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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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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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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.

cnn.com

Don't expect a big pay increase in 2018

A report from consulting firm Korn Ferry predicts that workers around the world will get a real pay increase of just 1.5% on average in 2018.

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UPDATE 1-Brazil's MRV aims for over $2.1 bln in 2018 home sales

SAO PAULO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian homebuilder MRV Engenharia e Participações SA hopes to start construction of 50,000 new home units in 2018, which could generate more than 7 billion reais ($2.1 billion) in sales, a company executive said on Tuesday.

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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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BRIEF-Moody's Says Apple, Microsoft To Drive Robust Earnings Growth For Global Diversified Technology Sector In 2018

* MOODY'S SAYS APPLE, MICROSOFT TO DRIVE ROBUST EARNINGS GROWTH FOR GLOBAL DIVERSIFIED TECHNOLOGY SECTOR IN 2018

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BRIEF-Philip Morris To Make Results From Programs Around IQOS Available By Early 2018

* PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL SAYS TO MAKE DATA, RESULTS FROM NON-CLINICAL, CLINICAL PROGRAM AROUND IQOS AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC BY EARLY 2018 Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage:

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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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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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METALS-Zinc up after Glencore holds 2018 output forecast steady

* LME/ShFE arb: http://bit.ly/2wZSAEz (Updates with official midday prices, adds detail) By Maytaal Angel LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Zinc prices rose on Tuesday after miner and trader Glencore held its output forecast steady for next year, disappointing investors who had largely bet it would restart more capacity. Glencore told an investors presentation it would restart its Lady Loretta mine in the first half of 2018, but added that it expects zinc output to fall sligh

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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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IOC bans six Russian female ice hockey players for life over doping

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned six Russian female ice hockey players from the Olympics for life over doping allegations linked to the 2014 Sochi Games, the ruling body said on Tuesday.

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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.

cnn.com

Doping: Russia backs athletes wanting to take part in Winter Olympics

Russian athletes wanting to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea will have the unanimous support of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), the body said Tuesday.

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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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Russia's Olympic Committee to support its neutral athletes at Winter Games

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Olympic Committee agreed on Tuesday to support its athletes who choose to compete in next year's Winter Games in South Korea as neutrals following a ban on the Russian national team.

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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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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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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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Russia Olympic body to support neutral Russian athletes at Winter Games

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) will support Russian athletes who choose to compete in next year's Winter Games in South Korea, ROC President Alexander Zhukov said on Tuesday.

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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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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.

Rumors and Misinformation nytimes.com

Fingerprints of Russian Disinformation: From AIDS to Fake News

In the 1980s, the Soviets peddled “bum dope about AIDS” around the world. Moscow’s tactics haven’t changed much in the years since.

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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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Russia's Rosneft asks to freeze some of Sistema's assets-RIA

MOSCOW, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Russian oil major Rosneft is seeking a freezing injunction in respect of some of Sistema's assets under its second legal claim against the conglomerate, the RIA news agency quoted a Rosneft spokesman as saying on Tuesday.

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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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Russian Olympic Committee to support Winter Games athletes: draft

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) will support Russian athletes who choose to compete in next year's Winter Games in South Korea, according to a draft document seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

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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.

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Russian Olympic Committee proposes backing Russian athletes to attend Winter Olympics: draft

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Olympic Committee proposes supporting Russian athletes to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, according to a draft document seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

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BRIEF-Autoliv declares dividend of 60 cents/share for Q1 2018​

* AUTOLIV DECLARES DIVIDEND AND SETS DATE FOR SHAREHOLDER AGM

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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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BRIEF-Autoliv decides on spin-off of Electronics business, expects Q3 listing

* AUTOLIV CONCLUDES STRATEGIC REVIEW AND PREPARES FOR SPIN-OFF OF ITS ELECTRONICS SEGMENT

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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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BRIEF-Biotech Genmab sees 2018 expense growth of 40-50 pct

Dec 12 (Reuters) - FOLLOWING ARE STATEMENTS FROM GENMAB'S R'N'D UPDATE IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA:

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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.

cnn.com

Nunes cleared but won't run Russia probe

Rep. Mike Conaway said Monday that he would continue running the House's Russia investigation even though the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has been cleared by an ethics inquiry that had prevented him from running the probe.

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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.

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BRIEF-Advantage Oil & Gas Approved 2018 Capital Budget Of $175 Million

* ADVANTAGE OIL & GAS LTD - APPROVED A 2018 CAPITAL BUDGET OF $175 MILLION Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage:

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British banker to appeal against life sentence for Hong Kong double murder

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A British banker, jailed for life in Hong Kong last year for the murder of two Indonesian women he tortured and raped in his luxury apartment, is due to launch an appeal on Tuesday.

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BRIEF-Tiffany & Co says Jana agreed to inclusion of 3 directors on slate for 2018 annual meeting

* TIFFANY & CO - ON DEC 8, JANA AGREED TO INCLUSION OF 3 DIRECTORS -ROGER FARAH, JAMES LILLIE & FRANCESCO TRAPANI- ON SLATE FOR 2018 ANNUAL MEETING

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PM May's deputy to keep job after pornography claims, ITV says

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May's senior minister will not have to resign over claims that police found pornography on a work computer and that he made an inappropriate sexual advance against a young woman, ITV political editor Robert Peston said on Monday.

