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Rep. Blake Farenthold won't seek re-election, source says

Rep. Blake Farenthold, who's under fire for accusations of sexual harassment, is not planning to run for re-election, a Republican source familiar with situation told CNN on Thursday.

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Sources: US jets intercept Russians

US F-22 stealth fighters intercepted two Russian aircraft after the Russian jets flew east of the "de-confliction line" that is supposed to separate Russian and US-led coalition aircraft operating over Syria, two US defense officials told CNN.

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U.S. military orders additional probe into August Somalia raid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of U.S. forces in Africa has ordered an additional investigation into an August raid in Somalia by Somali and American forces, the U.S military said on Thursday.

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Train collides with school bus in southern France: local townhall

PARIS (Reuters) - A train collided with a school bus outside the town of Perpignan in southern France on Thursday and emergency services were at the scene, a local official said.

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U.N. chief presses for release of arrested Reuters journalists in Myanmar

TOKYO/YANGON (Reuters) - The arrest of two Reuters journalists in Yangon this week was a signal that press freedom is shrinking in Myanmar and the international community must do all it can to get them released, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.

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Despite parliament defeat, Britain's May on course to deliver Brexit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Theresa May said on Thursday she was on course to deliver Brexit and a new partnership with the European Union, shrugging off a parliamentary defeat that could weaken her hand as the decisive phase of talks begins.

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Spotify price tag rises ahead of filing for NYSE listing: sources

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The value of music streaming service Spotify, which is planning a stock market listing, has grown around 20 percent to at least $19 billion in the past few months, outperforming U.S. and European tech indexes, sources familiar with the matter said.

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Spotify price tag rises ahead of filing for NYSE listing - sources

STOCKHOLM, Dec 14 (Reuters) - The value of music streaming service Spotify, which is planning a stock market listing, has grown around 20 percent to at least $19 billion in the past few months, outperforming U.S. and European tech indexes, sources familiar with the matter said.

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India PM Modi's party seen sweeping state polls in popularity boost

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling group will sweep an election in his home state of Gujarat, surveys showed on Thursday, shaking off the most serious challenge yet from a combined opposition.

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Italy adopts living wills allowing patients to refuse treatment

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's Senate passed into law on Thursday a bill allowing severely ill people to refuse treatment that would prolong their lives.

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Splits on Italian right buoy opponents as campaigning starts

ROME (Reuters) - The leader of Italy's far-right Northern League said on Thursday he was suspending contacts with his main political ally, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, because of a disagreement over how tough courts should be on murderers and rapists.

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Online shopping won't grow forever, says Unibail boss creating malls giant

SYDNEY/PARIS (Reuters) - Online shopping has its limits and physical stores will never go out of fashion, says the CEO of Unibail-Rodamco which is betting $16 billion on buying Westfield to create a global mall giant.

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Exclusive: U.S. suspends aid to Somalia's battered military over graft

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The United States is suspending food and fuel aid for most of Somalia's armed forces over corruption concerns, a blow to the military as African peacekeepers start to withdraw this month.

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German police raid locations linked to Islamist militants

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police investigating four people suspected of planning an Islamist-motivated attack raided nine locations in Berlin and the eastern state of Saxony Anhalt on Thursday, prosecutors said.

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BRIEF-Mineral Hill Industries Terminates Share Purchase Agreement With 12 Shareholders Of CPS Energy Resources

* MINERAL HILL INDUSTRIES - TERMINATED SHARE PURCHASE AGREEMENT WITH 12 SHAREHOLDERS OF CPS ENERGY RESOURCES DUE TO NON-COMPLIANCE WITH TERMS OF SPA Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage:

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Poland to respect EU top court ruling on Bialowieza forest logging

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland will respect the ruling of the European Union's top court on whether the government can continue logging in the primeval forest of Bialowieza that is under an EU environment protection plan, Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

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Brazil's Temer delays pension-vote talks as he recovers after surgery

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Michel Temer has postponed meetings scheduled for Thursday to discuss a crucial pension reform vote as he recovers well in hospital following minor surgery, his office said, and he will not be back on the job until Friday.

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Austria's Kurz says pro-EU stance secured in deal with far right

VIENNA (Reuters) - Coalition talks between Austria's far-right Freedom Party and conservatives led by Sebastian Kurz are in the "home straight" and have laid down guarantees that the next government will be pro-European, Kurz said on Thursday.

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Exclusive: EU regulators to clear Luxottica, Essilor deal without conditions - sources

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Italy's Luxottica and French glasses group Essilor are set to win unconditional EU antitrust approval for their 48-billion-euro ($56.8 billion), two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

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Cameroon's Anglophones flee to Nigeria as crackdown grows

IKOM, Nigeria (Reuters) - When soldiers burst into her village in southwest Cameroon last month with guns blazing, small farmer Eta Quinta, 32, raced into the forest with three of her children.

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EU's new eastern leaders stick to guns on refugees

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The new prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic vowed not to give any ground on the divisive issue of hosting refugees as they arrived in Brussels on Thursday for their first summit of European Union leaders.

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Iraq hangs 38 Sunni militants in mass execution: justice ministry

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq hanged 38 Sunni Muslim militants on Thursday after they were sentenced to death on terrorism charges, the justice ministry said in a statement.

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Austria's Kurz optimistic on coalition deal with far right by Christmas

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz said on Thursday that coalition talks with the far-right Freedom Party were in the "home straight" and a deal on forming a government should be reached by next week.

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Putin says U.S. gripped by fabricated spymania, praises Trump

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the United States was in the grip of a fabricated spymania whipped up by President Donald Trump's opponents but he thought battered U.S.-Russia relations would recover one day.

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Lebanon approves offshore oil, gas exploration bid - source

BEIRUT, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Lebanon's cabinet approved a bid on Thursday for offshore energy exploration by a consortium made up of France's Total, Italy's ENI and Russia's Novatek, in the country's first oil and gas offshore licensing round, a government source said.

