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  • Israeli, Turkish leaders laud deal to restore ties 

    In May 2010, ten Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara ship which was part of the Free Gaza flotillaPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Israel's maritime blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip would remain after the agreement, though Turkey obtained aid concessions for the Palestinian enclave. Yildirim also noted Israel's commitment to pay $20 million in compensation over the 2010 raid that killed 10 Turkish activists, in exchange for all claims against Israeli soldiers being dropped. Netanyahu pointed to the economic benefits for Israel, with his country in search of regional customers for gas exports and talk of a potential pipeline to Turkey.

  • Kremlin says Turkey apologized for shooting down Russian jet 

    Russia's President Putin meets United Russia party members in MoscowBy Jack Stubbs and Dmitry Solovyov MOSCOW (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has apologized to Russian leader Vladimir Putin over last year's shooting down of a Russian air force jet by Turkey's military, the Kremlin said on Monday, opening the way for Russia to lift economic sanctions. The Russian jet was shot down, with the loss of the pilot, in November while it took part in the Kremlin's military campaign in Syria. "I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who died and I say: 'I'm sorry,'" the Kremlin, in a statement, cited Erdogan as saying in the letter.

  • Egypt bars female activist from traveling to rights meeting CAIRO (AP) — Egypt has banned a prominent female activist from travelling to a human rights meeting in Beirut, the latest step in a crackdown on free speech and dissent.
  • LGBT rights groups call on Orthodox Church to embrace gays 

    Men cover their faces with rainbow flags during a gay pride parade in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, June 25, 2016. During the years of communist rule, before 1989, homosexuality was a crime, and it is still not widely accepted among many Romanian people, with many gays avoiding to disclose their sexual orientation to avoid discrimination. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Two gay rights' groups have called on the Orthodox Church to open up "safe spaces for dialogue and reconciliation" within the church for gays.

  • Netanyahu: Deal with Turkey promotes 'stability' in Mideast 

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, left, during their meeting at Villa Taverna, U.S. Embassy, in Rome, Italy, Monday, June 27, 2016. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA pool via AP)ROME (AP) — Israel and Turkey on Monday announced a reconciliation deal to end a bitter six-year rift between the Mideast powers.

  • Israel's Netanyahu announces reconciliation deal with Turkey, says it'll help bring 'stability' to turbulent Middle East ROME (AP) — Israel's Netanyahu announces reconciliation deal with Turkey, says it'll help bring 'stability' to turbulent Middle East.
  • Ban tells Israelis, Palestinians: 'stand firm against violence' 

    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (right) and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon address the press in Jerusalem on June 27, 2016UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged Israelis and Palestinians not to allow extremists on either side to fan violence, as he arrived as part of a Middle East tour. "Do not allow the extremism on either side to fuel the... conflict," he said in remarks at Tel Aviv University. Ban continued the theme at a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

  • Pope defends Armenia 'genocide' comment; no offense meant 

    Pope Francis, right, participates in the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Catholicos Karekin II, left, at the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in Etchmiadzin, Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, June 26, 2016. Francis called Sunday for closer ties with Armenia's Orthodox church as he wrapped up his three-day visit with a liturgy and visit to the country's closed border with Turkey amid new tensions with Ankara over his recognition of the 1915 "genocide." (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis defended using the term "genocide" to describe the Ottoman-era slaughter of Armenians, saying Sunday that's how he has always referred to the massacre, he didn't mean anything offensive by it and that it would have been "very strange" to have avoided it.

  • Turkish police fire tear gas in Istanbul to disperse Gay Pride activists 

    Riot police use rubber pellets to disperse LGBT rights activists as they try to gather for a pride parade, which was banned by the governorship, in IstanbulBy Nick Tattersall ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police detained 19 people and fired tear gas in central Istanbul on Sunday to disperse dozens of activists attempting to gather to mark the annual Gay Pride week after authorities banned their march. A German lawmaker and a member of the European Parliament were also briefly detained while police chased activists into side streets and blocked them from gathering and reading out a statement, saying it was banned. Organizers called off the annual Gay Pride march, carried out largely peacefully since 2003, after authorities did not allow the event to go ahead but deployed hundreds of riot police near the main Taksim square.

