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UN: 30 May 2008 – The United Nations health agency today called on governments to impose a ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to deter young people around the world from taking up smoking.

A day ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing its campaign this year on the young, citing statistics that show most people start smoking before the age of 18 – and some are hooked by the time they turn 10.

“The tobacco industry employs predatory marketing strategies to get young people hooked to their addictive drug,” said Douglas Bettcher, Director of the agency’s Tobacco Free Initiative.

“But comprehensive advertising bans do work, reducing tobacco consumption by up to 16 per cent in countries that have already taken this legislative step.”

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London: (Agencies: 29/5/2008: Amnesty International today challenged world leaders to apologize for six decades of human rights failure and re-commit themselves to deliver concrete improvements. 

Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, launching AI Report 2008: State of the World’s Human Rights said , "Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world today. Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between promise and performance." 

Amnesty International’s Report 2008, shows that sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 countries and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.

2007 was characterised by the impotence of Western governments and the ambivalence or reluctance of emerging powers to tackle some of the world’s worst human rights crises, ranging from entrenched conflicts to growing inequalities which are leaving millions of people behind," said Ms Khan.

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UN: 28 May 2008 – A senior United Nations official today welcomed recent political progress in Lebanon and the start of indirect talks between Israel and Syria, but cautioned that there are still serious challenges to achieve a wider peace in the Middle East.

Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), told reporters after briefing the Security Council that the election of a president in Lebanon and the Israeli-Syrian negotiations “can change the dynamics,” adding that he was very happy to be able to report some positive developments this month.

But he also struck a note of caution, noting that he “warned the Council that all these developments are still taking place in an environment which is very fragile and nowhere is that more true than on the Palestinian-Israeli track, which still remains a central issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

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Doha: (NHRC- 26/5/2008): In cooperation with the Qatar Orphan Foundation, The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) is organizing a forum on the Rights of Orphans in Sharia (Islamic Laws), international covenants and national legislation on the occasion of the Arab Orphan Day.  

The forum opens at 09:00 a.m local time today at NHRC headquarters with opening speeches by Dr. Ali Bin Smaikh Al-Marri al-Marry and NHRC Secretary-General Mr Khalid Kamal Director-General of the Qatar Orphan Foundation.

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BEIRUT (AFP-25/5/2008) – The Lebanese parliament convenes on Sunday to elect army chief Michel Sleiman as president in a first step towards defusing an often deadly 18-month standoff between feuding political factions.

The parliamentary session is expected to be attended by several foreign dignitaries, including Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

Last Wednesday, the rivals finally agreed to elect Sleiman and form a national unity government, in which the opposition has veto power, after five days of intense talks brokered by the Arab League in the Qatari capital. 

The Doha talks came after 65 people were killed in fierce sectarian battles earlier this month between supporters of the Hezbollah-led opposition and pro-government forces.

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Doha (Agencies:22/5/2008):  Rival Lebanese leaders signed a deal yesterday to end 18 months of political conflict that had threatened to push the country to a new civil war. The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said yesterday that the peace deal was made possible because all the parties involved “rose above their sentiments” and proved their commitment to the Lebanese people.  

The deal, announced after days of tense talks in Doha, calls for the election of army chief Michel Sleiman as president, the formation of a unity government in which the opposition has a veto, a new election law and a ban on the use of weapons in internal conflicts.

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri was to convene lawmakers within 24 hours for the vote but a senior Siniora aide said parliament would now meet on Sunday.

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DOHA (AFP): 21/5/2008 – Rival Lebanese leaders reached an agreement early today in Arab-mediated crisis talks held in Doha to end a political feud that nearly drove the country to a new civil war, an opposition MP said. 

"An agreement has been reached," between the Western-backed pro-government majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition, MP Ali Hasan Khalil told reporters. 

"We expect a (parliamentary) vote to elect a president on Thursday or Friday," he said ahead of a Wednesday deadline for the Doha talks to wrap up.

The details of the agreement were not revealed, but another opposition delegate who requested not to be named had said earlier that a joint committee formed to iron out differences over a decisive electoral law for parliamentary polls due next year had been "making final touches to a deal."

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DOHA (Agencies: 20/5/2008):  Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Bin Abduallah al-Mahmoud said on Tuesday that the Arab ministerial committee made two proposals for Lebanon’s ruling majority and the opposition to solve their political stand-off.

At a press conference, al-Mahmoud said that the Arab committee considers the two proposals as the "ideal solution" to solve the crisis.

Al-Mahmoud did not divulge the contents of the proposals, saying he could not do so as long as the Lebanese factions had not yet agreed on them.
He said that one of the Lebanese factions, whom he did not identify, has demanded some time to examine the recommendations and decide on them.

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DOHA, Qatar (AFP-18/5/2008):- Tension mounted on Sunday’s second day of talks between rival Lebanese leaders trying to end a feud that pushed their country towards all-out sectarian war, as politicians traded charges over the divisive issue of Hezbollah arms.  

After a virtual blackout on the progress of side talks taking place behind closed doors, HH the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani stepped in on Sunday, meeting representatives of both sides.  

Following the meeting between HH the Emir and the main leaders of the rival factions, a delegate attending the meeting told AFP that Qatar proposed the formation of a unity government as a possible way out of the current crisis in Lebanon. The Qatari suggestion was to postpone a decision over a disputed electoral law and move directly to the election of army chief Michel Sleiman as Lebanese president, the delegate said.

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DOHA (AFP)-17/5/2008:  Lebanon’s politicians asked Qatar on Saturday to come up with a proposal on the thorny issue of Hezbollah’s weapons during Arab-brokered talks aimed at ending a feud that drove their country to the brink of a new civil war.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al-Thani "offered to come up with a proposal on the Hezbollah weaponry issue and present it to the two parties," a pro-government delegate told AFP.

Host Qatar made the offer after leaders of the ruling parliamentary majority initially insisted without success on including the arms question on the agenda, said the delegate, requesting anonymity.

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