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Former Philippine President defends controversial dengue program

MANILA (Reuters) - Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino defended on Thursday his decision to implement a controversial immunization program using a new dengue vaccine in 2016, saying it was justified with millions of people at risk of being infected by the virus.

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Putin says Russia won't be dragged into new arms race with U.S.A.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia would pay proper attention to the development of its army and navy, but it would not be dragged into a new arms race with the United States.

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Kenyan police assaulted and raped women during election: rights group

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Several dozen women in Kenya said police officers attacked them during this year's election season and some said they were raped by men in uniform, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

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Zimbabwe ex-leader Mugabe visits Singapore hospital: sources

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe visited a hospital in Singapore this week apparently for medical checks, his first trip outside his country since he was ousted from office last month, sources in Singapore said on Thursday.

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Indian Hindu tried to raise money with video of killing of Muslim: police

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A Hindu man in India tried to raise money for a campaign against minority Muslims by issuing an appeal for donations with a video he took and posted online showing him killing a Muslim, police said on Thursday.

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Russian court rejects Siemens claim that Crimea turbines sale was invalid

MOSCOW, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Moscow's Arbitration Court on Thursday rejected a claim by Germany's Siemens that the sale of its turbines which were delivered to Crimea was invalid.

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After defeat at home, Britain's May urges EU leaders to move on with Brexit

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will urge European Union leaders to approve an agreement to move Brexit talks on to a second phase on Thursday, just hours after an embarrassing parliamentary defeat at home that weakens her hand.

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South Africa's Zuma appeals court ruling on state prosecutor's appointment: local media

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has filed an appeal against a court ruling that his appointment of a state prosecutor to decide whether to reinstate corruption charges against him was not valid, local media reported on Thursday.

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Six months on, London holds memorial for Grenfell fire victims

LONDON (Reuters) - Survivors of a fire that killed 71 people six months ago in the Grenfell Tower social housing block in west London will join firefighters and members of the royal family at a national memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday.

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Sweden to raise minimum pension age as retirees live longer

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden will raise the minimum age at which workers can take their state pension over the coming years, a move designed to match an increase in average life spans, the major political parties said on Thursday.

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China angered as U.S. considers navy visits to Taiwan

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) - China accused the United States on Thursday of interfering in its internal affairs and said it had lodged a complaint after U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law an act laying the groundwork for possible U.S. navy visits to self-ruled Taiwan.

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Suicide bomber kills at least 15 at police academy in Somalia's capital

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman blew himself up inside a police training camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Thursday and killed at least 15 officers, officials said.

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China summons Australian envoy over political meddling allegations

SYDNEY (Reuters) - China summoned Australia's ambassador to lodge a complaint last week over Canberra's allegation that Beijing had sought to interfere in Australian politics, a source familiar with the diplomatic action told Reuters on Thursday.

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Moscow, Cairo may sign deal on Friday to resume Russian flights to Egypt: TASS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and Egypt may sign an agreement on Friday allowing to resume Russian civilian flights to Egypt, the TASS news agency cited Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov as saying on Thursday.

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Suicide bomber kills at least 13 in police academy attack in Somali capital

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide bomber in police uniform blew himself up inside a police training camp in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Thursday, killing at least 13 police officers, officials said.

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Australia's population growth outpaces world as migrants rush in

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's population is expanding at the fastest pace in the developed world as skilled migrants flock to the resource-rich nation, a fillip to economic growth overall but perhaps also a source of puzzling weakness in wages.

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Britain's May urges EU leaders to move on with Brexit talks

LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will urge European Union leaders to approve an agreement to move Brexit talks on to a second phase on Thursday, describing it as a fair deal that offers a good base for a discussion of future ties.

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Indonesia court rejects petition to bar consensual sex outside marriage

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's constitutional court on Thursday narrowly rejected a controversial petition to bar all consensual sex outside of marriage in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

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GM says former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton to resign from board

Dec 13 (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Wednesday Joseph Ashton, a former United Auto Workers vice president who led the union's GM department, has resigned from the company's board.

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Indonesia's constitutional court rejects petition to bar consensual sex outside marriage

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's constitutional court on Thursday rejected a petition to bar all consensual sex outside of marriage.

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U.S. appeals court vacates conviction of drug distributor over Botox

Dec 13 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday vacated the conviction of the owner of a wholesale drug distributor accused of selling authentic Botox and other drugs with foreign labels, dealing another setback to the government, which has struggled at times to successfully prosecute similar such cases.

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Odebrecht paid firms linked to Peru's Kuczynski $4.8 million: document

LIMA (Reuters) - Brazilian builder Odebrecht transferred $4.8 million to companies linked to Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski between 2004 and 2012, some of which was paid to a company Kuczynski controlled when he held senior government roles, according to a document the company sent to Congress.

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U.S. shoemaker Rockport explores options including sale -sources

NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The Rockport Group is exploring its options, including a possible sale, after one of the U.S. footwear maker's major debtholders took ownership of the company, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

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Mexico Senate committees pass controversial security bill

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican Senate committees on Wednesday approved a controversial security bill that human rights groups say risks granting excessive power to the armed forces in their already checkered role in combating organized crime in the country.

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A former staffer says Rep. Blake Farenthold's crude remarks drove him to quit

A former senior aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold has approached the House Ethics Committee to share a damning account of working for the Texas Republican, with the intent of describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning -- and his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.

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Rakuten eying entry into Japan's mobile carrier market: source

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc plans to join a government auction for wireless spectrum to be held in January, potentially becoming the country's fourth major wireless carrier, a source briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

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Ecuador court sentences VP to six years in jail in Odebrecht graft case

QUITO (Reuters) - An Ecuadorean court on Wednesday sentenced Vice President Jorge Glas to six years in jail after finding him guilty of receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht [ODBCT.UL] in return for handing the scandal-ridden firm state contracts.

