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Vietnam jails former politburo official for 13 years in graft crackdown

HANOI (Reuters) - A court in Vietnam on Monday sentenced a former politburo official to 13 years in prison and another high-profile energy official to life imprisonment for embezzlement and violating state rules, in a corruption crackdown, state media said.

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Bangladesh says start of Rohingya return to Myanmar delayed

PALONGKHALI, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Bangladesh has delayed the repatriation of Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar, set to start on Tuesday, because the process of compiling and verifying the list of people to be sent back is incomplete, a senior Bangladesh official said.

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Operation in Syria to have very limited impact on Turkish economy: Simsek

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's military operation against a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin region will have a very limited impact on the Turkish economy and budget, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Monday.

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Philippines raises volcano alert again; hazardous eruption seen imminent

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines raised the alert level at its Mayon volcano on Monday after a loud explosion in the wake of increased activity made a hazardous eruption likelier, prompting authorities to close all schools and urge residents to stay indoors.

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Bomb at pork stall in market in Thailand's south kills three, wounds 22

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A motorcycle bomb exploded in a market in Thailand's southern Yala province on Monday, killing three people and wounding 22, a spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said, the first such attack in the region in months.

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Bangladesh says Rohingya return to Myanmar is delayed

GUNGDUM, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Bangladesh said that the repatriation of Muslim Rohingya refugees to Myanmar will not happen on Tuesday as planned because arrangements were incomplete.

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Japan's Abe avoids timeline for amending pacifist constitution

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened a new session of parliament on Monday with familiar promises for economic reform and stronger defense, but steered clear of setting a timeline for his goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution.

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Vietnam jails former PetroVietnam official for life, another for 13 years

HANOI (Reuters) - A court in Vietnam sentenced one former official from state oil and gas group PetroVietnam to life in prison and another to 13 years on Monday for embezzlement and violating state rules amid a widespread corruption crackdown, state media said.

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Philippine news site head meets investigators over 'suspicious' complaint

MANILA (Reuters) - The head of a Philippine news site ordered closed for ownership violations met state investigators on Monday to answer what she called a "suspicious" complaint about a five-year-old story, as domestic fears grow of an impending crackdown on media.

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'Fake news' crutch used by SE Asian leaders to control media, critics charge

MANILA/BANGKOK (Reuters) - Governments across Southeast Asia have a history of using laws and the judiciary to curb press freedoms - now, they have found a handy crutch to lean on as they intensify clampdowns: U.S. President Donald Trump's "fake news" mantra.

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Japanese capital holds first North Korean missile attack drill

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo held its first missile evacuation drill on Monday with volunteers taking cover in subway stations and other underground spaces that would double as shelters for the Japanese capital in the event of a North Korean missile strike.

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Vietnam sentences former official to 13 years jail amid corruption crackdown: state media

HANOI (Reuters) - A court in Vietnam sentenced a former politburo member to 13 years in prison on Thursday for violating state regulations amid a widespread corruption crackdown, the state-run Voice of Vietnam reported.

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In Tokyo meeting, officials seek to forge ahead with TPP even as Canada wavers

TOKYO (Reuters) - As trade officials gather in Tokyo this week to try and forge ahead with a trade pact that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned last year, the new 11-member club risks getting bogged down by resistance from Canada.

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Charity to provide military survivor benefits during shutdown

A Maryland-based charity has promised to ensure the families of fallen troops will be paid survivor benefits during the government shutdown.

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Retired general: What really happens in the military during a shutdown

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Landslide pushes Colombian bus into ravine, killing at least 13

BOGOTA (Reuters) - At least 13 people, including a newborn, were killed on Sunday when a landslide pushed a bus into a ravine in southwest Colombia, the disaster relief agency said.

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Bomb in market in Thailand's south kills three, wounds 18: security official

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A motorcycle bomb exploded in a market in Thailand's southern Yala province on Monday, killing three people and wounding 18, a spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said.

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Train hits barrier in Sydney, at least 15 hurt: Australian ambulance official

SYDNEY (Reuters) - At least 15 people were injured on Monday when a train crashed into a barrier in the northwest of Sydney, Australia's largest city, and were being treated by emergency services personnel, an ambulance spokesman said.

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Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 billion in Yemen aid, expand port capacity

RIYADH (Reuters) - A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would commit $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid for Yemen where it is supporting the internationally recognized government against Iran-aligned Houthis in a three-year-old civil war.

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Merkel readies for intense German coalition talks after tight SPD vote

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives start preparing for formal coalition talks with the Social Democrats (SPD) on Monday, wasting no time after the center-left party narrowly voted to go ahead following months of political deadlock.

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Pope ends Latin American trip with warning about political corruption

LIMA (Reuters) - Pope Francis celebrated an open air Mass for more than 1 million people on Sunday, ending a trip to Chile and Peru marked by tough talk on political corruption but a backlash over what many see as his insufficient resolve to tackle sexual abuse in the Church.

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Mexico senator quits party to join leftist presidential frontrunner

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican opposition Senator Gabriela Cuevas on Sunday said she will leave the center-right National Action Party (PAN) to join the campaign of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who leads polls ahead of July's presidential election.

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Protesters demanding jobs clash with police in Tunisian town

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators demanding jobs in the southern town of Metlaoui on Sunday, witnesses said, days after violent protests across the country against price hikes subsided.

