Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, Aug. 8

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DAMASCUS -- Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the Syrian government rejects the U.S.-Turkish agreement to establish a safe zone in northern Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

A ministry statement branded the United States and Turkey as forces of occupation, saying the agreement, which was reached on Wednesday, constitutes a flagrant violation of the international law and the UN Charter. (Syria-Turkey-U.S.)

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BAGHDAD -- Chinese and Iraqi officials on Thursday expressed keenness to strengthen bilateral ties and boost cooperation in various fields, including facilitating visa applications, Iraqi Foreign Ministry said.

During a meeting between Chinese Ambassador to Iraq Zhang Tao and Hamid Abbas, head of Iraqi Foreign Ministry's Asia and Australia Department, the two sides discussed issues of common interest and vowed to enhance bilateral cooperation, the ministry said in a statement. (Iraq-China-Cooperation)

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TEHRAN -- Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said Thursday that a recent U.S. plan to establish a maritime coalition force for escorting ships would not bring security to the Gulf, Tasnim news agency reported.

The regional security is only guaranteed within the regional states' cooperation, Hatami was quoted as saying. (Iran-U.S.-Gulf)

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ANKARA --Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday Turkey will advance its relations with Asian countries under the newly launched Asia Anew initiative, but it is "not an axis shift."

Asia is becoming the world's economic center, and Turkey wants to further enhance its relations with Asia in multiple dimensions, Cavusoglu said at a press conference in the capital Ankara. (Turkey-Asia Initiative-Shif) Enditem

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