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Rakuten eyeing entry into Japan's mobile carrier market: source

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc plans to join a government auction for wireless spectrum to be held in January, potentially becoming the country's fourth major wireless carrier, a source briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

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UPDATE 1-Ecuador court sentences VP to six years in jail in Odebrecht graft case

QUITO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - An Ecuadorean court on Wednesday sentenced Vice President Jorge Glas to six years in jail after finding him guilty of receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in return for handing the scandal-ridden firm state contracts.

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Disney deal set to value Fox at more than $75 billion: source

(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's deal to buy film, television and international businesses from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc will value the latter at over $40 per share, or $75 billion, a person familiar with the matter said.

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UPDATE 1-Disney deal set to value Fox at more than $75 billion -source

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's deal to buy film, television and international businesses from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc will value the latter at over $40 per share, or $75 billion, a person familiar with the matter said.

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BRIEF-Hmg Courtland Properties says Jy-Tv Associates Entered Agreement With Cardone Real Estate Acquisitions

* HMG COURTLAND PROPERTIES - JY-TV ASSOCIATES ENTERED AGREEMENT WITH CARDONE REAL ESTATE ACQUISITIONS TO SELL APARTMENTS FOR ABOUT $50.3 MILLION-SEC FILING Source text: [http://bit.ly/2AAFuRH] Further company coverage:

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Manhattan bomb suspect makes court appearance from hospital bed

Akayed Ullah made his first court appearance from a hospital bed on Wednesday, two days after authorities said he detonated a homemade device on a busy transit hub in New York City, injuring five people and creating panic.

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Merkel's conservatives keen, but SPD still coy on German government talks

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives said they were willing to open formal talks on forming a government with Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) - but her chosen partner was expected to take two more days to decide how to proceed.

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Delta may place order for 100 Airbus A321neo jets: sources

PARIS/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines looked close on Wednesday to placing an order for 100 Airbus A321neo jets in a boost for the European planemaker as it tries to narrow a 2017 order gap against Boeing , two people familiar with the matter said.

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Canada says defense firms can now sell small arms to Ukraine

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Wednesday that defense contractors would be allowed to sell weapons such as automatic firearms and electric stun guns to Ukraine, a move the government in Kiev has long pressed for.

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Ford to shift midsize sedan production out of Mexico: sources

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has told suppliers it plans to shift production of midsize Fusion and Mondeo sedans out of Mexico and Spain in 2020 and move it to China, three sources said on Wednesday.

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UPDATE 1-Ford to shift midsize sedan production out of Mexico -sources

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has told suppliers it plans to shift production of midsize Fusion and Mondeo sedans out of Mexico and Spain in 2020 and move it to China, three sources said on Wednesday.

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Putin must nudge Syria into U.N. peace deal, mediator says

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura urged Russia on Wednesday to convince its ally the Syrian government of the need to clinch a peace deal to end the nearly seven-year-old war.

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Britain's May defeated in parliament over Brexit blueprint

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May's government was defeated on Wednesday, when lawmakers forced through changes to its Brexit blueprint that ministers said could endanger Britain's departure from the European Union.

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Turkish police summon FBI official: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police summoned a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official on Wednesday over statements made in a U.S. court by a former Turkish police investigator who fled the country last year, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.

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UPDATE 1-Delta may place order for 100 Airbus A321neo jets -sources

PARIS/NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines looked close on Wednesday to placing an order for 100 Airbus A321neo jets in a boost for the European planemaker as it tries to narrow a 2017 order gap against Boeing, two people familiar with the matter said.

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Brazil's Temer back in hospital for prostate tests

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Michel Temer canceled his scheduled meetings on Wednesday and flew to São Paulo for tests to evaluate surgery he had in October to reduce the size of his prostate, his office said.

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U.S. court removes creditor hurdle to a Westinghouse bankruptcy plan

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - A U.S. judge shot down on Wednesday a request by creditors of Westinghouse Electric Co LLC for a bigger role in the nuclear technology company's bankruptcy just days after its parent company Toshiba Corp proposed a restructuring plan.

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British lawmakers defeat May's government on Brexit law

LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers defeated Prime Minister Theresa May's government on Wednesday, voting to change her Brexit blueprint in a move which could complicate her efforts to sever ties with the European Union.

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Merkel courts Germany's skittish SPD as talks open on government

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) held their first formal talks on forming a government with Angela Merkel's conservatives on Wednesday, more than two months after the national election that plunged Europe's largest economy into unaccustomed uncertainty.

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Despite Tillerson overture, White House says not right time for North Korea talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - No negotiations can be held with North Korea until it improves its behavior, a White House official said on Wednesday, raising questions about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's offer to begin talks with Pyongyang anytime and without pre-conditions.

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CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 3-Brazil Burger King operator may price IPO near top of range -sources

SAO PAULO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The operator of the Burger King fast-food chain in Brazil, BK Brasil Operação e Assessoria a Restaurantes SA, is expected to price its initial public offering near the top of the suggested price range, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

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Exclusive: Ford to base Fusion production in China, ship to U.S. - sources

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co plans to consolidate global production of midsize sedans in China in 2020 and ship them to the United States and Europe, three sources said on Wednesday.

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Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar, face official secrets charges

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's government said on Wednesday that police had arrested two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. The reporters had been working on stories about a military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rahkine State that has caused almost 650,000 people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

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White House says not right time for North Korea talks, despite Tillerson overture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - No negotiations can be held with North Korea until it improves its behavior, a White House official said on Wednesday, raising questions about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's offer to begin talks with Pyongyang anytime and without pre-conditions.

