Xinhua Middle East news summary at 2200 GMT, March 17

ANKARA -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed Friday to ask the parliament to vote on Finland's NATO membership bid, but delayed that of Sweden, saying Finland has taken concrete steps to address Türkiye's security concerns.

"We have observed concrete and sincere steps from Finland in recent times. As a result of Finland's sensitivities towards our legitimate security concerns, we have decided to initiate the approval process" in the parliament, Erdogan said at a press conference with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto in the Turkish capital of Ankara. (Türkiye-Finland-NATO Bid)

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RAMALLAH -- A Palestinian was killed by Israeli soldiers on Friday after he tried to carry out a stabbing attack near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement.

Yazzan Khseib, 23, was killed after he was shot by Israeli soldiers north of the city, the statement says, without elaborating. (Palestine-Israel-Killing)

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TEHRAN -- Iran on Friday slammed the European Parliament as "baseless" and "anti-Iran" to adopt a resolution on suspected poisoning of schoolgirls in the country.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said it was "surprising and regrettable" for the European side to make such a move while Iran was seriously investigating the issue at its highest levels, according to a statement published on the ministry's website. (Iran-European Resolution-Schoolgirl Poisoning)

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ANKARA -- An official report released on Friday estimated that the twin earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye on Feb. 6 cost approximately 2 trillion Turkish liras (about 105.2 billion U.S. dollars) for the country.

The report, announced by Türkiye's Treasury and Finance Ministry and prepared by the presidency's department of strategy and budget, predicted that the financial burden caused by the tragic tremors could reach approximately 9 percent of the national income in 2023. (Türkiye-Earthquakes-Economic Loss)

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