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Guatemala businessman, wanted on graft charges, seeks U.S. asylum

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Former Guatemalan presidential candidate Manuel Baldizon, who is wanted on graft charges, has sought asylum in the United States after he was detained while trying to enter without a visa, authorities in the Central American nation said.

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Pope warns Latin America about corruption, mentions Odebrecht

LIMA (Reuters) - Pope Francis wrapped up his trip to Chile and Peru on Sunday by warning that Latin America was in a deep crisis from corruption, with politics in most countries "more sick than well."

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With 25,339 murders in 2017, Mexico suffers record homicide tally

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - There were more than 25,000 murders across drug-ravaged Mexico in 2017, the highest annual tally since modern records began, government data showed.

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Congolese security forces kill six while dispersing anti-Kabila protest

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congolese security forces shot dead at least six people and fired tear gas to disperse a banned protest against President Joseph Kabila organized by the Catholic church on Sunday, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country said.

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Colombian negotiator returning to Ecuador for talks with ELN rebels

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The Colombian government's head negotiator at peace talks with the ELN rebel group will return to Ecuador to seek a new ceasefire, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Sunday, after being recalled to Bogota following a surge in guerrilla attacks.

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Vice President Pence arrives in Israel

BEN-GURION AIRPORT, Israel (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence began a visit to Israel on Sunday after being praised as a "great friend" by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and shunned by the Palestinians over U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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Pope brings down the house, joking with cloistered nuns

LIMA (Reuters) - Pope Francis brought down the house, or more precisely the church, on Sunday when he addressed cloistered nuns who were given special permission to leave their convents to see him.

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Greeks rally against use of "Macedonia" in name dispute with Skopje

THESSALONIKI, Greece (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in the northern city of Thessaloniki rallied on Sunday to protest against the use of the name "Macedonia" in any solution to a row between Athens and Skopje over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

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Spain to seek ex-Catalan leader's arrest if travels to Denmark

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's state prosecution service said on Sunday it would seek the arrest of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont if he traveled from Belgium to Denmark on Monday to attend a debate he is billed to host.

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German SPD votes to pursue coalition talks with Merkel

BONN (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) voted on Sunday to begin formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, moving Europe's economic powerhouse one step closer to a stable government after months of political uncertainty.

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Guatemala businessman to face graft charges after U.S. deportation

(Reuters) - Former Guatemalan presidential candidate Manuel Baldizon was detained while trying to enter the United States without a visa and is awaiting deportation, the Central American nation's prosecutor's office said on Sunday, adding he would face graft charges upon his return.

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Spurned by Trump, Europeans ponder how to meet Iran ultimatum

PARIS/BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A day before Donald Trump's Jan. 12 ultimatum to "fix" the Iran nuclear deal, European powers met Iran's foreign minister to show support for it, but the effort failed to soften Trump's aversion to the accord, U.S. and European officials said.

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Jordan's king tells Pence U.S. must rebuild trust after Jerusalem decision

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah told U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday he looked to Washington to rebuild "trust and confidence" in moving towards a two-state solution in Israel after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the country's capital.

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Mines still claim legs and lives in Libya's Benghazi, months after war ceased

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - As military deminers warily picked their way through streets wrecked by war in Benghazi, a loud blast rang out - a familiar sound in the Libyan city, areas of which are riddled with deadly explosives and booby traps.

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Kremlin: no talks yet about any new Putin-Trump meeting: RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - There are no talks yet about any potential new meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying on Sunday by state run RIA news agency.

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Iran's Rouhani says wants to improve ties with Iraqi Kurds

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday called for boosting relations with the Iraqi Kurdish region as part of a united Iraq, Iranian media reported, after ties were strained over an independence referendum in the area last year.

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Audi ordered to recall 127,000 vehicles over emissions: paper

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's KBA automotive watchdog has detected illicit emission-control software in Audi's latest Euro-6 diesel models and has ordered a recall of 127,000 vehicles, Bild am Sonntag reported.

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Iraq's supreme court rules against election delay

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Supreme Federal Court on Sunday ruled against calls by Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers to delay a parliamentary election, expected to be called for May, to allow hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war to return home.

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Audi ordered to recall 127,000 vehicles over emissions -paper

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's KBA automotive watchdog has detected illicit emission-control software in Audi's latest Euro-6 diesel models and has ordered a recall of 127,000 vehicles, Bild am Sonntag reported.

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Turkish forces push into Syria, Kurdish militia says attacks repulsed

AZAZ, Syria (Reuters) - Turkish ground forces pushed into northern Syria's Afrin province on Sunday, the army said, after Turkey launched artillery and air strikes on a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.

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Turkish military enters Syrian city after days of airstrikes

Turkey launched a ground operation across the border into northern Syria on Sunday, in a move likely to raise tensions with the United States.

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Merkel, Macron to deepen Franco-German cooperation, strengthen EU

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday they wanted to deepen Franco-German cooperation and give the European Union a fresh push towards closer integration.

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Jordan's king says East Jerusalem must be capital of Palestinian state

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah expressed concern on Sunday over a decision by Washington to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and said the only solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict was a two-state one.

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Turkey says ground forces push into Syria, Kurdish militia says attack repulsed

AZAZ, Syria (Reuters) - Turkish ground forces pushed into northern Syria's Afrin province on Sunday, media cited the prime minister as saying, as Ankara stepped up artillery attacks on a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.

