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Russian Envoy Will Attend 'Friends of Libya' Meeting

The envoy of President Dmitry Medvedev for Africa will attend this week's conference for "Friends of Libya" in Paris, reports said Wednesday, in the first indication Russia will be represented.

"Mikhail Margelov is going to Paris for the meeting after receiving an invitation," a source in the Russian foreign ministry told Interfax.

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Libya Rebels Say have 'Right to Kill' Gadhafi

Libya's rebels said Wednesday Moammar Gadhafi is almost certainly in Libya and that they have a "right to kill" him, while giving the fugitive strongman's remaining troops until Saturday to surrender.

"The information I have is this: it is 80 percent certain that Gadhafi is still in Libya," Omar Hariri, head of military affairs, told Agence France Presse in Tripoli.

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Israel Says Palestinian U.N. Bid Greater Threat than Hamas

The Palestinian campaign to secure full U.N. membership presents a greater threat to Israel than that posed by Hamas, the Israeli finance minister said on Wednesday.

"This Palestinian initiative represents a more serious threat than that posed by Hamas," Yuval Steinitz told Israel's public radio, referring to Gaza's Islamist rulers whose founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

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U.S.: Syria Video of U.S. Envoy is 'Feeble' Distraction Bid

The United States said Tuesday that "pro-government thugs" in Syria made a "feeble attempt" to draw world attention away from protests when they filmed the U.S. ambassador observing a sit-in.

A video posted Monday by the U.S. blog The Cable shows Ambassador Robert Ford being harassed by a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad's regime who tried to wrap him in a poster of the Syrian leader.

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Israel Deploys Missile Boats as Iran Dispatches Fleet to Red Sea

Iran has dispatched a submarine and a warship to the Red Sea on a patrol mission, navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in a report by state media on Tuesday.

"This flotilla which is comprised of a submarine and a warship will patrol the high seas and display the capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Sayyari, quoted by the state television website.

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Bahrain's Wefaq Demands Courts Close, Slams Attack

Bahrain's main Shiite opposition party, al-Wefaq, on Tuesday demanded the closure of military courts set up during a protest crackdown and condemned an attack on the home of its leader.

In a statement received by Agence France Presse, Wefaq demanded the "closure of military tribunals and the repeal of all their verdicts, the release of all political prisoners and the start of real political reforms" in the Gulf kingdom.

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Army Trains Jewish Settlers Ahead of Palestinian U.N. Bid

The Israeli army is training Jewish settlers in the West Bank to repel any violent protests in the territories when the Palestinians try to secure U.N. membership next month, the military said.

Asked to confirm a report in Haaretz newspaper, the army issued a written statement saying it was in the process of training settlement response teams, "to deal with any possible scenario."

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Maliki Says U.S. Iraq Pull-Out to Proceed as Scheduled

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said U.S. forces will leave Iraq as scheduled by year's end, and that there will not be any permanent U.S. bases in the country, a statement from his office said on Tuesday.

"The agreement on the withdrawal of American forces will be implemented on schedule by the end of the year, and there will not be any bases for U.S. forces here," Maliki told Al-Ittijah TV channel in an interview to be broadcast later, it said.

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Yemen Defense Minister Escapes Blast

Yemen's defense minister escaped unharmed when a bomb went off Tuesday in a village in southern Abyan province, an al-Qaida stronghold, a military official said.

"Two soldiers were killed and two others wounded in the explosion of the device in a convoy of the defense minister (Mohammed Nasser Ahmed Ali) near al-Kud," a village the army recaptured from al-Qaida two days ago, the official said.

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U.S. Blacklists Muallem, Shaaban, Syrian Envoy to Lebanon

The U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Syria's foreign minister and two other top officials Tuesday, adding new pressure on the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Asset freezes and bans on business interactions were imposed on Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, top presidential advisor Buthaina Shaaban, and Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali, the Treasury said.

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