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Briefly

- - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

EGYPT

Official: Iran ties won't undermine Gulf security

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait | Visiting Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf vowed that Cairo's possible ties with Iran will not undermine the security of oil-rich Arab states in the Gulf.

"If we have to open a [new] page with Iran ... it will not undermine the security of the Gulf states because the security of Gulf states is important to us and Egypt's national security," he told reporters.

Mr. Sharaf arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday for a two-day official visit as part of his first Gulf tour that began in Saudi Arabia and will include Qatar.

TUNISIA

Ben Ali aides banned from standing in polls

TUNIS | Officials of Tunisia's former ruling party for the past 10 years will be barred from standing in elections July 24, Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced Tuesday.

The time limit was cut from the 23 years some groups had asked for following the ouster in January of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled since 1987 and was toppled by a popular uprising.

Mr. Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD.) was regarded as a pillar of the increasingly corrupt and repressive regime he led in the North African country. The country is being ruled by a transitional government.

"After reflection, the government has adopted a 10-year limit. We decided that 23 years was not logical. There are officials of the RCD. who were repressed by the former regime," Mr. Caid Essebsi told a news conference.

YEMEN

Officials: Deal on crisis may be done next week

SANAA | A Gulf Arab deal for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power could be finalized next week, Gulf officials said Tuesday, as Yemen struggles to end a political crisis that threatens to plunge it into chaos.

A senior opposition leader said Abdullatif al-Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, was expected to visit the capital, Sanaa, within days to determine the time and venue for signing a deal requiring Mr. Saleh to step down within 30 days.

"We expect an arrangement and signing of a deal to be completed - the sooner the better," opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa, who is seen as a top candidate to lead a transitional government, told Reuters.

Yemen's Western and Gulf Arab allies have tried for weeks to mediate a solution to a three-month crisis in which protesters, inspired by the toppling of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, have taken to the street demanding an end to Mr. Saleh's 32-year rule.

ISRAEL

Netanyahu to travel to London, Paris

JERUSALEM | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet next week with his British and French counterparts, his office said, an apparent attempt to counter support for a Palestinian initiative to set the parameters of a peace deal.

Mr. Netanyahu's trip comes after Britain, France and Germany tried two weeks ago to base a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal on the 1967 line that marks the West Bank in an initiative to the "Quartet" of Mideast peacemakers, made up of the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia. The U.S. blocked the initiative.

JORDAN

Police recover 7 ancient manuscripts

AMMAN | Jordan's archaeology chief said security police recovered seven ancient manuscripts from local smugglers.

The writings are part of 70 manuscripts that Jordanian archaeologists discovered five years ago in a cave in the north.

Later, they were stolen and most were believed to have been smuggled into Israel. Jordan has demanded Israel return the manuscripts but has gotten no response.

Ziad al-Saad said the manuscripts were found by a Bedouin. The relics could be among the earliest Christian writings in existence, but tests are under way to date them and check their authenticity, he said.

Mr. al-Saad said Tuesday that, if verified, the relics could be the most significant find in Christian archaeology since the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

From wire dispatches and staff reports