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At least five dead in attack on Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel

KABUL (Reuters) - Gunmen dressed in army uniforms who stormed Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel battled Afghan Special Forces for 13 hours in an overnight siege that left at least five people dead, officials and witnesses said on Sunday.

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Europe readies riposte to Trump's 'America First' push in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - European leaders will be out in force at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week to defend multilateralism before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver his "America First" message.

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Somali president sacks Mogadishu mayor, names replacement

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi sacked the mayor of the capital Mogadishu and appointed his information minister to replace him on Sunday.

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Turkish army says has hit 153 targets so far in northern Syrian operation

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Turkish military has so far hit 153 Kurdish militant targets in its operation in northern Syria's Afrin region, the army said in a statement on Sunday.

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Russia's Lavrov, U.S.' Tillerson discuss north Syria situation

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the Syrian conflict in a telephone call, in particular ways to bring stability to the country's north, the Russian foreign ministry said on Sunday.

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Rockets from Syria hit Turkish border town: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Four rockets fired from Syria hit the Turkish southern border town of Kilis early on Sunday damaging houses, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

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Kabul Intercontinental Hotel siege ends, all gunmen killed: government

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan Special Forces ended an overnight siege at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel on Sunday, killing the last surviving attacker, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.

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Afghan Special Forces battle to regain control of Kabul hotel

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan Special Forces moved through Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel floor by floor on Sunday fighting the surviving gunmen who attacked the hotel a day earlier, seizing hostages and staging an overnight siege.

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Migrants stuck in Serbia want to move on

BELGRADE (Reuters) - After traversing several countries en route to the rich West, Najibullah, a former policeman from the Afghan town of Kholm, his pregnant wife and four children, got stuck in Serbia.

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Several dead as gunmen attack top Kabul hotel

KABUL (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday, seizing hostages and exchanging gunfire with security forces as the building in the Afghan capital caught fire and residents and staff fled.

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Tunisian forces kill top aide of Al Qaeda leader in Maghreb: official

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian security forces have killed a top aide of Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an official source told Reuters on Saturday.

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China says U.S. warship violated its South China Sea sovereignty

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near a disputed shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea this week, U.S. officials said on Saturday, and Beijing vowed to take "necessary measures" to protect its sovereignty.

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Several dead as gunmen attack top Kabul hotel, take hostages

KABUL (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday, seizing hostages and exchanging gunfire with security forces as the building in the Afghan capital caught fire and residents and staff fled.

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Tens of thousands of Romanians brave snow for corruption protest

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Romanians marched through heavy snow in Bucharest on Saturday in protest against corruption and attempts by the ruling Social Democrats to weaken judicial independence.

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Two dead, several hurt in Prague hotel fire

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Two people died and nine were injured in a fire at a hotel in the center of Prague on Saturday night, fire and rescue officials said.

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Gunmen attack Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, take hostages, deaths reported

KABUL (Reuters) - A group of as many as four gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday night, seizing hostages and exchanging gunfire with security forces as the building caught fire and residents and staff fled.

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Vowing anti-graft revolution, Mexican governor shakes election

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico (Reuters) - Invoking Pancho Villa's revolutionary legacy and armed with a hard-hitting corruption investigation into the country's ruling party, the governor of border state Chihuahua is shaking up Mexico's presidential election, without being in the race.

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Pence tells Egypt's Sisi that U.S. still backs two-state solution

CAIRO (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday told Egypt’s leader the United States would support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians if the two sides agreed, seeking to reassure a key Arab ally over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Gunmen attack Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, take hostages

KABUL (Reuters) - A group of as many as four gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday night, seizing hostages and exchanging fire with security forces as the building caught fire and residents and staff fled.

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Honduran security forces battle protesters as election chaos lingers

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran soldiers and police clashed with protesters blocking roads across the Central American country on Saturday, as discontent continues to fester nearly two months after a disputed presidential election.

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Comoros says abuse of passports-for-cash scheme worries Gulf allies

MORONI (Reuters) - Comoros has sold citizenship to nearly 52,000 foreigners since 2009, the government said in the first official statement on the scale of a passports-for-cash deal with Gulf states.

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Gunmen attack Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel

KABUL (Reuters) - A group of as many as four gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul and were exchanging fire with security forces on Saturday as residents and staff fled.

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South Africa's ANC to force Zuma to quit as president: reports

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Leaders of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC)met on Saturday to outline the party's program for the coming year amid reports that its executive planned to force Jacob Zuma to quit as the country's president.

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Pence starts Middle East tour in Egypt, pledges 'shoulder-to-shoulder' support

CAIRO (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence kicked off a trip to the Middle East on Saturday with a visit to Egypt, where he pledged firm U.S. backing to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the nation's fight against militants.

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Merkel welcomes EU-Turkey meeting to improve ties

SOFIA (Reuters) - Germany's Angela Merkel welcomed on Saturday a Bulgarian plan to host a European Union-Turkey working meeting to try to improve strained ties and clear the ground for an eventual possible summit.

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Fire at a warehouse near India's capital kills 17 people

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Seventeen people died after a fire broke out at a warehouse in an industrial area on the outskirts of India's capital on Sunday, a fire official said.

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Gunmen attack Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel: Afghan official

KABUL (Reuters) - A group of three or four gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday and were exchanging fire with security forces, an interior ministry spokesman said.