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White House says not right time for talks with North Korea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There can be no negotiations with North Korea until it "fundamentally improves its behavior," a White House official said on Wednesday, a day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's offer to begin direct talks with Pyongyang anytime and without pre-conditions.

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EU reopens feud over quotas for hosting refugees

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Rivals from the two sides of the European Union's migration dispute will meet in Brussels on Thursday in a goodwill gesture just as the bloc reopens a bitter feud over hosting refugees.

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Swiss church bells ring out after dark as court upholds nighttime chiming

ZURICH (Reuters) - A Swiss church can let its bells ring out in celebration after the country's highest court overturned a restriction on its peeling chimes demanded by a local couple.

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Supporters of Egypt presidential hopeful arrested, say security sources, family

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces have arrested three supporters of presidential hopeful and former prime minister Ahmed Shafik, security sources and members of his party said on Wednesday.

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Algeria's ruling caste set on orderly succession, when the time comes

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerians are facing the eventual departure of their long-serving president, the ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in the knowledge that all is being done to ensure little changes when he goes.

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Presidential hopeful wants Finland out of EU, says nationalists will bounce back

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland will leave the European Union and position itself as the Switzerland of the north to protect its independence if Laura Huhtasaari, the presidential candidate of the eurosceptic Finns Party has her way.

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Nigerian court drops most asset declaration charges against Senate president

(This version of the December 12th story corrects headline and paragraph one to remove references to corruption)

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As resistance builds, Macron shifts focus away from euro reform

PARIS/BERLIN (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron, concerned that a divisive discussion over euro zone reform might undermine his broader European agenda, has begun prioritizing other areas of EU cooperation, French officials say.

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BRIEF-Blackrock To Support Chairman Donald Brydon In London Stock Exchange-TCI Row- Source

* BLACKROCK TO SUPPORT CHAIRMAN DONALD BRYDON IN LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE-TCI ROW- SOURCE Further company coverage:

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Greek top court clears way for U.S. extradition of Russian cybercrime suspect

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's top court cleared the way on Wednesday for the extradition to the United States of a Russian man, also wanted in Moscow, suspected of having laundered billions of dollars in the digital currency bitcoin.

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In another blow to Zuma, South African top court orders influence-peddling inquiry

PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa's High Court ruled on Wednesday that President Jacob Zuma, under fire for alleged corruption, must set up a judicial inquiry into state influence-peddling within 30 days.

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Poland's new prime minister: a gamble that could backfire

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's new prime minister faces a difficult balancing act trying to repair bruised relations with the European Union without alienating the eurosceptic government's core voters.

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Brazil police raid homes of two members of Congress in bribery probe

BRASÍLIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police raided the offices and homes of two members of Congress on Wednesday in the latest corruption probe as the government makes a last-ditch effort to vote on an overhaul of the country's costly pension system.

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Greek top court paves way for U.S. extradition of Russian bitcoin fraud suspect

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's Supreme Court on Wednesday paved the way for the extradition to the United States of Russian bitcoin fraud suspect Alexander Vinnik.

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Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar: government

YANGON (Reuters) - Two Reuters journalists were arrested on Tuesday evening in Myanmar's main city, Yangon, a government spokesman said.

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Saudi King Salman says determined to confront corruption

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz said on Wednesday his government was determined to confront corruption with "justice and decisiveness" as the kingdom pushes ahead with its vision to wean the kingdom from dependence on oil.

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Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar: government spokesman

YANGON (Reuters) - Two Reuters journalists were arrested on Tuesday evening in Myanmar's main city, Yangon, a government spokesman said.

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Germany's SPD plays hard-to-get before first talks with Merkel

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Social Democrats said on Wednesday they would share power with Angela Merkel's conservatives only if ordinary voters get a fairer deal, seeking to reassure party skeptics hours before highly-sensitive talks between the two camps.

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Rights group criticizes China for mass DNA collection in Xinjiang

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have collected DNA and other biometric data from the whole population of the volatile western region of Xinjiang, Human Right Watch said on Wednesday, denouncing the campaign as a gross violation of international norms.

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Westfield $16 billion Unibail-Rodamco sale rings the bell on retail's next chapter

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) - For investors in Australia's Westfield Corp , its $16 billion sale to European property giant Unibail-Rodamco may mark a turning point for a mall industry under pressure to reinvent itself amid fierce online competition.

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Swiss Gotthard road tunnel closed after fatal crash

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Gotthard road tunnel under the Alps in Switzerland is closed after a truck and a passenger car collided, killing two people and damaging the key transit route, police said on Wednesday.

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France's Macron to attend Russia investor forum in 2018: RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron will be a guest of honor at an economic forum to be held in Russia's second-largest city St. Petersburg next year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, the RIA news agency reported.

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Blackstone hires Bain dealmaker in Japan corporate buyout push - sources

* Bain's Toshiba chip deal is top PE-backed global deal this yr

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Kremlin calls U.S. allegations of subversive activity 'groundless'

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday that U.S. allegations it was involved in a new generation of warfare, including internal political subversion, against the United States, were groundless and not backed by facts.

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South Korean firms flock to Beijing hoping summit will hasten thaw with China

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hoping a thaw in relations with China will reopen opportunities after a diplomatic spat earlier this year cost many of them business, some 300 South Korean executives joined President Moon Jae-in for the start of his four-day trip to China on Wednesday.

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At least 39 Yemenis dead in Saudi-led raid on police camp in Sanaa: official

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi-led coalition aircraft struck a military police camp in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday, killing at least 39 people and wounding 90 more, including some prisoners, an official and witnesses said.

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Britain cannot renege on Brexit commitments: EU's Barnier

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - Britain cannot renege on commitments made to ensure Brexit talks with the European Union move on to discussions on the future relationship between the two, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

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Saudi-led coalition kills 39 in strike on police camp in Yemen capital: witnesses

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi-led coalition aircraft struck a military police camp in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday, killing at least 39 people and wounding 90 more including some prisoners, an official and witnesses said.

