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Syria Contact Group Including Russia, U.S. to Meet in October

Russia and the United States are expected to take part in Syria peace talks in October, along with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, Russia's deputy foreign minister said Monday.

A meeting of an international contact group of the "most influential outside players" will "be pushed forward to October after the U.N. General Assembly," deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

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Australian Islamic State Fighters Doubled Last Year, Says FM

The number of Australians fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq doubled in the past year but was not expected to continue to grow so rapidly, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

Australia has been increasingly concerned about the ability of IS, also known as Daesh, to lure citizens to the conflict and at least 20 nationals are believed to have died there.

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Tax Cuts and Firebrand Diplomacy under President Trump

Republican firebrand Donald Trump has promised to scrap taxes for America's poorest and offer healthcare for all if elected president -- paid for by renegotiating the NAFTA accords and picking a trade fight with China.

The Republican presidential frontrunner and billionaire businessman promises to unveil Monday what the national economy would look like under a President Trump.

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Germany Calls for Syria Transitional Government

Germany on Sunday called for a transitional government in Syria in a bid to resolve the country's years-long civil war, as European governments increasingly soften their demands over President Bashar Assad's departure.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier mooted talks between regional actors, European countries, the United States and Russia "towards the foundation of a transitional government", which he said "would already be a lot".

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Putin: No Russian Ground Operations in Syria 'Right now'

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Moscow does not plan ground operations in Syria "right now" but will intensify its support for Bashar Assad.

The Russian leader was speaking on CBS news magazine "60 Minutes" on the eve of a much-anticipated speech to the U.N. General Assembly in which he is expected to defend the Syrian strongman.

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Hollande Announces October Visit to Lebanon, Expresses Sympathy over its Refugee Burden

French President Francois Hollande highlighted the “difficult” responsibilities Lebanon has to endure over the huge number of refugees it is harboring, reported the daily An Nahar on Monday.

He expressed his understanding over the burden it is supporting, revealing that he “will travel to Beirut in October.”

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Britain's Cameron Calls for Talks on Syria Transition

British Prime Minister David Cameron called for discussions on how to bring about political transition in Syria on Sunday as he prepares to meet world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Britain has stressed that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not necessarily have to go immediately as part of a peace deal.

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Rouhani Says 'Everyone Has Accepted' Assad Should Stay

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday he saw a widespread acceptance among major powers that Syrian leader Bashar Assad should stay in office.

"I think today everyone has accepted that President Assad must remain so that we can combat the terrorists," Rouhani told CNN.

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Israel Retaliates after Golan Rockets Fired from Syria

A rocket fired from war-torn Syria strayed into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights Sunday, prompting the Israeli army to respond after the second such incident in as many days.

The Israeli military said the rocket crashed into a field without causing any casualties or damage.

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IS Shuts Playgrounds in East Syria City

The extremist Islamic State group has closed playgrounds in a Syrian city because they were being used as a meeting place for unrelated men and women, a monitor said Sunday.

"IS has shut down playgrounds in the city of Mayadeen in the eastern Deir Ezzor province... under the pretext that there was mixing between men and women bringing their children to play," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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