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Pope urges hope in visit to Peru area devastated by floods

TRUJILLO, Peru (Reuters) - Pope Francis, visiting an area of Peru that was devastated last year by heavy rains linked to climate change and plagued by gang violence, urged people not to lose hope.

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Turkey air strikes hit Syria's Afrin province in push to secure borders

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish warplanes struck positions of a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin province on Saturday, a senior Turkish official said, in a move likely to drive a deeper wedge between Ankara and the United States.

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Philippine troops fight first clash with militants since Marawi battle, six wounded

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine troops clashed briefly with pro-Islamic State militants in the volatile south on Saturday, the army said, in their first engagement since the government retook Marawi city in the country's biggest battle since World War Two.

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Russian, U.S. army chiefs discussed Syria by phone - RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Chief of the General Staff of the armed forces Valery Gerasimov and his U.S. counterpart Joseph Dunford have discussed the situation in Syria by phone, RIA news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.

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Turkish military operation in Syria's Afrin has begun: Erdogan

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday a military operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region had begun after cross-border shelling by the Turkish army.

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Germany weighs new sanctions against Iran: report

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is lobbying among European allies to agree new sanctions against Iran in an attempt to prevent U.S. President Donald Trump from terminating an international deal curbing Tehran's nuclear program, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Saturday.

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German SPD leaders upbeat as biggest branch backs coalition talks

BERLIN (Reuters) - Senior members of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) said on Saturday they were confident the party would approve the start of formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives at a special congress.

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Turkish military operation in Syria's Afrin has begun - Erdogan

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday a military operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region had begun after cross-border shelling by the Turkish army.

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Iraqi PM Abadi meets Kurdistan region PM Barzani: Kurdish official

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met on Saturday in Baghdad with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, a Kurdish official said.

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Iraqi parliament postpones vote on election date

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament failed on Saturday to approve May 12 as the election date, as suggested by the government, as Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers demanded a delay to allow hundreds of thousands of war-displaced people to return home.

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Military operation in Syria's Afrin has started, Erdogan says

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday a military operation in Syria's Afrin has begun on the ground and another operation in nearby Manbij would follow.

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Yemen's Houthis fire ballistic missile toward Saudi Arabia

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen's Houthi movement fired a ballistic missile toward the southern Saudi province of Najran on Saturday, the group's official al-Masirah TV reported, and a Saudi military spokesman said air defense forces had intercepted the missile.

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McDonald to succeed Adams as Sinn Fein leader

BELFAST (Reuters) - Mary Lou McDonald will succeed Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein leader, the party said on Saturday, completing a generational shift for the Irish nationalist party.

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Russia, U.S. likely to discuss North Korea in Moscow: Minister to TASS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Diplomats from Russia and the United States are likely to hold their next round of consultations on North Korea in Moscow on a date yet to be decided, TASS news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov as saying on Saturday.

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South Africa's ANC to force Zuma to quit as president: eNCA TV

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Saturday it would work for close coordination between the party and the government, declining to comment on a report its executive planned to force Jacob Zuma to step down as president.

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China accuses U.S. warship of violating its sovereignty

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's foreign ministry has accused a U.S. warship of entering its territorial waters without permission and said it would take "necessary measures" to ensure its sovereignty is protected.

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Cambodia's detained opposition leader rejects new opposition movement

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's detained opposition leader Kem Sokha has declined to join a new movement, founded by prominent exiles following a ban on the main opposition party, his lawyer said on Saturday.

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Canceled North Korean visit to prep for Olympics 'not permanent': South Korea ministry

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Unification Ministry said on Saturday that the sudden cancellation of a North Korean delegation's planned visit to the South to prepare for the North's art troupe during the Winter Olympics was "not a permanent cancellation".

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Hundreds of police in Thailand block anti-junta march

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Hundreds of police in Thailand on Saturday blocked protestors planning to march from Bangkok to Khon Kaen in the northeast of the country in a rare display of public discontent in the junta-ruled country.

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Cuba, U.S. hold talks on law enforcement despite tensions

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban and U.S. officials concluded on Friday a week of talks on law enforcement cooperation in Washington with a meeting on the combat against illicit drug trafficking, at a time of heightened tensions between the old Cold War foes.

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Mexico ruling party hopeful proposes graft law to boost election campaign

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Struggling to kick-start his campaign and clean up the image of the graft-stained ruling party he hopes to lead to election victory, Mexican presidential hopeful Jose Antonio Meade on Friday proposed tougher anti-corruption legislation.

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Egypt's Sisi to run for second term in March election

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday he will run for a second term in office in an election in March, which the former military commander is widely expected to win.

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U.S. charges Honduran congressman with drug trafficking conspiracy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal authorities announced drug trafficking and weapons charges against a congressman from Honduras on Friday, the latest U.S. case accusing current and former officials of the Central American country of involvement in the drug trade.

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Mattis: Shutdown will have a 'terrible impact' on military

Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Friday that a government shutdown will have "a terrible" impact on the US military, just hours before a deadline for the Senate to pass a bill to keep the government open. However, he made clear that the military would continue to function and perform critical missions despite a shutdown.

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Failure to launch: Egypt opposition hits roadblock on path to presidency

CAIRO (Reuters) - Six months into laying the groundwork for his presidential bid, Egyptian hopeful Mohamed Anwar Sadat hit a snag: he could not find a hotel prepared to hire him a space to launch his campaign.