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Backed by Putin, Russian military pushes into foreign policy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - From Damascus to Doha, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has been showing up in unexpected places, a sign of the military's growing influence under Vladimir Putin.

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China marks Nanjing Massacre anniversary but Xi low key

BEIJING (Reuters) - China marked the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre on Wednesday with a call to work with Japan for peace, but President Xi Jinping kept a low profile and left the main public remarks to another senior official.

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U.S. urges Cambodia to reverse steps against democracy

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - The United States has called on Cambodia to reverse steps that "backtracked on democracy" before a general election next year, a visiting U.S. official said on Wednesday.

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Pakistani court summons police in case of missing peace activist

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Wednesday summoned a police officer investigating the case of a missing peace activist who is believed to have been kidnapped by unidentified men this month.

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RPT-UPDATE 1-Banks eye Paris airports operator in Macron privatisation drive -sources

LONDON/FRANKFURT, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Investment banks are vying to work with potential buyers or the French government on the sale of its majority stake in Aeroports de Paris (ADP) , sources close to the matter said, in one of the largest infrastructure deals expected to come to market in 2018.

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Judges consider HK double murder appeal by convicted former British banker

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Three judges in Hong Kong's Court of Appeal are set to decide the fate of a former British banker who was jailed for life last year for the murder of two Indonesian women he tortured and raped after his appeal hearing closed on Wednesday.

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Turkey says world must recognise East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Muslim nations must press the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, Turkey said on Wednesday as it opened an Islamic summit called in response to a U.S. decision to recognise the city as Israel's capital.

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Poland's new government wins vote of confidence in parliament

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's new government led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki won a vote of confidence in parliament just before midnight on Tuesday, voting records showed, opening the way for the Cabinet to start functioning.

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Turkey says world must recognize East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey appealed on Wednesday for the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, as it opened an Islamic summit called in response to a U.S. decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital.

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China marks Nanjing Massacre anniversary but Xi silent

BEIJING (Reuters) - China marked the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre on Wednesday with a call to work with Japan for peace, but President Xi Jinping kept a low profile and left the public remarks to another senior official.

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Australian PM says government at risk if it loses Sydney by-election

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday his government's future was at risk if it lost a Sydney by-election this weekend and failed to regain its one-seat majority, forcing it to rely on independents to survive in power.

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Window falls from U.S. Marines helicopter onto school grounds in Japan's Okinawa

TOKYO (Reuters) - A window fell from a U.S. helicopter onto a school sports field near a U.S. Marines air base on Okinawa on Wednesday, the Marines said, the latest in a series of accidents that have fanned safety concerns on Japan's southern island.

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Human Rights Watch calls on Singapore to relax free speech, assembly laws

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Singapore government's laws limiting critical speech and peaceful assembly are overly broad and make the country a repressive place severely restricting what can be said and published, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

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UPDATE 1-Ex-Trump aide Carter Page tells court to stop AT&T Time Warner deal

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page argued in court papers on Tuesday that AT&T Inc should not be permitted to buy CNN parent Time Warner Inc because there was a risk it would lead to "recklessness" in journalism.

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BRIEF-‍African Gold Group Announces Termination Of Negotiations With Hummingbird Resources

* ‍AFRICAN GOLD GROUP ANNOUNCES TERMINATION OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH HUMMINGBIRD RESOURCES AND IS EVALUATING ALL LEGAL RIGHTS AND REMEDIES​ Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage:

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Tillerson overture to North Korea: U.S. ready to talk without pre-conditions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered on Tuesday to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, backing away from a key U.S. demand that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be about giving up its nuclear arsenal.

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Brazil appeals court schedules early decision on Lula appeal

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A Brazilian appeals court on Tuesday said it would decide on Jan. 24 on an appeal by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva against a corruption conviction that could bar him from running in the 2018 presidential race.

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U.S. wary of Putin's declaration of military victory in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is voicing skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a major withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria and is arguing that his declaration of victory against Islamic State was premature.

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Latest fire in Chinese capital kills five despite safety blitz

BEIJING (Reuters) - A fire in a southern neighborhood of the Chinese capital, Beijing, early on Wednesday killed five people, the government said, just weeks after another deadly blaze in the city prompted a crackdown against migrant workers.

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UK's May faces parliamentary showdown with Brexit rebels

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May's control of the Brexit process will undergo its stiffest parliamentary test yet on Wednesday, when she faces a showdown with rebels in her own party over the laws that will take Britain out of the European Union.

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Ex-Trump aide Carter Page tells court to stop AT&T Time Warner deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page argued in court papers on Tuesday that AT&T Inc should not be permitted to buy CNN parent Time Warner Inc because there was a risk it would lead to "recklessness" in journalism.

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U.S. aid chief says no sign Yemen port blockade easing to allow aid in

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There are no signs that a blockade of Yemen's ports by a Saudi-led military coalition has eased to allow aid to reach communities increasingly at risk of starvation, the head of the U.S. government's aid agency said on Tuesday.

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U.S.'s Tillerson, in new overture to North Korea, says ready to talk without pre-conditions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered on Tuesday to begin talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, appearing to back away from U.S. demands that Pyongyang must first accept that any negotiations would have to be based on North Korean nuclear disarmament.

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U.N. envoy urges Security Council to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A top U.N. official recounted to the Security Council on Tuesday "heartbreaking and horrific accounts of sexual atrocities" by Myanmar soldiers against Rohingya Muslim women, urging the body to visit the region and demand an end to attacks on civilians.

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U.S. ready to talk but North Korea must be ready to change course: Tillerson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday the United States was prepared to talk to North Korea whenever it is ready but Pyongyang must come to the negotiating table willing to make choices to change course on its nuclear and missile programs.