  • Orthodox chiefs warn over Middle East, science dangers 

    Religious Orthodox Christians leaders pray inside a church in Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete on June 19, 2016Orthodox church leaders from around the world on Sunday called for the protection of religious minorities in the war-torn Middle East at a rare global meeting that also warned against the "moral dilemmas" of rapid scientific progress. "The Orthodox Church is particularly concerned about the situation facing Christians, and other persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East," the church leaders said in a circular concluding the first such gathering in a millennium.

  • Mideast indexes drop in first day of trading post-Brexit 

    Clouds gather above the Houses of Parliament on the banks of the river Thames following yesterday's EU referendum result, London, Saturday, June 25, 2016. Britain voted to leave the European Union after a bitterly divisive referendum campaign. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Stocks tumbled in the Middle East on Sunday, the first day of trading since Britain voted to leave the European Union, following other market drops in the U.S. and worldwide.

  • Vatican names Italian as acting Latin Patriarch JERUSALEM (AP) — The Vatican has put its longtime protector of Church holy sites in the Middle East in charge of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem — a sensitive position that serves as the chief clergyman to the local Catholic population.
  • Kerry urges Britain, EU to manage their divorce responsibly 

    A crow flies by EU flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels on Friday, June 24, 2016. Top European Union officials were hunkering down in Brussels Friday to try to work out what to do next after the shock decision by British voters to leave the 28-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)ROME (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Britain and the European Union to manage their divorce responsibly for the sake of global markets and citizens, a day before he was to become the first senior American official to visit London and Brussels since the United Kingdom's historic referendum.

  • AP PHOTOS: Iraqi special forces share treasured possessions 

    In this Wednesday, June 8, 2016 photo, 1st Sgt. Malik Jaber, from Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces wears green cloth from the revered Imam Abbas shrine on his body armor, at a front line position on the southern edge of Fallujah, Iraq. He says he credits the holy object with saving his life when the Special Forces were fighting Islamic State militants in Beiji, the central Iraqi town that is also home to a key oil refinery. “This time it will keep me safe again,” Jaber said, “God willing.” A senior Iraqi commander declared that the city of Fallujah was "fully liberated" from Islamic State group militants on Sunday, June 26, 2016 after a more than monthlong military operation. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) — Sgt. Ahmed Abdelaziz, with Iraq's special forces, has been almost continually deployed fighting the Islamic State group ever since the militants overran nearly a third of Iraq in the summer of 2014. Now he's on the front lines of Fallujah, a city declared "fully liberated" on Sunday by the commander leading the fight against IS. Abdelaziz has with him what he always brings into battle: a photo of his brother.

  • Britain's EU workers gripped by fear, confusion, heartache 

    In this photo taken on Friday, June 24, 2016, Gabriel Ionut, a 24-year-old Romanian who works as a traffic marshal, stands by a signal at a construction site in London. Ionut is in the minority of the hundreds of thousands of foreign European workers who welcomed the British decision to leave the European Union as the majority of them are struggling with uncertainty about their future in Britain. (AP Photo, Pawel Kuczynski)LONDON (AP) — A tsunami of uncertainty has engulfed Anna Woydyla, a Polish restaurant worker in London, since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

  • Frugal Ramadan for cash-strapped Damascenes 

    Syrian Rida Saleh (R) and his family, who fled rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, break their fast in their cramped apartment in the government controlled area of the capital Damascus on June 13, 2016This Ramadan, a radio station in Syria's capital Damascus presented cash-strapped listeners with a challenge: plan a meal to break the fast for just $3. Diala Hasan's cooking show on Sham FM used to feature recipes for sumptuous Ramadan feasts. "We decided to make a programme that demonstrates thrifty recipes costing 1,500 Syrian pounds ($3) to match peoples' incomes," Hasan, 26, told AFP as she prepared to record the show at a studio in Damascus.

  • Kerry flies to Rome for Netanyahu meeting 

    Some reports have suggested Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured here on June 20, 2016, will use the meeting to assess the possibility of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace processUS Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington on Saturday to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the publication of an international report expected to criticize Israeli settlement building. Some reports have suggested he will use the meeting to assess the possibility of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. This diplomatic group -- the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia -- is concerned that Palestinian violence and Israel's building on occupied land is pushing the prospect of peace further away.