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Egypt's Sisi announces intention to run for second term

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced on Friday his intention to run for a second term in office in a March election.

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U.S. trying to form 'alternative bodies of authority' in Syria: Russia's Lavrov

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that the United States, despite denying setting up local forces in northern Syria, is trying to form "alternative bodies of authority" that contradict a commitment to Syrian territorial integrity.

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Merkel upbeat SPD will approve talks with her conservatives

PARIS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday she was optimistic that Social Democrats (SPD) would approve the start of formal coalition talks with her conservatives at a special party congress this weekend.

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U.S. funding hold will hurt U.N. effort to help Palestinian refugees: Russia's Lavrov

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a U.N. news conference on Friday that the U.S. decision to withhold funds for a U.N. agency that assists Palestinians would seriously undermine efforts to meet the needs of refugees.

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Iran nuclear deal cannot survive if U.S. pulls out: Russia's Lavrov

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday the Iran nuclear deal cannot survive if the United States pulls out the agreement.

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Ex-Honduran minister gets nearly two-and-a-half years prison in U.S. drug case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former member of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez's cabinet was sentenced by a New York federal judge to nearly 2-1/2 years in prison on Friday, after pleading guilty to attempting to launder drug money from the Central American country.

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U.S. military puts 'great power competition' at heart of strategy: Mattis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has put countering China and Russia at the center of a new national defense strategy unveiled on Friday, the latest sign of shifting American priorities after more than a decade and a half of focusing on the fight against Islamist militants.

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French police clash with prison guards in protest over jail conditions

PARIS (Reuters) - French riot police clashed on Friday with striking prison guards who accuse the government of doing little to counter spiraling violence and Islamist activism inside the country's overcrowded jails.

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Syrians freeze to death crossing mountains into Lebanon

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Nine Syrians froze to death crossing into Lebanon when an icy storm hit a smuggling route in the mountains near a border post with Syria, the Lebanese Army said on Friday.

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Slowly, Germany begins to ponder life after Merkel

BERLIN (Reuters) - She has not faced a credible challenge to her rule as German chancellor for more than 12 years. Now, members of Angela Merkel's conservatives are starting to look ahead to potential alternatives to lead their party and country.

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German election would further harm SPD, Schulz warns

BERLIN (Reuters) - The leader of Germany's Social Democrats on Friday urged members of his center-left party to endorse coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives or risk facing new elections that could further damage the party.

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Could Taliban finally return to Afghan peace talks? Obstacles abound

KABUL (Reuters) - Exploratory meetings in Pakistan between a high-level Taliban delegation and a representative of a prominent Afghan politician have fueled speculation of a revival of long-stalled talks on ending Afghanistan's 16-year war that kills thousands each year.

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Far from home, Mexican migrants eager to influence presidential race

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Tijuana native Alma Martinez will cast her first-ever vote for a Mexican president this July, but from across the country's northern border, where she is among hundreds of thousands of co-nationals whose participation could be decisive in a close race.

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1.3 million children displaced by Iraq's war with Islamic State: UNICEF

GENEVA (Reuters) - About half the 2.6 million people displaced in Iraq after a three-year war with Islamic State militants are children and persisting violence hampers efforts to ease their suffering, the United Nations said on Friday.

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Turkey shells Syria's Afrin region, minister says operation has begun

SUGEDIGI, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish artillery fired into Syria's Afrin region on Friday in what Ankara said was the start of a military campaign against the Kurdish-controlled area.

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Trump says Dems 'want illegal immigration and weak borders'

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to express his displeasure with Senate Democrats with hours to go before the government potentially shuts down.

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Czech lower house votes to lift immunity of prime minister

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech lower house voted on Friday to allow prosecution of Prime Minister Andrej Babis in a case of alleged EU subsidy fraud, which has blocked his attempts at creating a government.

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Merkel and Macron look to turn warm ties into reform goals

PARIS (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron will spend more than five hours together in Paris on Friday, putting on a show of Franco-German unity as they try to agree on reforms to the euro zone.

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France says no for now to Johnson's idea of giant Channel bridge

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - France on Friday politely rejected Boris Johnson's idea of building a giant bridge across the English Channel after Brexit, saying that, while far-fetched ideas were worth considering, there were plenty of major European projects to finish first.

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Sweden's government, Left party propose profit cap on welfare companies

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's center-left government and the Left Party has agreed to put forward a bill for a profit cap on private schools and care homes funded by taxpayers, they said on Friday.

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China to enshrine Xi's thought into state constitution amid national 'fervor'

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party will enshrine President Xi Jinping's political thought into the country's constitution, state media said on Friday, further solidifying his power following its addition last year to the party constitution.

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Somali authorities say troops rescue 32 children from 'terrorist school'

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali authorities said troops stormed a school run by al Shabaab on Thursday night and rescued 32 children who had been taken as recruits by the Islamist militant group.

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Desperate Cubans seek U.S. visas in Colombia after Havana embassy cutbacks

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban actress Aniet Hernandez lost all hope that she and her two children would ever join her husband in Miami when the Trump administration slashed staffing at the U.S. embassy in Havana in September and stopped almost all visa processing.

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China to enshrine Xi's thought into state constitution

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party will enshrine President Xi Jinping's political thought into the country's constitution, state media said on Friday, further solidifying his power following its addition last year to the party constitution.

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Turkish shelling marks start of Afrin operation, minister says

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region has "de facto" begun with cross-border shelling, Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday.