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Mexico's presidential front-runner vows more welfare, formalizes bid

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican front-runner for next year's election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, formalized his bid for the presidency on Tuesday and promised his government would spend on the young, elderly and farmers.

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Venezuela to start criminal probe into ex-oil czar Ramirez

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela said on Tuesday it would start a criminal investigation into powerful former oil czar Rafael Ramirez, in an escalation of a purge of alleged corruption that has resulted in the arrest of dozens of oil executives.

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Lafarge paid 13 million euros to armed groups to keep operating in Syria: rights group

PARIS (Reuters) - French cement group Lafarge paid close to 13 million euros ($15.2 million) to armed groups including Islamic State militants to keep operating in Syria from 2011-2015, human rights lawyers said on Tuesday.

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EU pushes to curb Africa migration more, still split on hosting refugees

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will discuss how to further curb immigration from across the Mediterranean over dinner on Thursday, but are as divided as ever on how to take care of refugees who still make it to Europe.

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U.S. court upholds Grand Canyon uranium mining ban, but allows mine nearby

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower-court ruling keeping a ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, but also upheld a separate decision allowing a uranium mine nearby to open.

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White House to host fresh biofuels talks to help refiners: sources

(Reuters) - The White House will host talks between the rival oil and ethanol industries on Wednesday in hopes of brokering a deal to help refiners struggling to meet the country's biofuels policy, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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Russia not withdrawing forces from Syria, Pentagon says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Tuesday it has not observed any meaningful withdrawal of Russian combat forces from Syria, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement on Monday of a significant pullout.

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White House to host fresh biofuels talks to help refiners -sources

Dec 12 (Reuters) - The White House will host talks between the rival oil and ethanol industries on Wednesday in hopes of brokering a deal to help refiners struggling to meet the country's biofuels policy, according to sources familiar with the matter.

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EU readies 'David Davis-proof' Brexit summit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union plays down talk by Britain's Brexit minister that last week's interim accord is not binding and will launch new talks on Friday that are "David Davis-proof", a senior EU official said.

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France's Le Drian says 'no' to Iran Mediterranean axis

PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign minister criticized Iran's regional ambitions, saying Paris could not accept Tehran's military expansion to the Mediterranean, and accused Russia of failing to use its influence to push U.N.-led Syrian peace talks and curb violence.

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Venezuela to open criminal probe of ex oil czar Ramirez: prosecutor

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will open a criminal investigation of former oil czar Rafael Ramirez, the country's chief prosecutor said on Tuesday, as part of a broad shakeup of the OPEC nation's oil industry that has resulted in the arrest of dozens of executives.

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U.N. warns of new Syrian refugee wave to Europe if aid dries up

GENEVA (Reuters) - Syrian refugees could again seek to reach Europe in droves if aid programs are not sustained in five neighboring countries hosting the bulk of them, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

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Bulgaria freezes assets of independent media publisher

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria has frozen assets and property and bank accounts belonging to businessman and media owner Ivo Prokopiev, who said the state was trying to silence the country's independent media.

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German soldier accused of planning to kill politicians, frame refugees

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German soldier was charged on Tuesday with plotting to kill senior politicians because of their support for refugees and trying to make it look like asylum seekers carried out the murders.

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UPDATE 1-Banks eye Paris airports operator in Macron privatisation drive -sources

LONDON/FRANKFURT, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Investment banks are vying to work with potential buyers or the French government on the sale of its majority stake in Aeroports de Paris (ADP) , sources close to the matter said, in one of the largest infrastructure deals expected to come to market in 2018.

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South Africa's Zuma rejects reports his office is drafting emergency laws

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma has rejected local news reports that his office has started drafting regulations for a state of emergency, the president's office said on Tuesday.

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Poland's new PM says government policy to remain unchanged

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday in his policy speech that the Law and Justice (PiS) party government's policy will remain unchanged and it will be focused on supporting families.

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Europe's Unibail bids $16 billion for Westfield to counter online threat

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE/PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's biggest property firm Unibail-Rodamco is to buy U.S. and UK mall operator Westfield Corp for $16 billion, a defensive move to create a global leader in a sector grappling with the online shopping challenge led by Amazon .

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Russia will keep bases in Syria to strike at insurgents: Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will keep a naval and an air base in Syria capable of carrying out strikes against insurgents if required after a partial military pull-out announced by President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

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Partial power-share can end German political dilemma, some in SPD say

BERLIN (Reuters) - Wary of renewing a coalition with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany's Social Democrats are instead contemplating a so-called "cooperation" arrangement that would see them agree on a minimal program but leave contested matters up for debate.

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Turkish teachers linked to Ergogan foe detained in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - One Afghan and three Turkish teachers linked to an organization regarded with suspicion by the Turkish government were detained by Afghan intelligence officials on Tuesday, the organization's head said.

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Tight race as South Africa's ANC prepares to elect Zuma successor

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress holds an election this weekend to replace Jacob Zuma as party leader in a closely fought contest whose winner is likely to emerge as the nation's next president.

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Brazil Burger King operator may price IPO near top of range -sources

SAO PAULO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The operator of the Burger King fast-food chain in Brazil, BK Brasil Operação e Assessoria a Restaurantes SA, is expected to price its initial public offering near the top of the range, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.

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Tillerson to back North Korea diplomacy, reject Syria's Assad: U.S. official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in remarks later on Tuesday, plans to say that he is optimistic about North Korea denuclearization talks and that there is no role for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's future, a U.S. official said.

