights Council that violent suppression of peaceful protests is unacceptable and will have consequences," said Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch.

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Shami Did Not Contact Hariri Regarding Lebanon’s Position at Security Council

A Foreign Ministry source told Akhbar al-Yawm news agency that caretaker Foreign Minister Ali Shami will continue on coordinating his positions with Speaker Nabih Berri, while protocol requires him to consult with the prime minister and president.

This position came in light of Shami’s request on Tuesday from Lebanon’s Ambassador to the U.N. Nawwaf Salam not to approve a Security Council statement condemning the use of violence against protestors in Syria.

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