  • Could Brexit help migrants get to Britain? Not so fast 

    Migrants walk past a flag of England inside the "Jungle" camp for migrants and refugees in Calais on June 24, 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European UnionHopes that Brexit could provide a ticket to Britain for thousands of migrants languishing in squalid conditions in northern France are illusory, the French government says. The president of France's North region, Xavier Bertrand, was among several politicians who challenged a bilateral accord that is at the root of the migrants' plight within hours of Britain's vote to leave the EU. The so-called Le Touquet accord, reached in 2003, effectively moved Britain's border with France to the French side of the Channel, where migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia are massed.

  • France fears Brexit consequences for EU defense capability France fears Britain may downsize its military ambitions once outside the European Union, leaving its neighbor to a role as the only significant power in the region, according to French defense ministry sources. Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian published a column on Wednesday in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper in which he urged Britons to vote to remain in the EU, stressing the importance of Britain's defense relationship with its European partners as the west battles jihadi groups in the Middle East and Africa. Speaking after Thursday's vote to leave, the sources said France still hoped that relationship could continue in some form.
  • Brexit vote a victory for populist politics 

    Two people hold an European Union and the castle of Hardelot, the cultural center of the Entente Cordiale (the colonial-era promise of cross-channel friendship between Britain and France)in Neufchatel-Hardelot, northern FranceBritish voters' decision to leave the European Union highlighted working class dissatisfaction with the UK and Europe's ruling elite and the mass appeal of populist politics. Farage, who posed next to an anti-migrant poster emblazoned with the words "Breaking Point" during the Brexit campaign, dedicated the "Out" vote to people who have "had enough of the merchant bankers". Donald Trump's tell-it-like-it-is bluntness and disdain for both political correctness and Washington insiders has struck a chord among increasingly frustrated white working class and middle class voters in the United States.

  • Pope denounces 'genocide' in Armenia visit 

    Pope Francis gives a speech as he visits the Apostolic Cathedral in Etchmiadzin, outside Yerevan, on June 24, 2016Pope Francis began his three-day visit to Armenia on Friday with a denunciation of the mass killing of Armenians a century ago by Ottoman forces as "genocide", risking Turkey's fury. The pontiff -- who is making his 14th overseas trip since he was elected in 2013 -- invoked a term Turkish authorities have vehemently rejected during a meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. "Sadly this tragedy, this genocide, was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century," Francis said at the presidential palace in Yerevan.

  • Nepali migrants banned from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nepal has banned its nationals from working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria after 13 Nepali security guards were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in the Afghan capital earlier this week, Labour Minister Deepak Bohara said on Friday. "Our decision is prompted by the security situation in those countries," Bohara told Thomson Reuters Foundation. "If our nationals already working in those countries want to return home, the government will make arrangements for that." Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries.
  • Israeli troops say kill Palestinian attacker in West Bank 

    Israeli security forces gather at the scene where a female Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops at the entrance to Kiryat Arba near HebronIsraeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian woman who rammed a vehicle into a parked car near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank on Friday, injuring two people sitting inside, the army said. Palestinian officials had no immediate comment. Israeli forces have shot dead at least 198 Palestinians, 135 of whom Israel has said were assailants.

  • Pope visits Armenia with Mideast peace message 

    Francis is the second pope to visit Armenia since it re-emerged as an independent state from the ashes of the Soviet UnionPope Francis began a three-day visit to Armenia on Friday, just over a year after he enraged Turkey by using the term genocide to describe the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. The pontiff's 14th overseas trip since his 2013 election is expected to see him highlight Vatican concern over instability, conflict and the plight of Christians in the war-torn Middle East, which has seen Armenia take in many refugees. On his way to Yerevan, Francis told reporters that Britain's decision to exit the European Union means Europe must bear "great responsibility" to ensure the well-being of its population.

