In this picture taken on Thursday May 23, 2013, a Lebanese man looks at Hezbollahs' mock rockets, at the Khiam prison which was used by Israeli troops during their occupation of southern Lebanon and which was destroyed in the 2006 war, at the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, Lebanon. While memories of Israel's rule and Hezbollah's defiance during two decades of south Lebanon occupation are still raw in the south, the Iran-backed group's strategic decision to send fighters to Qusair, a Syrian town near the Lebanese border, has raised concerns that Hezbollah will get sucked deep into the civil war next door, depleting its ability to defend Lebanon in a future confrontation with Israel. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanese security officials say Hezbollah fighters have exchanged fire with residents of the eastern city of Baalbek in clashes that left two militants dead.
The officials say the shooting occurred Saturday at a Hezbollah checkpoint in the city, a stronghold of the militant group.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in lines with regulations, said two Hezbollah militants were killed and two members of the Shiah family were wounded.
Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said three people died. It wasn't immediately possible to reconcile the death tolls.
Hezbollah set up checkpoints in its strongholds after an Aug. 15 blast in Beirut's southern suburbs killed 27 people. Many resent the checkpoints.
The officials said Lebanese troops were trying to enter the area to separate the gunmen.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- While many Iranians are welcoming the historic phone conversation between President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, some hard-liners are accusing their leader of selling out.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who heads Parliament's foreign policy and national security committee, was quoted by media Saturday as saying that the 15-minute telephone talk the day before showed Iran's "might." But the hardline rajanews.com news website said there was no justification for Rouhani to talk to the "Great Satan," its term for the United States, and that the conversation was "useless."
The Friday phone conversation was a step toward ending more than three decades of estrangement. The two presidents pledged to resolve concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, which have isolated Iranians from the global community and led to crippling economic sanctions.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Iraq's foreign minister says he doubts the escalating violence in the country will lead to "an all-out sectarian or civil war."
Hoshyar Zebari gave several reasons in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press: the Shiite, Sunni and other communities "know their limits;" the violence is limited mainly to Baghdad and its suburbs; and Sunni and Shiite religious leaders have edicts against killing each other's followers.
More than 4,500 people have been killed since April in a surge of violence by insurgents aimed at undermining confidence in the government. The growing unrest has intensified fears of renewed war between Shiites and Sunnis.
Zebari said the United States has responded positively to Iraq's request for military equipment and counterterrorism and intelligence assistance, but a request for drones is still "being processed."
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- Tunisia's governing Islamist party has agreed to resign in favor of a caretaker government in an attempt to resolve a political crisis that has paralyzed the country, officials said Saturday.
The assassination of a left-wing politician at the end of July -- the second in five months -- was the turning point for the country's disgruntled opposition, which pulled its deputies out of parliament and staged a string of protests across the country.
The opposition also faulted the governing Ennahda Party for ignoring a rising trend of Islamic radicals, some of whom attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tunis last year. But the government has since cracked down on these groups, throwing many of their members in jail.
Tunisia kicked off the Arab Spring by overthrowing its long-ruling dictator, Zine El Abidine, but its transition to democracy has been dogged by terrorist attacks, a struggling economy and widening divisions between Ennahda and the opposition.
After the second assassination, the UGTT, the country's main labor union, together with other members of the civil society, mediated between the government and the opposition for two months to bring the transition back on track.
"It is a positive development for Ennahda, which has accepted the plan without reserve or conditions, and which will clear the impasse," Bouali Mbarki, the deputy head of the union, said Saturday. He said his union has a written statement from Ennahda about that, and opposition officials also confirmed the agreement.
The road map set forward by the negotiators has Prime Minister Ali Larayedh's government resigning in three weeks as negotiations go forward on the section of an apolitical figure to replace him and an interim, non-partisan government.
Meanwhile, the legislators boycotting the Assembly will return to work and finish the constitution over the next four weeks.
An election commission also will be set up to fix a date and organize presidential and legislative elections in the coming months.
MADRID (AP) -- Hundreds of protesters have marched in Spain's capital to call for the abdication of King Juan Carlos, the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic.
A large police presence blocked access to the Royal Palace, where the demonstration was due to end in a rally, with metal barriers and police vans.
Protesters marched under banners reading "Checkmate to the King" and chanting "Tomorrow, Spain will be a republic."
University student Anthea Bauza, 22, said the monarchy needed to be replaced by a democratically-elected head of state.
A heavy downpour caused many protesters to peel off from Saturday's march before it reached a newly convened gathering point near the palace.
LONDON (AP) -- Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's ashes have been laid to rest in London at a service attended by her family and closest friends.
The Conservative leader's children, Mark and Carol Thatcher, were among those who gathered for a short service on Saturday before an oak casket containing her ashes was buried at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Her remains were placed alongside those of her husband Denis, who died in 2003.
A headstone bearing the inscription "Margaret Thatcher 1925 - 2013" was erected on top of the site.
Thatcher, who led Britain from 1979 to 1990, died aged 87 in April.
In April, Britain held a ceremonial funeral with full military honors for Thatcher at St. Paul's Cathedral. About 2,300 guests attended, including dignitaries from 170 countries.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- A meeting of the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers in New York this weekend is a fresh chance for one leader to push for peace on the subcontinent -- and likely the last chance for the other.
Three-time Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif and India's Manmohan Singh are due to meet Sunday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. It is their first face-to-face since Sharif's election victory in May. Singh will step down next year.
Sharif calls the meeting a chance for a "new beginning," but Singh has tamped down expectations for the talks, which take place amid an upsurge in militant attacks in disputed Kashmir.
Speaking on Friday after a White House meeting with President Barack Obama, Singh said, "the epicenter of terror still remains focused in Pakistan."
BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese authorities say 92 abducted children have been rescued in a police operation that netted 301 suspects in a massive child trafficking scheme.
The Ministry of Public Security said late Friday that police forces from 11 provinces were involved in the operation to break up a network that stole, bought and sold children in Henan province in central China and other provinces, including Yunnan, Sichuan and Guangxi in the southwest.
Child abduction is a major problem in China where such police operations have become regular occurrences as authorities crack down on child trafficking. Strict family planning laws, a traditional preference for boys, ignorance of the law, poverty and illicit profits drive a thriving market in babies and children. China also plans to introduce laws to punish buyers of children.
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