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Russian student injures six in an ax attack at his school

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian teenager attacked a group of younger students with an ax, injuring six people, before setting his school on fire, investigators said on Friday.

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Turkish minister says military operation in Syria's Afrin should happen without delay

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday that a military operation in Syria's Afrin region should be carried out without delay and that Ankara and Moscow would continue talks about Turkey's planned military action.

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Serbia on course for EU by 2025, top EU official says

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Serbia and Montenegro are likely be the next countries to join the European Union, possibly by 2025, the bloc's official in charge of membership bids said in an interview.

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Taiwan stymies new China flights amid route row, official says

TAIPEI/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Taiwan's aviation regulator has stalled applications for new flights from China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines amid a row between Beijing and the self-ruled island over air routes, a regulatory official said on Friday.

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Let's build a bridge to Europe after we Brexit, Britain's Boris Johnson suggests

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's most prominent campaigner for leaving the European Union, Boris Johnson, has suggested building a giant bridge across the English Channel to France after Brexit, The Daily Telegraph reported.

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N. Korea plans pre-Olympics military parade, diplomats say

The Winter Olympics opening ceremony may not be the only parade North Korea is planning on participating in next month.

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Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey would reject any offer of partnership with the European Union that falls short of membership, Ankara's minister for EU affairs said, warning that the current situation gave Turkey no reason to maintain its migrant deal with the bloc.

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Taiwan stymies new China flights amid route row: official

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's aviation regulator has not approved applications from China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines to increase flights during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, an official with the regulator told Reuters.

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Russia's Constitutional Court rejects Putin critic Navalny's election complaint: RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Constitutional Court has refused to review a complaint from opposition leader Alexei Navalny over a ban on him running in a March presidential election citing legal problems with it, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.

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North Korea may hold military parade on eve of Olympics, analysts say

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea may be preparing to hold a military parade on the eve of next month's winter Olympics in South Korea, analysts and diplomats say, even as the two countries have sought to mend ties.

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Russia's Putin takes dip in icy lake to mark Orthodox Epiphany

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped off to his bathing trunks and immersed himself in the freezing waters of a lake late on Thursday, observing an Orthodox Christian ritual to mark the feast of Epiphany.

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Duterte says may ban sending Filipinos to work in Kuwait due to abuses

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is considering banning workers being sent to Kuwait because of abuses he said were being inflicted on Filipino domestic helpers there and which led to several committing suicide in recent months.

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China detains rights lawyer critical of President Xi Jinping: wife

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing authorities on Friday took outspoken rights lawyer Yu Wensheng into custody as he was taking his child to school, his wife told Reuters, days after Yu said he was stripped of his legal license for criticizing President Xi Jinping.

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Japan criticizes U.S. for military flights over school in Okinawa

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan criticized the U.S. military on Friday for breaking a pledge to avoid flying helicopters over a school next to its base in Okinawa, a rare flash of discord with Tokyo's main ally.

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South Korea President Moon's approval rating drops on Olympics furor

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in's approval rating has fallen to a four-month low, a poll showed on Friday, after a public backlash over a decision for South and North Korea to field a joint ice hockey team at next month's Winter Olympics.

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Car plows through Copacabana sidewalk, kills baby, injures 15

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A speeding car plowed through evening strollers on a crowded sidewalk of Rio's famed Copacabana beach on Thursday in an apparent accident, killing an 8-month old baby and injuring 15 people, police said.

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U.S. won't pay $45 million pledged for Palestinian food aid for now

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will not provide $45 million in food aid for Palestinians that it pledged last month as part of the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal led by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

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African U.N. envoys suggest Trump meet leaders in Ethiopia after 'shithole' remark

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - African U.N. envoys suggested on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump meet with African leaders in Ethiopia this month after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from "shithole" countries.

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New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern pregnant with first child

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday she was pregnant with her first child, and planned to take a short break after the birth in June.

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New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announces she is pregnant with first child

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that she was pregnant with her first child, which was due in June.

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Sudanese authorities detain Reuters, AFP reporters in Khartoum

CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudanese authorities have detained a Reuters stringer and an AFP reporter who were covering protests in the capital Khartoum, the external information council, which deals with foreign media organizations, said.

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Pope lands in Peru as president seeks help in political crisis

LIMA (Reuters) - Pope Francis arrived in Peru on Thursday, as the Andean nation's president appealed to him to help put the country back on track after a political crisis nearly ousted him from office a month ago.

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Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett killed in U.S. helicopter crash

(Reuters) - Exiled Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett and four other people were killed in a helicopter crash in a remote northern part of the U.S. state of New Mexico, officials and his political party said on Thursday.

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Jordan says Israel apologizes for deaths of two Jordanians at embassy

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan said on Thursday that Israel had formally apologized for the deaths of two of its citizens killed by an Israeli security guard last July in an incident that soured ties and led to the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman, state media said.

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Turkey seeks Russian approval for air campaign against Afrin

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey dispatched its military chief to Moscow on Thursday, seeking approval for an air campaign in Syria's Kurdish-controlled Afrin region, although Damascus warned it could shoot down any Turkish planes in its skies.

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'Be my guest': France's Macron spells out reasons for Britain to stay in EU

SANDHURST, England (Reuters) - "Be my guest," French President Emmanuel Macron told Britain on Thursday, saying he would welcome any move by Prime Minister Theresa May to stay in the European Union's single market.

