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A suicide bomber killed up to 20 people including five policemen and many plainclothes security guards at a Baghdad restaurant close to the Green Zone government compound on Sunday, several police sources said. Meanwhile, US troops, backed by Iraqi forces and American and British aircraft, pushed into the northern section of Karabila, a virtually deserted town near the Syrian border, as part of Operation Spear. It is one of two offensives launched in the western desert against Sunni Arab rebels fighting the US presence and new Iraqi government. A hundred or so people waving white flags walked out from northern areas of Karabila at dawn on Sunday after loudspeaker warnings that the Marines were about to seize the district.

Iran said on Sunday that a rapprochement with Washington was impossible until the US stopped interfering in Tehran's domestic affairs. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi also fired back at US accusations that Iran's presidential poll, the first round of which was held on Friday, was a sham. Meanwhile, Iranian reformists urged their dejected supporters to rally behind cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to prevent his surprise hard-line challenger Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from winning a presidential runoff.

Both the Israelis and Palestinians agree that the homes in the Gaza Strip settlements will need to be destroyed when Israel pulls out this summer, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday in Jerusalem during meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The two sides also agreed to work to ensure that goods and people are able to flow into and out of Gaza after the pullout, she said.

Israel publicly apologized to the US on Sunday over arms exports to China that have drawn criticism from Washington and strained US-Israeli security ties. The dispute centers on Israel's sale of attack drones and other advanced technology to China that the Pentagon worries could make it difficult to defend Taiwan, which Beijing deems a renegade province.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi attended a memorial service on Iwo Jima Sunday, the first Japanese leader to visit the Pacific island since its surrender 60 years ago after one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. At a newly refurbished memorial, Koizumi pledged not to forget the troops lost on either side on the Japanese island, where 28,000 combatants lost their lives.

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