United Arab Emirates
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UAE Releases Sisters Held over Tweets

Three sisters detained for the past three months in the United Arab Emirates after campaigning on Twitter on behalf of their jailed brother were released on Friday, Amnesty International said.

Asma Khalifa al-Suwaidi, Mariam Khalifa al-Suwaidi and Alyaziyah Khalifa al-Suwaidi "were reunited with their family today after spending three months in secret detention", the rights watchdog said.

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Obama Offers Gulf Allies 'Ironclad' Security Pledge

President Barack Obama tried to reassure America's Gulf allies Thursday that engaging with Iran would not come at their expense, at a Camp David summit that proved short on concrete outcomes.

Pledging to counter external threats to Gulf states amid Iran's growing role in the region, Obama said his security commitment to the decades-old allies was "ironclad."  

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Iranian Boats Fire Warning Shots at Singapore-Flagged Ship

Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces fired warning shots at a Singapore-flagged commercial ship in the Gulf on Thursday, before vessels from the United Arab Emirates came to the ship's aid, U.S. officials said.

The incident reflects rising tensions in the Gulf, fueled in part by the conflict in Yemen that pits Iranian-backed Shiite rebels against pro-government forces supported by a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states.

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UAE Etihad Flight Diverted over Security Alert

An Etihad Airways flight traveling from Cairo to Abu Dhabi was diverted Sunday to a military base in the United Arab Emirates due to a false security alert, the carrier said.

Flight EY650 landed at al-Minhad airbase in Dubai "due to a security alert," the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said in a statement, adding that the plane was searched "but nothing of a suspicious nature was found."

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Kerry Attempts to Reassure Gulf Ministers in Paris Meeting

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Gulf foreign ministers in Paris on Friday ahead of a summit in which President Barack Obama will seek to reassure the Arab monarchies over his Iran policy.

Fresh from a trip to Riyadh where he urged a ceasefire in Yemen, Kerry met foreign ministers from the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

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UAE Says on Track to Send Probe to Mars in 2021

Oil-rich United Arab Emirates said Wednesday it was pressing ahead with plans to send the first Arab unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, naming it "Hope".

The probe will leave Earth in 2020 on a mission "designed to complement the science work of other missions and fill important gaps in human knowledge," the Gulf state said in a statement.

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Reports: Indonesia to Stop Sending Domestic Workers to Lebanon

Indonesia will stop sending new domestic workers to 21 Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, reports said Tuesday, after the recent execution of two Indonesian women in Saudi Arabia angered Jakarta.

Other countries affected by the ban are Saudi Arabia -- a major destination for Indonesian maids -- United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Egypt.

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U.S. Defends Cluster Bomb Transfers after HRW Report on Yemen

The United States defended its supplies of cluster munitions Sunday, pointing to restrictions on the transfers, after Human Rights Watch said the bombs had been used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

HRW said it had gathered photographs, video and other evidence indicating that cluster munitions had been used in coalition air strikes against the Huthi rebel stronghold of Saada province in Yemen's northern mountains in recent weeks.

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HRW: Saudi-Led Coalition Using Cluster Bombs in Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition has been using U.S.-supplied cluster bombs in its air campaign against Yemeni rebels, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday, warning of the long-term dangers to civilians.

The widely banned munitions contain dozens of submunitions, which sometimes do not explode, becoming de facto landmines that can kill or maim long after they were dropped.

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Gulf States Insist on Saudi Venue for Yemen Talks

The Gulf Cooperation Council insisted Thursday that talks on ending Yemen's conflict be brokered by the regional body and held in Riyadh rather than a neutral venue as sought by Iran.

Tehran has called for the U.N. talks between Yemen's political factions to be held somewhere other than in any of the countries taking part in a Saudi-led military campaign against Shiite rebels.

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