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France to launch international group targeting toxic gas attacks

UNITED NATIONS/PARIS (Reuters) - France has asked some 30 countries to work together to preserve evidence of chemical weapons attacks and impose sanctions on those responsible after Russia ended an international inquiry into who is to blame for using toxic gas in Syria.

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U.S. urges Turkey to remain focused on Islamic State, not attack Syria's Afrin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department urged Turkey on Thursday not to take military action against Afrin region in Syria and called instead for Ankara to remain focused on fighting Islamic State militants in the region.

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Turkey detains five activists, including husband of freed German journalist: party

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish police on Thursday detained at least five members of two leftist parties, including the husband of German journalist Mesale Tolu, who was freed from prison last month, the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) said on social media.

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Jordan says Israel apologizes for killing of two Jordanians in embassy incident

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan said on Thursday that Israel had formally apologized for the deaths of two of its citizens killed by an Israeli security guard last July in an incident that has soured ties and led to the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman, state media said.

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Zimbabwe fires more than 30 police commanders: state-owned Herald newspaper

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has fired more than 30 senior police commanders as part of a process to clean up the image of the force, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported in its online edition on Thursday quoting unnamed police sources.

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Jordan says Israel apologizes for killing of two Jordanians in embassy incident: government spokesman

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan said on Thursday that Israel has formally apologized for the deaths of two of its citizens killed by an Israeli security guard last July in an incident that has soured ties and led to the closure of the Israeli embassy in Amman, state media said.

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Russia accuses Washington of leaking diplomats' bank details

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's foreign ministry on Thursday accused U.S. officials of leaking to the media confidential financial details of Russian diplomats working in the United States, and demanded that those responsible be punished.

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EU keen to avoid a fight with Warsaw but will want real concessions

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A new charm offensive should buy Poland time in its confrontation with the EU over backsliding on democracy, but Warsaw will have to make some real policy changes to match the warmer words or risk losing some funds from the bloc.

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Macedonia told to resolve Greece dispute and implement reforms to join NATO

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Macedonia's must resolve a decades-long dispute over its name, implement judicial reform and build good relations with neighboring countries to join NATO, the Western military alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

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Venezuela talks off in row over fugitive ex-policeman's death

CARACAS (Reuters) - Talks between Venezuela's government and the opposition coalition foundered on Thursday after the opposition denied providing information that led to the death of a rogue former policeman and six other anti-government militants.

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Mexico rejects Trump claim it world's most dangerous country

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico on Thursday dismissed a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that it was the most dangerous country in the world and reiterated it would not fund the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border.

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Shutting out immigrants is not Christian, pope says

IQUIQUE, Chile (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Thursday that it is not Christian to shut out immigrants, urging nations to welcome people whose lives had been "watered down" by poverty, injustice and exploitation.

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Trump: 'Worst thing' about shutdown would be effect on military

President Donald Trump told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday that he the worst results of a possible government shutdown would be the impact on the US military.

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Train crashes in Mexico City suburb, killing at least five

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A train derailed in a densely populated Mexico City suburb on Thursday morning, killing at least five people, local authorities said.

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Italy's Berlusconi says he is ready to be premier if European court lifts ban

ROME (Reuters) - Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday he was ready to lead Italy again if the European Court of Human Rights scrapped a ban on him holding public office.

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Suspected Boko Haram attack in Niger kills at least four soldiers

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Suspected Boko Haram fighters have killed at least four soldiers and a civilian in an attack on a military post in Niger's southeastern Diffa region, local officials and two security sources said on Thursday.

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Train crashes in Mexico City suburb, killing at least 5

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A train derailed in a densely populated Mexico City suburb on Thursday morning, killing at least five people, local authorities said.

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HRW says Trump is 'disaster' for human rights, fuels authoritarians

PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's record on human rights in his first year in office has been a "disaster" and has encouraged oppression by authoritarian leaders from China to Russia, the head of Human Rights Watch said in an interview on Wednesday.

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China is a disruptive force, U.S. Pacific military chief says

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. military's Pacific command called China a disruptive power in the Indo-Pacific region on Thursday and urged countries in the area to build capabilities and work together to ensure free and open seas.

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Egypt, Ethiopia leaders say Nile dam must not ruin relations

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged on Thursday not to let differences over a dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile river ruin relations with Addis Ababa.

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Trump contradicts top aide, says border wall stance has not 'evolved'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said his concept of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico "has never changed or evolved," contradicting comments made by his chief of staff.

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Russian police search St Petersburg HQ of opposition leader Navalny

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police searched the campaign headquarters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St Petersburg on Thursday ahead of a presidential election on March 18, a video feed streamed live to the Internet by Navalny's supporters showed.

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EU offers Swiss leeway on settling disputes: sources

ZURICH (Reuters) - The European Union has proposed letting a special arbitration court settle some disputes under a new treaty it is trying to strike with neutral Switzerland, sources involved in the discussion said.

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Pope's help sought in Peru on Incan temple taken during conquest

LIMA (Reuters) - In his 2015 trip to Bolivia, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the "grave sins" committed against native people in the Americas in the name of the Catholic Church.

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Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa announces election in four to five months

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will hold elections in four to five months, a newspaper on Thursday quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying, the first time since independence the southern African state will conduct a vote that does not involve Robert Mugabe.

