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Kerry to pay first visits to Algeria and Morocco

US Secretary of State John Kerry will make long-delayed visits to Algeria and Morocco next week on his first trip to both countries, his spokeswoman said Wednesday. The top US diplomat will first travel to Algiers for meetings with top officials ahead of similar talks in Morocco, Jen Psaki said. She did not give exact dates but the Algerian foreign ministry said he was expected in Algiers on Wednesday-Thursday of next week. Kerry had originally planned to visit the two countries late last year, but had to change his schedule at the last minute.

Arab summit struggles to heal rifts, stave off 'enormous' peril

By Sylvia Westall and Amena Bakr KUWAIT (Reuters) - Warning of "enormous" dangers, Kuwait urged fellow Arab leaders on Tuesday to resolve disputes complicating crises such as Syria's war and unrest in Egypt, but diplomats said tensions bubbled behind the scenes at an annual heads of state summit.

Arab summit opens with calls to arm Syria rebels

Syria's opposition called for "sophisticated" arms at an Arab summit in Kuwait Tuesday while Saudi Arabia stressed the need for a change in military balance to "end the impasse". UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, however, insisted on the need for a "political solution" to the three-year conflict, urging an "end to the supply of arms to all parties". Opposition Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Jarba repeated calls on the international community to supply rebels with "sophisticated weapons" as the two-day summit opened.

Saudi Arabia calls for "changing the balance of forces" in Syria

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Saudi Crown Prince Salman called on Tuesday for "changing the balance of forces" on the ground in Syria's civil war, saying the crisis there had reached catastrophic proportions. "Exiting from the Syrian crisis requires changing the balance of forces on the ground," Prince Salman told the opening session of an annual Arab summit in Kuwait, stressing the need for more support for rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia calls for 'changing the balance of forces' in Syria

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Saudi Crown Prince Salman called on Tuesday for "changing the balance of forces" on the ground in Syria's civil war, saying the crisis there had reached catastrophic proportions. "Exiting from the Syrian crisis requires changing the balance of forces on the ground," Prince Salman told the opening session of an annual Arab summit in Kuwait, stressing the need for more support for rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama aims to soothe Saudi fears with Riyadh visit

By Matt Spetalnick and Angus McDowall WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will seek to ease Saudi concerns that he is neglecting an old ally when he visits Riyadh on Friday, months after top Saudis objected to what they saw as a growing rapprochement between Washington and their rival Iran.

Defying allies, Qatar unlikely to abandon favored Syria rebels

By Amena Bakr DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar's backing for Syrian rebels widely regarded as jihadi militants might appear a diplomatic liability at a time when global alarm about al Qaeda is on the rebound. But that is not the way things are viewed in the Gulf Arab state, which is proud of its self-declared campaign to back the Arab Spring revolts against autocratic rule that began in 2011.

UAE summons Iraq ambassador over Saudi 'terrorism' charge

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates summoned Iraq's ambassador on Wednesday to protest against his prime minister's accusations that its ally Saudi Arabia was funding terrorism, state news agency WAM reported, while Bahrain called the comments "irresponsible". Saudi Arabia has already rejected Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's assertion on Saturday that it and Qatar were funding Sunni Muslim insurgents fighting in Iraq's western Anbar province.

UAE summons Iraq ambassador over Saudi 'terrorism' charge

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates summoned Iraq's ambassador on Wednesday to protest against his prime minister's accusation that its ally Saudi Arabia was funding "terrorism", state new agency WAM reported. Saudi Arabia has already rejected Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's assertion on Saturday that it and Qatar were funding Sunni Muslim insurgents fighting in Iraq's western Anbar province. Maliki has long had chilly ties with Sunni-led Gulf Arab states, which in turn view him as too close to Shi'ite Muslim Iran.

Arab countries ban 'Noah' citing Islamic concerns

Three Arab countries have banned the biblical epic movie "Noah" because it contradicts Islam, while three more are expected to follow suit, a studio spokesman said Wednesday. Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates told Hollywood giant Paramount last week that the film, starring Russell Crowe, will not be released in their countries. Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait are expected to follow suit. The movie was due to open in Egypt on March 26 and the UAE on March 27, just before the movie comes out in the United States and a swath of other countries.
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