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'We are one': Palestinian Christians and Muslims unite against Trump's Jerusalem call

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Less than an hour after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Palestinians protested by turning off the lights on the Christmas tree outside Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

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BRIEF-JG Wentworth Says Co, Units Filed Voluntary Cases Under Chapter 11 In United States Bankruptcy Court

* JG WENTWORTH SAYS ON DEC 12, CO, UNITS FILED VOLUNTARY CASES UNDER CHAPTER 11 IN UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR DISTRICT OF DELAWARE - SEC FILING

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France expects slow but massive impact from labor reforms: minister

PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron's labor reforms will be slow to bear fruit but eventually have a massive impact on France's stubbornly high unemployment, his labor minister said Tuesday after data showed a slowdown in new job creation.

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Denmark's government at risk in row with nationalists over Syrian refugees

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Demands from the nationalist Danish People's Party (DF) that Syrian refugees be sent home as soon as possible are threatening to bring down the country's centre-right minority government.

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French government dampens Corsican nationalists' autonomy hopes

PARIS (Reuters) - France's government on Tuesday ruled out major concessions towards autonomy sought by Corsica's nationalists after they won a regional election, but said it was open to talks that took account of the island's distinctive character.

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Two dead in Gaza blast, Israeli military denies it carried out an attack

GAZA (Reuters) - Two Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants riding on a motorcycle in Gaza were killed in an explosion on Tuesday, health officials said. Israel's military denied accounts by local residents that they were killed in an air strike.

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Be careful, murdered Iranian activist's daughter tells European exiles

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The daughter of an Iranian Arab activist killed in the Netherlands last month linked his death to political conflict in the Middle East, and warned other exiles in Europe to be on their guard.

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Turkey chides Arabs for 'weak' reaction ahead of Jerusalem summit

ANKARA/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey criticized what it said was a feeble Arab reaction to the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying on the eve of Wednesday's Muslim summit in Istanbul that some Arab countries were scared of angering Washington.

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Hundreds of thousands in Israel mourn 104-year-old ultra-Orthodox rabbi

BNEI BRAK, Israel (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews crammed into the streets of a Tel Aviv suburb on Tuesday to mourn a 104-year-old rabbi who had significantly influenced a succession of Israeli coalition governments.

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BRIEF-Ascendant Resources Announces Record Tonnes Mined From Its El Mochito Mine

* ASCENDANT RESOURCES ANNOUNCES RECORD TONNES MINED AND ITS FIFTH CONSECUTIVE MONTH OF POSITIVE EBITDA FROM ITS EL MOCHITO MINE

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Bomb kills bomb disposal expert in Somalia's Puntland, al Shabaab suspected

BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) - An army colonel in the semi-autonomous Puntland region who also headed the region's bomb disposal unit was killed on Tuesday after a roadside bomb he was defusing exploded, a military official said.

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Make EU gentleman's agreement with Britain binding: EU lawmakers

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament will insist on quickly making the deal reached between the European Union and Britain on divorce terms legally binding, worried London may not honor a gentleman's agreement, the parliament's chief Brexit coordinator said.

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War-scarred neighborhoods in Ukraine's rebel-held Donetsk

DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ruined houses, shell craters and deserted streets - this is a typical scene in the Oktyabrsky district of Donetsk, the largest city of Ukraine's pro-Russian rebel region that bears the same name.

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Japan's Constitutional Democrats: a little party with big ambition

TOKYO (Reuters) - The leader of the small Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which out-performed expectations in an October vote, now hopes that by offering clear policy alternatives he can oust Prime Minister Shinto Abe's coalition in the next election.

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China warns against livestreaming after 'rooftopper' falls to death

BEIJING (Reuters) - A young Chinese climbing enthusiast's fatal fall from a skyscraper while making a selfie video on a $15,000 "rooftopping" dare has spurred warnings by state media against the perils of livestreaming.

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BRIEF-Forterra Says U.S. Court Granted Motion To Dismiss Relating To Lawsuit Filed By Affiliates Of Heidelbergcement A.G.

* FORTERRA - ON DEC 8, U.S. COURT GRANTED MOTION TO DISMISS FILED BY CERTAIN AFFILIATES OF CO RELATING TO LAWSUIT FILED BY AFFILIATES OF HEIDELBERGCEMENT A.G.

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Europe's Unibail-Rodamco bids $16 billion for Westfield in global shift

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Unibail-Rodamco, Europe's biggest property group, has agreed to buy shopping mall owner Westfield Corp for $16 billion, marking the biggest takeover of an Australian company and a shift in global retail property to counter online shopping.

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Russian credit to cover part of S-400 missile deal with Turkey: agency

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will offer Turkey partial financing for Ankara's purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a Russian presidential aide.

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Russia will keep bases in Syria to strike at 'terrorists': Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will keep a naval and an air base in Syria capable of carrying out strikes against "terrorists" if required after a partial military pull-out announced by President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

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Kremlin: We see Trump's tweets as official statements

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump are viewed in Moscow as his official position and read by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

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CORRECTED-UPDATE 4-France's Unibail-Rodamco bids $15.7 bln for Australia's Westfield

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE Dec 12 (Reuters) - France's Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy shopping mall owner Westfield Corp for $15.7 billion, in what would be the biggest takeover of an Australian company on record.

companyNews reuters.com

BRIEF-India's Mukesh Ambani Considers IPO Of Jio Wireless Carrier- Bloomberg,Citing Sources

* INDIA'S MUKESH AMBANI CONSIDERS IPO OF JIO WIRELESS CARRIER- BLOOMBERG,CITING SOURCES

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Japan air force drills with U.S. bombers, stealth fighters near Korean peninsula

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese F-15 fighters on Tuesday held drills with U.S. B1-B bombers, F-35 stealth aircraft and F-18 multirole combat jets

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UPDATE 1-Blackstone buys back 10 pct in warehouse firm Logicor - source

Dec 12 (Reuters) - A Blackstone real estate fund is buying a 10 percent stake in Logicor Ltd just months after selling the European warehouse firm to a Chinese sovereign wealth fund, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

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Kremlin says widespread Russian forces no longer needed in Syria

MOSCOW (Reuters) - There is a no longer the need for widely-deployed Russian military forces in Syria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

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BRIEF-Steve Laut To Become Executive Vice Chairman of Canadian Natural Resources

* DARREN FICHTER, CURRENTLY EVP OF CANADIAN CONVENTIONAL TO BE PROMOTED TO COO, E&P

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UPDATE 1-Seadrill bondholders propose alternative debt restructuring -sources

OSLO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - An unofficial committee of Seadrill's unsecured bondholders has submitted a binding alternative proposal for the company's restructuring, two sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters on Tuesday.

