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Report: Hariri to Make Series of Stances during Iftars in BIEL

Former Premier Saad Hariri is expected to return to Beirut from France next week to attend Iftar banquets, sources close to the Mustaqbal movement leader told An Nahar daily Monday.

Hariri “will return to Lebanon in the first days of the month of Ramadan early August to be present in a series of Iftars held at the BIEL exhibition center rather than Qoreitem where Iftars were held in previous years,” the sources said.

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Erdogan: No Normalization Unless Israel Apologizes over Flotilla Raid

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday it was "unthinkable" for Ankara to normalize relations with Israel until it apologized over its bloody raid on a Turkish ship heading for Gaza.

"As long as Israel does not apologies to Turkey, pay compensation to the families of the victims and lift its blockage on the Gaza strip, a normalization of relations is unthinkable," he said at the opening of a meeting of Palestinian ambassadors in Istanbul in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Israel Refuses to Apologies to Turkey over Flotilla

Israel will not "take responsibility" for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals by apologizing to Ankara over its botched 2010 raid on a ferry heading for Gaza, a senior cabinet minister said Thursday.

"We are not ready to apologize as apologizing is taking responsibility," Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Jerusalem.

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Turkish PM Wishes to Visit Gaza

Turkey's prime minister said on Tuesday he was considering visiting the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a move likely to anger Israel amid diplomatic efforts to overcome already strained bilateral ties.

"If the conditions allow, I'm thinking of visiting Gaza," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters. "The foreign ministry will be working on it. I wish to make such a visit, depending on the outcome."

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Israel Likely to Apologize to Turkey over Flotilla Raid

Israel will probably soon apologize to Turkey for a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which left nine Turkish activists dead, a senior Turkish diplomat said Tuesday.

"I would be surprised if there were no apologies since both sides have the political will to resolve this crisis," said ambassador Ozdem Sanberk, a member of the U.N. panel probing the Israeli raid.

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Haaretz: Israeli Defense Ministry Mulling to Apologize from Turkey over Flotilla Raid

Israel's defense establishment wants to see ties with Turkey repaired, even supporting an apology to Ankara for a bloody 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Israel's Haaretz daily reported Sunday.

Relations between the former allies have been in tatters since the military operation, in which nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided a flotilla trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

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U.S. Urges Cyprus Solution 'As Soon As Possible'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Saturday for a speedy solution to Cyprus' long-standing division.

"We don't think the status quo in Cyprus benefits anyone," Clinton said at a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul.

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Contact Group Recognizes Libya Rebels as 'Legitimate Governmental Authority'

The Libya contact group recognized Friday the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country's "legitimate governmental authority," according to a statement seen by Agence France Presse.

The group of major Western and regional powers also urged "all relevant parties" to make efforts "for the formation of an interim government to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power," said the statement, to be formally issued at the end of a meeting in Istanbul later Friday.

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Russia: Gadhafi has 'Suicide Plan' to Blow Up Capital

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has a "suicidal plan" to blow up the capital Tripoli if it is taken by rebels, the Kremlin's special envoy to Libya told a Russian newspaper Thursday.

"The Libyan premier told me: if the rebels seize the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up," Kremlin envoy Mikhail Margelov said in an interview with the the Izvestia daily.

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Turkey's PM Announces New Cabinet

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday unveiled Turkey's new cabinet after his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a third straight term in power in the June 12 elections.

Apart from Erdogan, the line-up included 25 ministers, both outgoing cabinet members and newcomers.

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