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Trump Denies Changing His Position on Border Wall

In an early morning tweet, President Trump contradicted his chief of staff and said his position on building a wall between the United States and Mexico had not “evolved.”

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Trump tweets his views on border wall haven't changed after Kelly says they have

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday that he has remained consistent in his plans for a border wall, a day after his chief of staff, John Kelly, said he has "changed his attitude" on it.

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Nigeria's Buhari says doesn't know if he will seek re-election

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday he does not know if he will seek re-election in 2019 and the decision is personal and also for Nigerians.

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More Rohingya flee Myanmar as Bangladesh prepares to start repatriation

TEKNAF, Bangladesh (Reuters) - More than 100 Rohingya Muslims have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since Wednesday, with the latest refugees saying army operations are continuing in troubled Rakhine State, raising doubts about plans to send back 655,500 who had already fled.

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Trump says border wall stance has not 'evolved,' Mexico will pay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his proposed wall along the U.S. southern border, saying his position "has never changed or evolved," and that Mexico would pay for the barrier "directly, or indirectly."

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Philippines' Duterte urges Congress to pass bill for self-rule in Muslim region

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday urged Congress to pass a bill granting self-rule to the country's Muslim minority, warning that its collapse would see separatist rebels abandon a peace process and declare war again.

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Nigeria's Buhari doesn't know if he will seek re-election: radio interview

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday he does not know if he will seek re-election in 2019.

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Gunmen in Pakistan kill two women working to eradicate polio

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Gunmen in Pakistan shot and killed two women working on a polio eradication campaign on Thursday, the latest in a string of attacks on efforts to protect children from the crippling and sometimes deadly disease.

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Amsterdam's Schiphol scraps all flights due to storm

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - All flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport were canceled on Thursday due to a severe storm, as gusts of up to 140 kph (90 mph) blew down trees and damaged buildings.

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Czech PM Babis, wary of who becomes president, rushes to form new government

PRAGUE (Reuters) - New Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is rushing to form a new government, possibly by the end of February, before a new presidential term begins.

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Israeli commandos kill Palestinian gunman blamed for West Bank ambush

JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli police killed a Palestinian gunman and captured another in a clash in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, saying they were part of a cell responsible for an ambush in which a Jewish settler was shot dead.

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Bus fire kills 52 Uzbeks traveling in Kazakhstan: Kazakh government

ALMATY (Reuters) - A bus fire in north-western Kazakhstan killed 52 Uzbek citizens on a route used by migrant workers heading to Russia, the Kazakh Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

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Hong Kong pro-independence protest leader appears in court for 'rioting'

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A young protest leader calling for Hong Kong's independence from China appeared in court on the rare charge of rioting on Thursday as two co-defendants failed to show up, the latest case highlighting a new generation of opposition to Chinese rule.

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UPDATE 1-Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi declares force majeure after border protests

ULAANBAATAR, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia's southern Gobi Desert declared force majeure after protests by Chinese coal haulers disrupted deliveries near the border, majority owner Turquoise Hill said Wednesday.

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After Trump denial, Netanyahu clarifies remarks on timeframe for U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a step back on Thursday from comments, challenged by U.S. President Donald Trump, that envisioned a one-year timeframe for the planned relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

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Survey shows Filipinos more satisfied with Duterte government than any other

MANILA (Reuters) - Public satisfaction with the performance of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's government rose in December to the highest level on record since one of the country's top pollsters started conducting opinion surveys in 1980s.

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Cambodia's Hun Sen appoints son-in-law to senior police post

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has appointed his son-in-law as deputy national police chief, in a move apparently aimed at consolidating his power ahead of an election this year.

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South Africa's Ramaphosa talks tough on state graft, signals departure from Zuma

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday welcomed moves taken by prosecutors against companies accused of corruption and said the ruling party would impose the policy certainty needed to attract investment to the country.

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Bus catches fire in Kazakhstan, killing 52 Uzbeks: Kazakh Interior Ministry

ALMATY (Reuters) - A bus caught fire in a remote part of Kazakhstan on Thursday, killing 52 citizens of neighboring Uzbekistan, the Kazakh Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

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Bus catches fire in Kazakhstan, killing 52: Interior Ministry

ALMATY (Reuters) - Fifty-two people were killed after a bus they were traveling in caught fire in Kazakhstan's north-western Aktau region, the country's interior ministry said on Thursday.

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Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa says to hold elections in four to five months

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will hold elections in four to five months, a newspaper on Thursday quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying, the first time since independence the southern African state will conduct a vote that does not involve former ruler Robert Mugabe.

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Russia starts shipping S-400 air defense missile system to China: TASS cites source

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has started delivering its S-400 surface-to-air missile system to China under the terms of a contract signed in 2014, the TASS news agency cited an unnamed source in the Russian military-industrial complex as saying on Thursday.

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Tillerson to visit London, hopes to visit new embassy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday he would make a one-day visit to Britain next week where he hoped to visit the new U.S. embassy.

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Turkey says could act in Syria unless U.S. withdraws support for Kurdish force

HATAY, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkey said on Wednesday it would not hesitate to take action in Syria's Afrin district and other areas unless the United States withdrew support for a Kurdish-led force there, but Washington denied such plans and said "some people misspoke".

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Tillerson says U.S. has no intention to build border force in Syria

ABOARD U.S. GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday denied that the United States had any intention to build a Syria-Turkey border force, saying the issue, which has incensed Ankara, had been "misportrayed."