  • Developing countries fuel west Africa as cocaine hub 

    Seizures on the Atlantic island of Cape Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous periodDeveloping markets are fuelling an increase in cocaine trafficking through west Africa, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Thursday in a new report. Seizures on the Atlantic island of Cape Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous period, UNODC regional representative Pierre Lapaque said at the report's launch in Dakar. "Cocaine trafficking through Africa seems to be growing again and we have evidence of increasing trafficking to Asia and the Middle East," Lapaque said.

  • Boeing's historic deal with Iran rests on shaky foundations 

    FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2016 file photo, an Iranian Mahan Air passenger plane takes off as a plane of Iran's national air carrier, Iran Air, is parked at left, at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran. Boeing Co. said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Iran Air "expressing the airline's intent" to buy its aircraft, setting up the biggest business deal between the Islamic Republic and America since the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran. Boeing Co.’s historic deal with Iran Air rests on shaky foundations, with potentially $25 billion riding on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline’s planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing Co.'s historic $25 billion deal with Iran Air potentially rides on hopes that Tehran would stop its past practice of using the airline's planes to ferry fighters and weapons across the Middle East.

  • Iraqi forces focus on militants in north and west Fallujah 

    In this Wednesday, June 22, 2016 photo, Iraqi soldiers enter the main hospital in Fallujah, Iraq. On the northwestern edge of Fallujah, Iraqi commanders are preparing for one of their toughest battles yet, despite declaring victory in the city west of Baghdad last week.(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi commanders are preparing to dislodge Islamic State group fighters from pockets of territory in Fallujah's northern and western neighborhoods where the militants have dug in after largely fleeing their positions in the city center last week.

  • Interpol seeks public help to catch human traffickers 

    Libyan coastguard escorts illegal migrants after their boat started to sink off the coastal town of Garabulli in 2014Interpol called Thursday for public help to track down scores of human traffickers wanted around the world, accused of "profiting from the desperation" of migrants determined to reach Europe. "People smuggling is a global issue, which is why international cooperation through operations such as Hydra are essential," Interpol's director of operational support Michael O'Connell said in a statement. The operation, known as Infra Hydra, involves 44 countries as well as the EU police agency Europol.

  • Egypt gets its first French Mistral-class helicopter carrier CAIRO (AP) — Egypt has received the first of two French-made, Mistral-class helicopter carriers purchased last year in an effort to upgrade its navy.
  • Turkey in new quest to patch up with regional foes 

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, pictured together in Moscow in September 2015Reaching out to Russia and working to normalise ties with Israel, Turkey is moving to mend fences and restore its waning regional clout by returning to a policy known as "zero problems with neighbours". Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hinted at a new approach after he took over in May from Ahmet Davutoglu, a former academic who masterminded an aggressive foreign policy that some analysts fear brought Turkey more problems than profit. Davutoglu left office with Turkey in the throes of an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with Russia, as well as having reduced ties with Israel and Egypt and having failed to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

  • New Zealand man jailed for spreading images of IS violence: media (Reuters) - A New Zealand man was jailed on Thursday for spreading images of Islamic State (IS) violence, the first person sentenced to prison for circulating and possessing objectionable material linked to extreme violence, local media reported. Imran Patel, 26, was jailed for three years and nine months by an Auckland court after he admitted to making, distributing and possessing videos depicting cruel violence perpetuated by IS, according to news website stuff.co.nz. The prison sentence was the first for someone on an objectionable material charge related to violence.
  • Pope risks Turkey's ire with Armenia trip 

    Pope Francis poses with a band at the end of his weekly general audience in VaticanPope Francis heads to Armenia Friday for a three-day visit likely to inflame simmering tensions with Turkey over the Vatican's description of mass killings under the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The same formulation had been employed by Pope John Paul II in 2001 in a written declaration. Turkey reacted furiously to Francis's comment.

  • German mural for dead migrant boy vandalised 

    "Borders save lives" is written on the colour painting of Aylan Kurdi in FrankfurtVandals have destroyed a mural in Germany dedicated to a Syrian toddler who drowned last year trying to reach Europe with his family, police said Thursday. The 20-metre-by-six-metre (66-foot-by-20-foot) colour painting of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach last year, was smeared with silver paint and the scrawled message "Borders save lives!", a police spokesman told AFP. Directly next to the image, which had been painted with official permission by artists Oguz Sen and Justus Becker on a wall next to the city's Main River in March, was a vulgar far-right slogan targeting leftist opponents.

