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UN, EU Appeal for Immediate Release of Estonians, Say Abduction a Threat to Lebanon’s Standing in the World

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union, Angelina Eichhorst, and U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams made a joint appeal on Monday for the immediate and urgent release of the seven Estonian tourists.

“We appeal for the immediate release of the seven abducted Estonian nationals. These bicyclists came to Lebanon as tourists, with no ill intent. No purpose whatsoever is served by their continued detention,” said Eichhorst and Williams.

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UNHCR: 1,400 Fled to Lebanon to Escape Syrian Unrest in Week

Some 1,400 Syrians, many of them women and children without belongings, crossed the border with Lebanon last week to join many more who have fled the unrest at home, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

"Most of the people who have crossed the border in recent weeks are women and children. In addition to their immediate need for food, shelter and medical help, they also need psycho-social support," UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

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Syria Says Obama’s Speech Offered 'Nothing New'

A keynote speech by President Barack Obama on U.S. Middle East policy offered nothing new but simply reaffirmed Washington's staunch support for Israel, Syria's official SANA news agency said on Friday.

"The U.S. president's speech on the Middle East had nothing new as far as his country's policies on the peace process, the situation in Iraq or security or regional stability are concerned," the news agency said.

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Syria Slams U.S. Sanctions on Assad amid Calls for Friday Protests

Syria denounced Thursday U.S. sanctions imposed on President Bashar al-Assad and top aides, saying they were part of long-time efforts by Washington to impose its will in the region to Israel's benefit.

The Syrian Revolution 2011, a Facebook group spurring anti-regime protests, meanwhile called for fresh demonstrations on Friday for "liberty and national unity."

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U.N. Raises Libya Aid Appeal to $407.8 Million

The United Nations on Wednesday raised its aid funding appeal to $407.8 million from $310 million to help over two million people affected by the Libyan conflict.

The sum would extend aid to September 2011, and would help 1.6 million people within Libya, as well as 500,000 others who have fled the country.

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Berri Meets Asarta: Israel’s Massacre in the South Major Violation of Resolution 1701

Speaker Nabih Berri described on Tuesday the clashes at Maroun al-Ras as an “Israeli massacre in the South.”

He said after holding talks with United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon Commander General Alberto Asarta: “The massacre is a major violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 and a threat to the security and stability of the region.”

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Aoun: Miqati Unaware of Rules of Government Formation Process

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun stated on Tuesday that no new developments have taken place in the government formation process.

He said after the movement’s weekly meeting: “There is no desire to form a government or an initiative to facilitate its establishment.”

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Russia Tells Gadhafi Envoys to Obey U.N. Resolution

Russia on Tuesday hosted an envoy of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, telling Tripoli to obey a U.N. resolution on Libya as Moscow seeks to position itself as a mediator in the conflict.

The visit to Moscow by Mouhammad Ahmed al-Sharif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society, the Libya-based group founded by Gadhafi, comes as Russia is also preparing to hold talks with rebels fighting the regime.

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Williams Shocked by Number of Deaths, Use of Disproportionate Force by Israel in Maroun al-Ras

United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams has expressed “shock” at the number of deaths in the border town of Maroun al-Ras when Israeli forces opened fire on demonstrators on Nakba Day on Sunday.

“I am shocked by the number of the deaths and the use of disproportionate, deadly force by the Israeli Defense Forces against apparently unarmed demonstrators,” Williams said Monday after holding talks with Premier-designate Najib Miqati.

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World Court Prosecutor Seeks Gadhafi Arrest Warrant

The U.N. war crimes court's chief prosecutor said Monday he would seek arrest warrants against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence head for crimes against humanity.

"Today, the office of the prosecutor requested the International Criminal Court (issue) arrest warrants," Luis Moreno-Ocampo said at a press conference in The Hague, where the International Criminal Court is based.

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