Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, May 15

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BAGHDAD -- The U.S. Embassy in Iraq said on Wednesday that the U.S. State Department has ordered the non-emergency U.S. employees working in both the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil to leave Iraq.

"Normal visa services at both posts (Baghdad and Erbil) will be temporarily suspended," an embassy statement said. (Iraq-US-Departure)

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ISTANBUL -- Turkey's main opposition party on Wednesday called for lawyers in the country to monitor the ballot boxes during the re-run of the mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23.

The Republican People's Party (CHP) initiated a campaign, dubbed "One ballot box, one lawyer," with a view to preventing possible irregularities and wrongdoing during the voting and counting processes, the party said in a press release. (Turkey-Istanbul Election-Re-run)

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ANKARA -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed to form a joint working group on Syria's Idlib issue as soon as possible, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

In a phone conversation with Putin late on Monday, Erdogan expressed his concern over cease-fire violations in the past two weeks by Syrian government forces in the Idlib de-escalation zone. (Turkey-Russia-Idlib)

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ANKARA -- Turkey and Iraq signed a mutually beneficial deal to strengthen military and security cooperation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

After meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Erdogan told reporters that they agreed on fighting against terrorism, reconstruction works in Iraq and next steps to enhance cooperation between the two neighboring countries. (Turkey-Iraq) Enditem

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