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Two Tunisians abducted in Libya freed: embassy

A Tunisian diplomat and a fellow embassy staffer abducted in Libya earlier this year were freed by their abductors on Sunday after months in captivity, an embassy source said. "They have been freed and should be returning to Tunisia soon," the source, who declined to be identified, told AFP, adding that the pair were in good health. Diplomats in Tripoli say militias which fought to topple the Moamer Kadhafi regime in the 2011 uprising often carry out kidnappings to blackmail other countries into releasing Libyans they hold. At the time Tunis said a jihadist group was behind the abductions and was demanding the release of Libyans jailed in Tunisia for their role in a deadly "terrorist operation" that took place three years ago.


Iran, Qatar to cooperate against 'terror'

The leaders of Shiite Iran and Sunni Qatar vowed Sunday to cooperate to fight "terrorism in the region", President Hassan Rouhani's office reported as Iraqi forces counter a militant onslaught. The pledge to play a "constructive role to establish security and stability" came in a phone call between Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Rouhani, a statement from the Iranian president's office said. Iran is ready, he said, to do just that and "fight security problems and instability in the region" that benefit only "Zionists and the enemies of the Muslim world". Iranian media, however, have accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of supporting the jihadist Sunni fighters.


Israel allows 1,500 Jordanians to work in Eilat

The Israeli government Sunday authorised 1,500 more Jordanians to come and work in its Red Sea resort of Eilat to combat a labour shortage, the tourism ministry said. The Jordanians would enter Israel to work and go back across the border to Jordan at night once their shift was finished, the ministry said in a statement. "I am persuaded that this decision will reinforce peace between Israel and Jordan, and help reduce high unemployment in southern Jordan," it quoted Tourism Minister Uzi Landau as saying. Ministry figures show that some 300 Jordanians currently work in and around the resort, which has about 12,000 hotel rooms.


Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The jihadist 'caliph'

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy jihadist fighting in Iraq and Syria, and newly declared leader of a "caliphate" encompassing all Muslims, is increasingly seen as more powerful than Al-Qaeda's chief. The leader of the powerful Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group was declared Sunday the "caliph" in an attempt to revive a system of rule that ended nearly 100 years ago with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. "The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue (of the caliphate)... The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio recording distributed online.


Mauritania's highest court confirms election win for Abdel Aziz

Mauritania's highest court on Sunday confirmed the victory of incumbent leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in presidential polls, and rejected an appeal calling for the results to be annulled. "The candidate Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was elected President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in the first round of the presidential election," the chairman of the constitutional council, Sgheyir Ould M'barek, said during an official ceremony. The chairman added that 57-year-old Abdel Aziz had won "an absolute majority of votes cast" in the June 21 election. Final results released by the council gave Abdel Aziz 81.94 percent of the vote, slightly higher than the provisional figure of 81.89 percent given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a week ago.


Israel tightens grip on E.Jerusalem with $90m plan

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a $90 million dollar socio-economic development plan for annexed east Jerusalem which focuses on increased security and police presence in the area, the municipality said. The plan involves an increase in the number of policemen on the beat as well as a greater number of security cameras. "According to Israel police assessments, the plan will lead to a significant decline in the short- and medium-term of over 50 percent in displays of violence," it said. Police figures quoted by the municipality indicate that in March and April, there were 390 incidents of stone-throwing at the security forces and vehicles in east Jerusalem, as well as dozens of cars stolen and break-ins.


Obama: European jihadists threaten US

US President Barack Obama warned that "battle-hardened" Europeans who embrace jihad in Syria and Iraq threaten the United States because their passports mean they can enter the country without a visa. Nearly 800 French citizens have spent time fighting in Syria's civil war, according to latest estimates, and Belgium says 200 of its people have done the same. Those holding French, Belgian and British passports -- along with a host of other European countries -- do not need visas to visit the United States, meaning they can potentially avoid scrutiny. "We have seen Europeans sympathetic to their (militants') cause traveling into Syria and may now travel into Iraq, getting battle-hardened.


