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Lavrov: We Disapprove EU Oil Embargo on Syria

Russia disapproves of the European Union oil embargo imposed on Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday, the Interfax news agency reported.

"We have always said that unilateral sanctions will do no good. This destroys a partnership approach to any crisis," Lavrov was quoted as telling journalists at a regional summit in Dushanbe.

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Ban: Improvement of Turkish-Israeli Ties Important for Peace Process

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Saturday said he sincerely hoped that Israel and Turkey could improve ties, saying both states were critical to improving stability in the Middle East.

"I sincerely hope that Israel and Turkey will improve their relationship," Ban told reporters in Canberra after Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador to Ankara and suspended all military ties with its one-time ally.

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U.N. Atomic Agency: Credible Evidence Iran Working on Nuke Weapons

The U.N. nuclear agency said Wednesday it is "increasingly concerned" about a stream of intelligence information suggesting that Iran continues to work secretly on developing a nuclear payload for a missile and other components of a nuclear weapons program.

In its report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said "many member states" are providing evidence for that assessment, describing the information it is receiving as credible, "extensive and comprehensive."

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Israel Will Not Apologize for Flotilla Raid

Israel will not apologize for its deadly 2010 raid on a Turkish-led flotilla of Gaza aid ships, an Israeli diplomatic source said Friday after a U.N. report accused the Jewish state of using excessive force.

"Israel once again expresses its regrets for the loss of human life but there will be no apology for this operation," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

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EU Tightens Screws on Syria

President Bashar Assad's regime faced fresh European Union sanctions targeting its oil exports Friday as ministers from the 27-nation bloc gathered in Poland to discuss the turmoil in Syria.

The sanctions "will go straight to the heart of the regime", said Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal.

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14 Killed in Syria Demonstrations

Fourteen people were killed on Friday in demonstrations in several Syrian cities that took place under the banner of “Death Rather than Humiliation.”

Local Coordination Committees (LCC) announced via internet sites that seven people were shot dead by Syrian security forces in the region of Reef Damascus and three were killed in the province of Deir al-Zour.

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Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador over Gaza Flotilla

Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador to Ankara on Friday and suspended all military ties with its one-time ally after a U.N. report condemned excessive force used by Israel on a Gaza aid flotilla.

"At this point the measures we are taking are: The relations between Turkey and Israel will be downgraded to second secretary level. All officials over the level of second secretary, primarily the ambassador, will turn back to their country at the latest on Wednesday," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a press conference.

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Bahrain Denies Shiite Teenager Shot Dead by Police

Bahrain's interior ministry on Friday denied reports that police shot dead a Shiite teenager taking part in a protest two days ago and offered a $26,500 reward for information about his killers.

"The ministry expresses regret over various statements issued by certain political and human rights organizations" claiming that Ali Jawad Ahmed al-Sheikh's death "resulted from a police tear gas projectile shot at his face."

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Israelis Call for 'Demo of One Million'

Israeli activists have called for a "demonstration of one million" people as part of their ongoing protest movement against rising costs of living in the Jewish state, organizers said Friday.

It will be held Saturday evening across Israel, the organizers said.

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Official: Israel to Accept U.N. Flotilla Report with 'Reservations'

Israel will accept the United Nations report on its deadly attack last year on a Turkish-led flotilla of aid boats for the Gaza Strip with some reservations, a senior official said Friday.

"We will announce our acceptance of the report after its official publication, with specific reservations," the official who declined to be identified told Agence France Presse.

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