Middle Orient

Iran seeks ‘positive’ talks with EU at nuclear meeting

TEHRAN (AP) — Iran wants this week’s talks with the European Union over its nuclear programme to be “positive,” but the almost four-month break in negotiations means the results are uncertain, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said Monday. Arab Gulf leaders also called for a weapons of mass destruction-free Mideast and …

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GCC urges nuke-free Mideast

ABU DHABI (AFP) — The Middle East should be turned into a nuclear-free region, leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council said Monday, voicing concern over Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The heads of the oil-rich six-member bloc “appealed to the international community to make the Middle East, including the Gulf …

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Bush urges leaders to speed new gov’t

WASHINGTON (AFP) — President George W. Bush urged Iraqi leaders Monday to speed the formation of a new government and maintain political momentum, which he needs to reignite US support for the unpopular war. At a White House news conference, Bush pressed the appeal he made in a televised address …

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Iraqi Shiites eye new majority as results come in

BAGHDAD (AP) — About 24 top former officials in Saddam Hussein’s government — including a biological weapons expert known as “Dr Germ” — have been released from jail, a legal official in Baghdad said on Monday. Partial results from last week’s parliamentary elections showed Shiite and Kurdish parties dominating in …

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Syria denies UN charge of slow cooperation

DAMASCUS (Reuters) — Syria on Tuesday rebuffed UN accusations that it was hampering an inquiry into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and complained of violations in the questioning of five officials. “We disagree with the inaccurate remarks in the [UN] report that indicate slowness on the …

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Lebanon pays last farewell to slain MP

BEIRUT (AFP) — Lebanon buried Wednesday slain anti-Syrian MP and press magnate Gibran Tueni, amid angry calls for a regime change in Damascus and efforts by the Arab League to defuse tension between the two neighbours. The international community also stepped up pressure on Damascus to comply unconditionally with a …

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Sistani plays major role, but from sidelines

BAGHDAD — There is an Arabic phrase that aptly describes Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani’s role in this week’s elections: “Absent yet present.” Sistani, who wields vast influence among Iraq’s majority Shiites, has not publicly endorsed any candidates. But there’s little doubt of his choices — and why.

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Ahmadinejad says Holocaust ‘myth’

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh attack against Israel on Wednesday, dismissing the Holocaust as a “myth” and saying the Jewish state should be moved as far away as Alaska. And with just a week to go before scheduled talks with the European Union — which …

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Lebanon shows cracks under weight of killings

BEIRUT — It has become all too familiar in Lebanon. An anti-Syrian politician or journalist is killed, condemnations pour in from friends and foes alike, the funeral attracts thousands, while officials urge unity. Yet the longer a UN inquiry into the murder of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri drags on, the …

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Iraq locks down for elections

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Quiet fell across most of Iraq on Wednesday on the eve of its parliamentary elections, with a stringent security lockdown preventing all but sporadic violence. A traffic ban was in force for three days, borders were sealed and shops and businesses closed. Most Iraqis stayed at home …

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