Obama to seek funds to stem border influx

The White House is poised to seek about $2 billion in emergency funds to help stem the flow of tens of thousands of Central American children entering the United States illegally. The request will add to an already fiery debate in Washington over US immigration reform and growing concerns about the steady increase of minors illicitly smuggled from Central America and across Mexico into the US. The White House on Monday will send a letter informing Congress it will be requesting the additional resources to help boost border security, among other measures, as well as attempting to get to the root causes of migration. The measures will include stepping up the fight against criminal networks responsible for smuggling children, the official said, adding the administration of President Barack Obama will also ask lawmakers to modify existing statutes to simplify the process of returning deportees.


Turkish President says will not run for second term

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he would not seek a second term in office, further raising the likelihood that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would run for the top job. Already in his third term as prime minister -- the maximum permitted under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s rules -- Erdogan is widely expected to be unveiled on Tuesday as his party's candidate for August's presidential poll.


'Mistake by the Lake' seeks political redemption

CLEVELAND (AP) — This Lake Erie city has suffered some bad public relations over the years and has made headlines for all the wrong reasons: poverty, pollution, foreclosure, bizarre crimes and a fleeing population. Yet, thanks to billions of dollars spent burnishing the city's image and its physical face, Cleveland is one of two finalists for the Republican national convention in 2016 and a longshot candidate to host the Democrats, as well.


Putin calls on Ukraine leader to extend truce with rebels

Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday joined the leaders of Germany and France in calling on Ukraine to extend its temporary ceasefire with pro-Kremlin militias beyond Monday, the Kremlin said.


Rise of jihadists in Iraq a boon for Damascus

The rise of jihadists in Iraq has set the West on edge, but Damascus sees it is an opportunity to legitimise its battle against rebels and promote it as a war on "terror". President Bashar al-Assad's regime has repeatedly denied the existence of a revolt seeking political change in Syria, instead branding its opponents -- both peaceful and armed -- as "terrorists". For Damascus, the lightning Sunni offensive in neighbouring Iraq led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) provides a chance to lend credence to its rhetoric. "The West must recognise it made a mistake by encouraging all these people to establish themselves in the region," said Waddah Abed Rabbo, editor-in-chief of pro-regime daily Al-Watan.


Suspected Islamists 'attack churches near Nigeria's Chibok'

Suspected Boko Haram Islamists attacked a series of churches on Sunday near Chibok, the northeast Nigeria town where more than 200 teenage girls were kidnapped in April, with dozens feared dead, witnesses said. "The attackers went to churches with bombs and guns," Timothy James, a Chibok resident said by phone, explaining that the villages were within 10 kilometres (six miles) of Chibok.


Wendy Davis tries to get Texas campaign for governor back on track

By Jon Herskovitz DALLAS (Reuters) - For one day a year ago, Wendy Davis became the brightest star in the U.S. political universe when she donned pink tennis shoes and launched a one-woman, 10-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions that brought her international attention. Now she is battling to revive a seemingly stalled campaign to become the first Democratic Texas governor in more than 20 years by winning over frustrated Republicans and motivating enough voters who would otherwise spend election day at home to find a few minutes to vote. State Senator Davis, 51, came into the Texas Democratic convention in Dallas over the weekend with surveys showing her 10-13 percent points behind the Republican nominee, Attorney General Greg Abbott, 56, and failing to close ground. "I'm running because there's a moderate majority that's being ignored - commonsense, practical, hardworking Texans whose voices are being drowned out by insiders in Greg Abbott's party, and it needs to stop," she told the convention on Friday.


Two Israelis, one Egyptian to face trial over 'spying'

Cairo (AFP) - An Egyptian and two Israelis, including an intelligence officer, will be tried by an Egyptian court for allegedly "spying" for the Jewish state, judicial sources said on Sunday.


Benghazi suspect's court case could offer clarity

WASHINGTON (AP) — A court appearance for the alleged mastermind of the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, is the first step in a long legal process that could yield new insight into a fiery assault that continues to reverberate across U.S. politics.


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