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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / August 11, 2008



Iraq's foreign minister said Sunday that his government and the US are "very close" to final agreement on a security deal that would determine how much longer American troops remain in his country. But Hoshyar Zebari would not discuss a timetable for withdrawal, except to say that Iraq insists that it be "very clear" if it is to win parliamentary approval. The UN mandate for stationing foreign troops in Iraq expires at year's end.

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Opposition sources in Zimbabwe would not confirm reports that their side had reached "a common position" with President Robert Mugabe that would allow him to keep his post. But South African leader Thabo Mbeki, who is brokering negotiations between the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, was seen in private meetings with each side, amid speculation that Mugabe would retain a ceremonial role. The Bloomberg news service reported that the talks have yielded one other development: a pledge by the MDC not to return farms seized from white owners by Mugabe's government.

Ten attackers and a security guard were killed Sunday when "violent terrorists" targeted a shopping center and other buildings in China's Muslim-dominated Xinjiang Province. The Xinhua news agency said the attackers had made bombs from lengths of pipe and gas canisters. A manhunt was under way for three of the militants. The incident was the second in the province in less than a week. Last Monday, assailants rammed a truck into a police patrol, killing 16 officers and wounding 16 others.

Three days of mourning and a state funeral, a tribute previously accorded only to Yasser Arafat, were scheduled for Palestinian writerMahmoud Darwish. Darwish, regarded as the national poet of the Palestinian cause, died Saturday following surgery in a Houston hospital. A shrine in his honor will be built in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

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