  • UN chief meets Saudi prince over Yemen row 

    Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman answers questions during a press conference in Riyadh, on April 25, 2016UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday hosted Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks that touched on the row between the world body and Riyadh over the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York was low-key, and neither Ban nor the Saudi prince spoke to reporters. Mohammed bin Salman is the Saudi king's son and the country's defense minister.

  • Clinton, Trump trade blows in sharpening US election battle 

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Trump Soho Hotel in New York on June 22, 2016Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came to bitter blows Wednesday, savaging each other as unfit for office and launching rival pitches to middle America as they sharpened their talons ahead of the general election in November. Clinton, who is determined to make history as America's first female commander-in-chief, ridiculed Trump hours later as the "self-proclaimed king of debt" with a "hollow sales pitch" who threatened to bankrupt the US economy. The rivals are the most loathed presidential hopefuls in modern US history -- Clinton's unpopularity after decades in public life bested only by even greater distaste for the New York billionaire.

  • Israel PM to meet Kerry in Rome on Palestinians 

    US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin, pictured on January 21, 2016, will meet in Rome to discuss stalled peace effortsIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday in Rome to discuss stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians, US and Israeli officials said. US State Department spokesman John Kirby said several issues would be on the agenda, but observers have noted that the meeting comes ahead of a report by the Quartet on the peace process.

  • US military's cyber force reluctant to cut Internet in Syria 

    A Syrian army soldier takes aim from a position on the outskirts of Syria's Raqa region on February 19, 2016The US military is wary of cutting Internet connections to Islamic State strongholds such as Raqa in Syria, even though the Pentagon is waging cyber-war against the jihadists, officials said Wednesday. Cyber Command -- better known as CYBERCOM -- officially started attacking the tech-savvy IS group in April, in what was the command's most important offensive since being established in 2010. Thomas Atkin, the acting assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security, said a "careful balance" needed to be struck, when asked why the military does not simply stop jihadists from accessing the Internet.

  • In Turkey's tussle with the EU, Erdogan thinks he holds the cards 

    Turkish President Erdogan chairs a cabinet meeting in AnkaraBy Nick Tattersall and Paul Taylor ISTANBUL/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain's Brexit campaign and the rise of Europe's populist right have further dented Turkish hopes of ever joining the EU, leaving President Tayyip Erdogan largely indifferent to its criticism and weakening an anchor of Turkish reform. While neither side has any interest in ending Turkey's decade-long accession process, their relations are increasingly transactional, driven by mutual need in areas such as migration, trade and security, rather than by convergence towards European Union norms on democracy and basic rights. Warnings from populist leaders around Europe of creeping Islamization and from campaigners for a British exit from the EU of dire consequences if Turkey, a Muslim nation of 78 million, ever joins, have led Turkish leaders to complain increasingly openly about what they see as European Islamophobia.

  • Brexit may impede Europe intel sharing: Dutch official 

    The Union and European Union flags fly outside City Hall in central London on the eve of the EU referendum on 22 June 2016Europe may have to set up new ways of sharing vital intelligence to protect itself in the fight against terror groups if Britain leaves the EU, the top Dutch anti-terror chief warned Wednesday. Asked if Thursday's vote could impact the security of Europe, national counter-terrorism coordinator Dick Schoof replied "of course" but that could be the case even without a Brexit. Intelligence cooperation with Britain, which has a large number of foreign fighters who have joined the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, is "excellent," Schoof said.

  • Conflict among U.S. allies in northern Syria clouds war on Islamic State 

    Fighters of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) stand inside a building near ManbijBy Tom Perry GAZIANTEP, Turkey (Reuters) - A smoldering confrontation between Syrian armed groups backed by the United States but hostile to each other is escalating, complicating the fight against Islamic State in the war-torn country. Syrian Arab rebels under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner say they are in a growing struggle against the Kurdish YPG militia that are helping the United States wage its campaign against IS in Syria. On June 12, one of the many FSA groups in the Aleppo area fired a guided TOW missile at a YPG position, the first attack of its kind, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and YPG said.



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