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Seadrill bondholders propose alternative debt restructuring -sources

OSLO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - An unofficial committee of Seadrill's unsecured bondholders has submitted a binding alternative proposal for the company's restructuring, two sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters on Tuesday.

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Death toll from fighting in South Sudan's Great Lakes rises to 170

JUBA (Reuters) - The death toll from inter-clan fighting in South Sudan's Great Lakes region last week - a new source of violence in a country devastated by a four-year civil war - has reached at least 170, officials said on Tuesday.

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Exclusive: South Africa's Steinhoff considers sale of PSG, KAP stakes to lift liquidity -sources

JOHANNESBURG/ FRANKFURT (Reuters) - South Africa's Steinhoff is considering selling stakes worth a combined $1.4 billion in local companies PSG Group and KAP Industrial to help plug a liquidity gap at the retailer, two sources familiar with the matter said.

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Thai PM says no trade with North Korea, ahead of U.S. envoy's visit

BANGKOK (Reuters) - No trade takes place between Thailand and North Korea, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday, ahead of an expected visit by a U.S. envoy seeking to step up pressure on North Korea over its weapons programs.

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe flies to Singapore, first trip since ouster

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe has left the country for medical checks in Singapore, his first foreign travel since the army forced him from office last month, a state security official said on Tuesday.

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Russian court to hear new Rosneft lawsuit against Sistema in Jan

MOSCOW, Dec 12 (Reuters) - The Arbitration Court of Bashkortostan will hold preliminary hearings of a 131.6-billion-rouble ($2 billion) lawsuit filed by Russia's Rosneft and Bashneft against Sistema on Jan. 12, court documents showed.

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Death toll from fighting in South Sudan's Great Lakes region rises to 170: official

JUBA (Reuters) - The death toll from intercommunal fighting between two clans in South Sudan's Great Lakes region last week has reached at least 170, an official said, up from 45, reflecting a new source of violence in a country devastated by a four-year civil war.

businessNews reuters.com

France's Unibail-Rodamco bids $15.7 billion for Australia's Westfield

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) - France's Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy shopping mall owner Westfield Corp for $15.7 billion, in what would be the biggest takeover of an Australian company on record.

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Return of defeated IS fighters 'real threat' to Russia: RIA cites FSB chief

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former militants from "bandit units" in Syria are now a real threat after the defeat of Islamic State, as many of them may be now planning to return to Russia, the RIA news agency cited the head of Russia's FSB security service as saying on Tuesday.

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UPDATE 4-France's Unibail-Rodamco bids $15.7 bln for Australia's Westfield

* Westfield owns 35 shopping centres in UK, U.S. (Adds Frank and Peter Lowy comments, analyst comments)

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EU suspends funding for Cambodian election

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - The European Union has suspended funding for Cambodia's 2018 general election because the vote cannot be credible after the dissolution of the main opposition party, according to a letter sent to the national election committee on Tuesday.

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UPDATE 3-France's Unibail-Rodamco bids $24.7 bln for Australia's Westfield

* Westfield owns 35 shopping centres in UK, U.S. (Adds analyst comment, retail background)

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France's Unibail-Rodamco bids $24.7 billion for Australia's Westfield

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE (Reuters) - France's Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy shopping mall owner Westfield Corp for $24.7 billion including debt, in what would be the biggest takeover of an Australian company on record.

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RPT-Unibail-Rodamco agrees to buy Australia's Westfield for $24.7 bln including debt

SYDNEY, Dec 12 (Reuters) - France's Unibail-Rodamco SE has agreed to acquire Australian mall owner Westfield Corp for $24.7 billion including debt, in what would be the biggest takeover of an Australian company on record.

companyNews reuters.com

Unibail-Rodamco agrees to buy Australia's Westfield for $24.7 bln including debt

SYDNEY, Dec 12 (Reuters) - France's Unibail-Rodamco SE has agreed to acquire Australian mall owner Westfield Corp for $24.7 billion including debt, in what would be the biggest takeover of an Australian company on record.

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BRIEF-Blackstone Buys Back 10 Pct Of Logicor From CIC- FT,Citing Sources

* BLACKSTONE BUYS BACK 10 PERCENT OF LOGICOR FROM CIC- FT,CITING SOURCES

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Cuba tells U.S. suspension of visas is hurting families

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba told senior U.S. officials during talks on migration in Havana on Monday that the U.S. decision to suspend visa processing at its embassy on the island was "seriously hampering" family relations and other people exchanges.

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South Korea's Moon, China's Xi to talk North Korea, trade in Beijing summit

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) - Reining in North Korea's nuclear ambitions will top South Korean President Moon Jae-in's agenda in Beijing during a visit this week aimed at breaking the ice after a furious row with China over Seoul's deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system.

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Wife of disgraced Mexican governor taking 'refuge' in UK: report

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The wife of a detained former Mexican governor is living in Britain and has demanded back artwork, golf clubs and crystal that were seized by the government, according to a letter obtained by news site Animal Politico.

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Prominent Australian opposition lawmaker quits over claims of China links

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Prominent Australian opposition Senator Sam Dastyari said on Tuesday he would resign from parliament after a series of allegations emerged about his links with Chinese-aligned interests in Australia.