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Koffi Annan launches last-ditch effort to convince Sudan

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who leaves office in less than two weeks, is making a last-ditch effort to convince Sudan to accept a much stronger peacekeeping force in Darfur, U.N. diplomats said on Monday.
Annan told the U.N. Security Council he was naming former General Assembly President Jan Eliasson of Sweden as a special envoy to Sudan, to serve during the transition to incoming U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who takes over as secretary-general on Jan. 1, council diplomats said.

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Fatah and Hamas members abducted by gunmen were freed

Fatah and Hamas members abducted by gunmen were freed late on Monday as part of deal between the two side, Fatah and Hamas sources said.
They said eight Fatah activists and four Hamas members, including senior official Emad Deeb, had been released and handed over to third party mediators.

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Naftohaz Ukrayiny won a tender to develop oil and gas deposits in Egypt

Ukraine's Naftohaz Ukrayiny won a tender to develop oil and gas deposits in Egypt.
The Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported Monday that the international tender was to develop deposits at Alam El Shawish East in the western Egyptian desert.

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Former CIA Director Robert Gates officially sworn in as U.S. secretary of defense

Former CIA Director Robert Gates was officially sworn in as U.S. secretary of defense on Monday, replacing embattled Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, who was under fire for his handling of the Iraq war.
Gates was sworn in at 7:03 a.m. (1203 GMT) by White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in the chief of staff's office, a White House spokeswoman said.

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Dubai wrapped up its international film festival with new Arab film awards

In a ceremony as lavish as the Arabian Nights, Dubai wrapped up its third international film festival on Sunday night with new cash awards for Arab cinema scooped up by Algerian, Tunisian and Palestinian films.
The festival's top prize -- $50,000 for best feature film -- went to "Barakat!", an Algerian road movie about a woman's quest to find her husband after he is kidnapped by Islamic militants.

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European Muslims community face deep-seated rascist discrimination

Europe’s Muslims face deep-seated discrimination in education, housing and jobs that can alienate them from the mainstream, but say they could do more themselves to connect with wider society, an EU report said on Monday.

The study by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia is the first to cover Muslims across the European Union and coincides with growing scrutiny of EU Muslims spurred by “terrorism” and increased immigration from the Islamic world.

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