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Prime Minister Harper holds meeting with Israeli president Shimon Peres

JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has received a warm welcome from Shimon Peres at the Israeli president’s office as he continues his tour of Israel. Harper stepped out of a motorcade and was greeted by Peres at the end of a red carpet in a courtyard amid several towering cedar trees. After entering the building, Harper sat in an elegant vestibule and penned a lengthy message in a guestbook. In his welcoming remarks, Peres said Harper is visiting during a challenging time, adding that "Syria is broken, Iran is broken."

AP Interview: Davos forum founder expects focus on Syria, Iran during event at Swiss resort

DAVOS, Switzerland - Talks over the future of Syria and Iran will occur on the sidelines of the annual gathering for political and financial elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the founder of the World Economic Forum said Monday. Klaus Schwab said in an interview with the Associated Press that there will be crossover between the forum's 2,500 participants and the officials from the U.S., Russia and close to 40 other countries that are attending the start of the Syria peace conference several hours away in Montreux, Switzerland.

Mideast may flare up if peace talks fail: Israel's Peres

The Middle East could erupt into violence if the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapse, Israel's President Shimon Peres warned on Monday. "It is crucial that these negotiations will be completed successfully," Peres said after meeting Romanian President Traian Basescu. "A failure to do so would be tragic for the Middle East. The situation in the Middle East can flare up overnight if the talks fail." Israel and the Palestinians embarked upon a nine-month track of direct negotiations at the urging of US Secretary of State John Kerry, at the end of July.

Canada PM arrives in Israel for four-day visit

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper began his first official visit to Israel on Sunday, with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu hailing him as a "great friend" of the Jewish state. Canada is one of Israel's staunchest allies and was one of the few countries that opposed a successful Palestinian bid for upgraded status at the United Nations in 2012. Harper's plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport at 1230 GMT at the start of his four-day visit, a spokeswoman for the Canadian embassy in Israel told AFP.

Canada PM Harper to make first official Mideast trip

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make his first official trip to the Middle East from January 18 through 25, stopping in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. There, Harper will meet with political and business leaders and others to discuss trade and security matters, including "persistent threats posed by the Iranian regime, the ongoing instability in Syria and the Middle East peace process," his spokesman Jason MacDonald told a briefing.

Israeli minister to lead delegation to UAE energy summit

Israel's Minister of Energy Silvan Shalom travels on Friday to the United Arab Emirates to attend a conference on renewable energy, a spokesman said. Shalom, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, will head a delegation to the International Renewable Energy Agency's conference in Abu Dhabi, the spokesman said Thursday. The conference is due to open Saturday and the minister returns home on Monday, he added.

Israeli minister to lead delegation to UAE energy summit

Israel's Minister of Energy Silvan Shalom travels on Friday to the United Arab Emirates to attend a conference on renewable energy, a spokesman said. Shalom, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, will head a delegation to the International Renewable Energy Agency's conference in Abu Dhabi, the spokesman said. The conference is due to open Saturday and the minister returns home on Monday, he added. Israel has quietly been seeking the alliance of Gulf monarchies, which like the Jewish state are concerned over Iran's rising regional power.

Kerry vows to press peace push despite Israel minister slur

US Secretary of State John Kerry vowed Wednesday to press his drive for Middle East peace despite a slur by Israel's defence minister that sparked a furious row between the allies. Kerry said he was not prepared to let the comments of one individual derail the marathon peace push which has seen him visit the Middle East 10 times in less than a year in the quest for a framework agreement by April.

Israel's Yaalon risks isolation after Kerry slur

Israel's defence minister may have apologised for his offensive comments about US Secretary of State John Kerry but his outburst could see him marginalised by Washington, commentators warned on Wednesday. A furious diplomatic row erupted between Israel and its closest ally on Tuesday when Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon was quoted as saying Kerry had an "obsession" about the peace process and was working out of a "sense of messianism."

Filipina carer wins Israel's 'X-Factor'

A 47-year-old Filipina carer has won the televised talent show X-Factor Israel, shooting to fame with her winning rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way." Rose Fostanes, the only foreign contestant on the X-Factor, emigrated to Israel six years ago to work as a carer for the sick and elderly, before winning the competition late on Tuesday night. Fostanes's powerful, soulful singing voice quickly made her an audience favourite from her first audition for the show, which was hosted by four celebrity judges and filmed in studios in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.
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