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Iraqis are less concerned about violence in their midst and more confident about their futures than they were a year ago, a new survey has found. The poll, conducted last month by ABC News, the BBC, and Japan's NHK Television, sampled 2,228 people across all 18 provinces. Eight-five percent of respondents described current conditions as "very good" or "quite good," an increase of 23 points over March 2008. Fifty-six percent said they believe their lives will be better a year from now.

Aides to Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he has reached agreement for a coalition government with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beytenu Party. The deal reportedly calls for the latter's leader, Avigdor Lieberman, to be foreign minister. But the aides said its wording leaves an opening for the current office holder, Tzipi Livni, to keep the post if her Kadima Party were to join the coalition. Such an outcome appeared increasingly unlikely, however, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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