Gaza leader leaves for Muslim states

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh left the territory Sunday on his first trip abroad since his Hamas movement seized power in 2007, hoping to improve ties with Muslim countries swept up in the uprisings convulsing the Arab world.

His deputy, Mohammed Awwad, said Haniyeh would visit Egypt, Sudan, Qatar, Bahrain, Tunisia, and Turkey. He said Haniyeh would discuss possible development projects for Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Israeli construction in disputed Jerusalem and progress toward reconciling the dueling governments of the two Palestinian territories.

Haniyeh had been confined to Gaza, mostly because of tensions with Egypt and fighting with Israel. But Egypt's new rulers have warmed up to Hamas since longtime President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. - AP

U.N., Iraq agree on Iranian exiles

BAGHDAD - The United Nations and the Iraqi government have signed an agreement to relocate several thousand Iranian exiles living in Camp Ashraf in northeastern Iraq, the U.N. office in Baghdad said Sunday. It was not clear yet whether the camp's residents had signed off on the deal.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq said the deal established a process to move the residents to a temporary unspecified location. U.S. and Iraqi officials have previously identified a former American military base in Baghdad as the location being considered.

From there, the U.N. refugee agency will process their asylum claims with the idea that they would eventually be resettled in other countries. The People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran first moved to Camp Ashraf during the regime of Saddam Hussein. Its members are committed to the overthrow of Iran's regime and sided with Iraq in the 1980s war against Iran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government considers the camp as an affront to Iraq's sovereignty. - AP

Royal grandkids visit Prince Philip

LONDON - Queen Elizabeth II emphasized the importance of family in her prerecorded Christmas message this year, and her grandchildren brought some Christmas cheer to her husband, Prince Philip, as he recovered in a hospital after a heart procedure.

Philip, 90, had to miss the royal family's traditional Christmas festivities after doctors put in a coronary stent. Buckingham Palace said it did not know when he would be released.

Princes William and Harry visited Philip at Papworth Hospital, as did Prince Andrew's daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and Princess Anne's children, Zara and Peter. - AP