Middle Orient

Shiites, Sunnis forge peace as Japanese hostage feared slain in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Two of Iraq’s most influential Shiite and Sunni organisations agreed Saturday to try and make peace as the government prepared to take its war against the insurgency to Baghdad’s violent streets. The new effort to ease sectarian tensions, which threaten to plunge Iraq into civil strife, came …

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Annan Calls for Further Progress in Implementing Kosovo Standards

In a new report on UNMIK submitted to the Security Council this week, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recommends that a comprehensive review of Kosovo’s progress in implementing a set of UN-set standards be initiated this summer. But further progress towards meeting the targets is an essential precondition for launching …

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Iraq unveiles Massive security offensive

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Iraq’s government will pour tens of thousands of Iraqi troops into Baghdad in an unprecedented operation to seal off the city and hunt insurgents who have launched a fresh wa ve of violence, ministers said on Thursday. Defence Minister Sadoun Dulaimi said 40,000 Iraqi troops would be …

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Keep talking with EU only buys time in nuke dispute

VIENNA (AP) — Europe’s success in cajoling Iran to stick with negotiations meant to reduce Tehran’s potential for nuclear mischief is only one skirmish won in a high stakes diplomatic battle. A decision Wednesday at a meeting of European foreign ministers and a top Iranian representative to keep talking defused …

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Reformers mull presidential bid or boycott

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran’s main reformist party was Thursday meeting to decide whether Mostafa Moin, its candidate who was given last-minute approval to stand in presidential elections next month, should go ahead and contest the polls. The fears are that even if Moin manages to pull off a surprise win …

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Conflicting statements on Zarqawi deputy

DUBAI (Reuters) — Conflicting statements about the leadership of Al Qaeda in Iraq appeared on the Internet on Thursday following reports that its chief, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, had been wounded. A statement in the name of Al Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq was posted on an Islamist …

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Money, vote-buying engines of polls

BEIRUT (AFP) — Money, vote-buying and vote-rigging, in parallel with links of clan and community structure, have always been the essential engines for success in Lebanese legislative elections. On the eve of Lebanon’s independence in 1943, “the partisans of presidential candidate Beshara al-Khoury, who was supported by Britain, were the …

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Donors pledge new aid to Darfur mission

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — International donors on Thursday pledged millions in further aid to an African Union (AU) peace mission in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region as the pan-African body announced peace talks between Khartoum and rebels will resume next month. Amid calls for renewed urgency in dealing with the …

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Australian Muslim leader offers Iraq hostage swap

CANBERRA (Reuters) — Australian Muslim leader Sheikh Taj Al Din Al Hilali has offered himself to Iraqi militants in exchange for the freedom of Australian hostage Douglas Wood. A video tape of Hilali’s offer to swap himself for Wood — a 63-year-old engineer held hostage for more than three weeks …

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Egypt backs election change as US blasts crackdown

CAIRO (AFP) — Eighty-three per cent of voters backed a law change allowing for Egypt’s first competitive presidential election, the government said Thursday, as the United States blasted police violence at pro-reform rallies. Interior Minister Habib Adli hailed the 53 per cent of the country’s 32.5 million voters who cast …

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