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U.S. Defense Chief Carter in Iraq for Talks on War against IS

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter flew to Baghdad Thursday for talks on Iraq's war against the Islamic State group, whose "caliphate" is shrinking but is ramping up deadly car bombings.

Carter was to meet Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Sunni Arab tribal leaders from Anbar, the province where much of the fighting has taken place in recent weeks.

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French Foreign Minister Says will Visit Iran 'Next Week'

France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday he would visit Iran "next week", after the historic deal on its nuclear program.

Although Fabius did not provide more precise details, his aides told Agence France Presse that the trip would likely take place next Wednesday.

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Geagea Blames Iran for Baabda Vacuum

Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, a candidate for the country's top Christian post, has accused Iran of causing Lebanon's presidential deadlock.

“Iran is responsible for the obstruction of the presidential elections in Lebanon,” Geagea told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published on Tuesday.

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Berri Says Lebanese 'Useless' in Finding Solution to Presidential Crisis

Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed regret that Lebanese officials failed to resolve the presidential crisis without the mediation of countries that have influence on Lebanon.

“We the Lebanese are useless,” Berri told al-Mustaqbal daily in remarks published on Thursday.

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Lebanese Officials Have Mixed Reactions to Nuclear Deal

Lebanese politicians had on Wednesday mixed reactions to a historic accord struck a day earlier by Iran, the United States, and five other world powers to check Tehran's nuclear efforts short of building a bomb.

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun said the deal could have a positive impact on Lebanon's presidential elections. But stressed that granting Christians their rights cannot be influenced by any change in the world.

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Mother of Washington Post Reporter Speaks of Bail Hope

The mother of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, on trial in Iran for espionage, told reporters outside a Tehran court Monday that she hopes he will be freed on bail.

Rezaian, the newspaper's Tehran Correspondent, was detained in the capital almost one year ago in a case that has paralleled with Iran's nuclear talks with world powers led by the United States.

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Diplomats Say Provisional Iran Nuke Deal Likely Ready Sunday as U.S. Says 'Major Issues' Remain

Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks are expected to reach a provisional agreement Sunday on a historic deal that would curb the country's atomic program in return for sanctions relief, diplomats said.

Two diplomats at the talks told The Associated Press the envisioned accord will be sent to capitals for review and, barring last-minute objections, be announced on Monday.

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Iranians Call for 'Good Nuclear Deal' at Tehran Demo

A small crowd demonstrated in Tehran on Tuesday, chanting they wanted a "good nuclear deal" with world powers and unveiling what they said were millions of signatures urging that outcome.

The peaceful gathering numbered around 200 men and women and participants said their aim was to support Iran's negotiating team in Vienna.

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Hollande's Envoy in Beirut Soon over Presidential Crisis

French President Francois Hollande's envoy is expected to visit Beirut in the coming weeks in an effort to revive France's efforts to resolve the Lebanese presidential deadlock.

An Nahar daily on Thursday quoted ministerial sources as saying that the Director of the Department of the Middle East and North Africa at the French Foreign Ministry, Jean-François Girault, will visit Beirut at the end of the month or in early July.

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Pentagon: U.S., Shiite Fighters not Working Together at Iraq Base

The Pentagon said Tuesday that there are some Shiite fighters at an Iraqi military base where Washington just sent 450 reinforcements, but they were not working with U.S. forces, underscoring concerns over links with the sectarian fighters.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said that while there is a "small group" of Shiite fighters at the Taqaddum base, there numbered only in the lower double digits, did not form full units and did not interact with U.S. forces. 

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