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Williams Hails Berri’s ‘Positive Role’ in Formation of Cabinet

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams welcomed on Tuesday the “positive role” played by Speaker Nabih Berri in the formation of the government.

“I welcomed the formation of the Lebanese government last week and also the particular role that Speaker Nabih Berri played, the positive role, in the formation of the government,” Williams said after holding talks with head of the Amal movement.

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Syria to Allow Red Cross Access to Unrest Areas

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday after talks with Syrian authorities that it has been granted access to areas and people affected by the unrest in the Middle Eastern country.

"The Syrian officials were receptive, and agreed to give the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent wider access to areas of unrest," said ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger.

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Turkey, Israel in New Bid to Overcome Crisis

Israel and Turkey have been holding secret talks at several levels to end their diplomatic crisis, Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday, quoting a senior Israeli official.

The report, for which there was no confirmation, said an official representing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Feridun Sinirlioglu, undersecretary at the Turkish foreign ministry, were involved in the discussions.

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Miqati to Diplomats: Commitment to STL Should be Coupled with Preservation of Civil Peace

Prime Minister Najib Miqati has stressed to foreign diplomats that Lebanon would remain committed to international resolutions including the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

During separate meetings he held with Arab and Asian ambassadors, and U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly on Monday, Miqati said that Lebanon is committed to the tribunal that will try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s suspected assassins.

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U.N. General Assembly to Give Ban New Term as Leader

The U.N. General Assembly will on Tuesday elect South Korean Ban Ki-moon to a second term as U.N. leader after he was backed by all major powers.

Outspoken in faulting the leaders of Arab countries facing protests, but criticized himself by some human rights groups, the former South Korean foreign minister has been certain to win reelection for several months.

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U.N. Urges Governments to Keep Borders Open to Refugees

Governments around the world should keep their borders open to refugees, the head of the U.N. refugee agency said on Monday, as new data showed the number of refugees rising to its highest level in 50 years.

"My appeal to all states of the world is to keep the borders open to all those who seek protection," Antonio Guterres told reporters in Rome after touring the Italian island of Lampedusa along with U.S. actress Angelina Jolie.

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Assad Refuses to Reform Under 'Chaos', Says 'National Dialogue' Underway

President Bashar Assad said on Monday that dialogue could lead to a new constitution and even the end of his Baath party's monopoly on power but refused to reform Syria under "chaos."

After widespread condemnation of a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests, the country was at a "turning point," he said in a televised speech at Damascus University, vowing Syria would emerge stronger from the "plotting" against it.

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Clinton Says 'No Going Back' in Syria

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday urged a transition to democracy in Syria, saying in a commentary in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that the regime crackdown would not quell the momentum for change.

In an English translation provided by the State Department, Clinton wrote under the headline "There Is No Going Back in Syria" that it was "increasingly clear" the crackdown was an irreversible shift in the country's push towards reform.

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U.S. Weighs War Crimes Charges against Syria

The United States is studying whether war crimes charges can be brought against Syria to pressure its regime to end a bloody crackdown on dissent, a senior administration official said Friday.

The official said other measures, including sanctions targeting the country's oil and gas sector, were being considered as part of a broader diplomatic campaign to increase pressure on Syria's President Bashar Assad.

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U.N. Rights Council Passes 'Historic' Gay Rights Resolution

The U.N. Human Rights Council passed Friday a historic resolution that seeks equal rights for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, marking progress for gay rights despite strong Arab and African opposition.

The resolution was passed narrowly with 23 votes in favor, 19 against and three abstentions, after an emotional debate that saw African states accusing South Africa of breaking ranks with the region and siding with the West after it introduced the issue.

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