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Iraq has closed Abu Ghraib prison, made infamous by Saddam Hussein's regime and US forces, due to security concerns following a mass breakout last year, the justice ministry said Tuesday. The country is suffering a protracted surge in violence that has claimed more than 2,550 lives this year, and the area west of Baghdad where the prison is located is particularly insecure.

A senior army officer died when his helicopter crashed due to a malfunction, the defence ministry said, as violence in Iraq killed seven people on Tuesday. Iraq is suffering a protracted surge in violence that has claimed more than 2,550 lives this year.
The United States said Tuesday it will not issue a visa to Iran's chosen UN envoy Hamid Aboutalebi because he was involved in the 1979 hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran. "Given his role in the events of 1979, which clearly matter profoundly to the American people, it would be unacceptable to grant this visa," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Masked gunmen kidnapped Jordan's ambassador to Libya as he rode to work in Tripoli on Tuesday, shooting at his car and wounding his driver, officials said. It was the latest targeting of Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats in the increasingly lawless North African country, three years after Nato-backed rebels ousted autocratic leader Moamer Qadhafi.
Saudi Arabia Tuesday urged "stern" world action against Syria after the regime's decision to hold presidential elections and its alleged use of toxic gas against civilians. Saudi Arabia is one of the main backers of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war increasingly seen as a proxy battle between it and regional rival Iran.
Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be US anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country's civil war. They would signal a further internationalisation of the conflict, with new rockets suspected from Russia and drones from Iran also spotted in the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian army troops backed by pro-regime militiamen entered rebel-held neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs on Tuesday after laying siege to the districts for nearly two years. The assault follows a UN operation earlier this year that saw some 1,400 people trapped inside the besieged neighbourhoods evacuated, though around 1,300 people, mostly fighters, remained behind.
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Annual2012/13
Foreign Debt $60.9bn
Per Cap Income $1,368
GDP Growth 3.6%
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MonthlyFebruary
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