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Lebanese Vote in Critical Election




LEBANON-ELECTION: Lebanon's president was among the voters who cast ballots early Sunday in the nation's hotly contested parliamentary elections.
After President Michel Suleiman voted in his hometown, north of Beirut, he told reporters that democracy is "a blessing that distinguishes Lebanon in the Middle East."
Sunday's election pits the current U.S.-backed majority in Lebanon's parliament against a coalition led by the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran and Syria. The outcome could determine the country's future alliances.
Opinion polls are predicting a close race for the 128 parliament seats, with only a few seats likely to separate the two main camps.
ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will soon deliver a major speech that outlines his policies on peace and security.
Mr. Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that he will deliver the speech "next week," but he did not provide an exact date. The prime minister said his government intends to achieve peace with the Palestinians and Arab countries, while attempting to reach an understanding with the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama has asked Israel to stop all settlement construction as a step toward negotiating peace with the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu has called that demand unreasonable
CUBA-CASTRO-SPIES: Former Cuban President Fidel Castro says the case of the two Americans accused of spying for Cuba is "ridiculous." In an essay posted on a Cuban Web site, Mr. Castro neither confirmed nor denied the veracity of the spy charges brought by U.S. authorities against a former State Department official with a top secret security clearance, and his wife. U.S. officials have accused the couple of spying for Cuba for nearly 30 years and meeting with then-Cuban President Castro in 1995. Mr. Castro says he does not recall meeting the couple Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has accused China of imposing a "death sentence" on Tibet.

DALAI LAMA-EUROPE : The Dalai Lama made the comments after arriving in Paris Saturday, saying he believes Tibet's heritage and culture are in jeopardy. A representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile (Tashi Wangdu) told VOA from Brussels that the Dalai Lama also is concerned about the large migration of ethnic Chinese into Tibet.
The Nobel peace prize winner is in France to receive an honorary citizenship from the city of Paris. The Paris city council voted to give him the honor last April following China's crackdown on a wave of anti-government protests in Tibet.

OBAMA-EUROPE: U.S. President Barack Obama is returning home from Paris, following ceremonies on the Channel coast marking D-Day -- the 65th anniversary of the allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France during World War Two. Mr. Obama joined French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders Saturday at a solemn event commemorating the 1944 Allied invasion in Normandy. Mr. Obama told those gathered at an American cemetery the world will not forget the deeds of allied soldiers on that historic day.

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