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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.

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.

Central Asian states report no sightings of Malaysian jet

The Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on Monday said there had been no sightings of the missing Malaysian passenger jet following reports that it may have reached their airspace. According to one of the possible scenarios, the Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane that mysteriously went missing on March 8 could have flown north as far as the ex-Soviet country of Kazakhstan. "There was no unsanctioned use of Kazakhstan's airspace on that day," the head of the country's civil aviation authority, Serik Mukhtybayev, told the Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency.

Central Asian states report no sightings of Malaysian jet

The Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on Monday said there had been no sightings of the missing Malaysian passenger jet following reports that it may have reached their airspace. According to one of the possible scenarios, the Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane that mysteriously went missing on March 8 could have flown north as far as the ex-Soviet country of Kazakhstan. "There was no unsanctioned use of Kazakhstan's airspace on that day," the head of the country's civil aviation authority, Serik Mukhtybayev, told the Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency.

Iran seeks to allay Gulf Arab nuclear fears

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Shiite Iran on Thursday sought to allay concerns among mainly Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab monarchies mistrustful of Tehran over its nuclear ambitions. "Our message to the other countries of the Persian Gulf is a message of friendship, fraternity and cooperation," Zarif said in the Omani capital Muscat, where he is accompanying President Hassan Rouhani on a landmark visit. The sultanate maintains strong links with Tehran, and has played an important intermediary role between Western countries and the Islamic republic.

Iran says seals gas export deal with Oman

MUSCAT (Reuters) - Iran has sealed an agreement to export 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Oman, Iran's state news agency IRNA said on Wednesday, in a deal that also involves building a pipeline across the Gulf at a cost of about $1 billion. The accord, signed during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's first visit to Muscat since his election last year, came out of a memorandum of understanding between the countries in August for the sale of Iranian gas to Oman from 2015, in a 25-year deal valued at around $60 billion.

Iran's Rouhani visits ally Oman to boost trade, Gulf ties

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Oman's leaders in Muscat on Wednesday during a visit aimed at boosting ties and easing tension with other Gulf states, including regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia. Starting his two-day visit to Iran's long-time Gulf ally, Rouhani went straight into a meeting with Sultan Qaboos, who has acted as an intermediary between Western countries and the Islamic republic. The two leaders discussed "bilateral cooperation" and "building good relations", Oman's official ONA news agency said.

Israel 'regrets' killing judge as row with Jordan widens

Israel expressed "regret" Tuesday over the shooting of a Jordanian judge at a border crossing, but its army insisted he had attacked soldiers and tried to grab a gun. The shooting on Monday set off a diplomatic row between Israel and Amman -- which signed a peace treaty 20 years ago -- with Jordan's prime minister saying Israel is "completely responsible" and demanding an apology for the "hideous" shooting.

Albania arrests seven alleged recruiters for Syria volunteers

Albanian police on Tuesday arrested seven people suspected of "acts of terrorism related to Syria" that include allegedly recruiting and training volunteer fighters, justice officials said. The seven were arrested in various locations in the capital Tirana and several other Albanian towns and police seized a large quantity of ammunition, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. The men were suspected of recruiting and training volunteers to join opposition forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, local media reported.
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