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Leading French conservative quits party after right winger wins leadership

PARIS (Reuters) - Right-wing heavyweight Xavier Bertrand quit France's main conservative party, The Republicans, on Monday, highlighting the challenges its new chief will face in trying to keep the party together.

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Turkey, Russia will meet to finalize S-400 defense deal in coming week

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish and Russian officials will meet to finalize Turkey's S-400 surface-to-air missile systems deal in the coming week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

cnn.com

Transgender people can enlist in military in 2018

A federal judge on Monday declined the US government's request to put on hold an order allowing transgender individuals to join the military beginning in January. The decision means transgender people will be free to enlist in the new year.

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Tillerson set to meet Trudeau for North Korea crisis talks: source

OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next week for talks on how to address the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, an Ottawa source said on Monday.

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Ukrainian judge frees Saakashvili from detention

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili was freed from detention on Monday, after a Ukrainian judge turned down the prosecutors' request to place him under house arrest - the latest twist in his dramatic standoff with the authorities.

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Morawiecki sworn in as Polish PM amid dispute with EU

WARSAW (Reuters) - Mateusz Morawiecki was sworn in as Poland's new prime minister on Monday and European Council President Donald Tusk called on the new leader to pursue European unity.

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Ukrainian judge turns down request to place Saakashvili under house arrest

KIEV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian judge on Monday turned down the prosecutors' request to place Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili under house arrest, paving the way for his release from detention.

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Chemicals distribution group Azelis considers 2018 IPO -sources

MADRID/FRANKFURT, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Belgium-based chemicals distribution group Azelis is considering a 2018 stock market listing as its private equity owner seeks to benefit from high sector valuations, sources close to the matter said.

technologyNews reuters.com

U.S. tech firm settles probe of Russian work on defense project

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Netcracker Technology Corp will not face criminal charges for allowing Russian nationals without security clearance to work on a U.S. defense project after it agreed to adopt enhanced cyber security measures, authorities said on Monday.

businessNews reuters.com

Hackers hit U.S., Russian banks in ATM robbery scam: report

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly $10 million from at least 18 mostly U.S. and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said on Monday.

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UPDATE 1-Hackers hit U.S., Russian banks in ATM robbery scam-report

FRANKFURT, Dec 11 (Reuters) - A previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly $10 million from at least 18 mostly U.S. and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said on Monday.

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Exclusive: Detained Saudi billionaire al-Sanea seeks to end debt dispute

DUBAI (Reuters) - A detained Saudi billionaire who led the collapsed Saad Group is seeking to repay part of a multi-billion dollar debt to creditors under a deal that could allow his release, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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Tillerson set to meet Trudeau for N. Korea crisis talks: source

OTTAWA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next week for talks on how to address the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons, an Ottawa source said on Monday.

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Poland's Morawiecki sworn in as new prime minister

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was sworn in by President Andrzej Duda as the country's new prime minister on Monday, replacing Beata Szydlo, who became a Deputy Prime minister.

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Putin, Egypt's Sisi discuss restart of flights, sign nuclear deal

CAIRO (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday, agreeing to resume civilian flights which Moscow halted more than two years ago after militants bombed a Russian tourist jet over the Sinai.

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Iran will treat jailed aid worker as Iranian citizen-foreign ministry

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran will treat a British-Iranian aid worker as an Iranian citizen and she will serve her sentence as determined by the judiciary, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Defense and Military Forces nytimes.com

Whirlwind Putin Tour Highlights Moscow’s New Reach in Mideast

The Russian president visited Syria and Egypt and was due in Turkey all in a day, a trip underscoring new alliances and his role as a statesman.

businessNews reuters.com

VW sees 4-5 billion euros in outflows in 2018 due to dieselgate

WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Volkswagen expects cash outflows of 4-5 billion euros ($4.7-5.9 billion) next year in relation to the dieselgate emissions cheating scandal, the carmaker's Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter told journalists on Monday.

businessNews reuters.com

Hackers hit major ATM network after U.S., Russian bank breaches: report

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly $10 million from at least 18 mostly U.S. and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said on Monday.

worldNews reuters.com

Putin, in Syria, says mission accomplished, orders partial Russian pull-out

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin flew into Syria and ordered "a significant part" of Moscow's military contingent there to start withdrawing on Monday, declaring their work largely done.

artsNews reuters.com

Ancient Roman Pantheon to start charging entry fee in 2018

ROME (Reuters) - Visitors to Rome's Pantheon, one of the ancient world's best preserved monuments, will have to pay an entry fee from next May unless they are going there to pray, Italy's culture and tourism ministry said on Monday.

entertainmentNews reuters.com

Fantasy romance 'Shape of Water' leads 2018 Golden Globe nods

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro's fantasy romance "The Shape of Water" led the nominations for the 2018 Golden Globes on Monday, landing seven nods, including for best drama film, director and actress Sally Hawkins.

companyNews reuters.com

BRIEF-Healthcare Realty Trust Expects To Complete Sale Of $300 Mln Of Senior Notes

* HEALTHCARE REALTY TRUST- ON DEC 11, 2017, CO EXPECTS TO COMPLETE SALE OF $300 MILLION AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF CO'S 3.625% SENIOR NOTES DUE 2028 Source text: (http://bit.ly/2jvF1sM) Further company coverage:

worldNews reuters.com

Emirates and flydubai resume operating some flights over Iraq

DUBAI (Reuters) - Emirates and flydubai have resumed using Iraqi airspace for flights to other countries, the Middle East airlines said on Monday, two days after Iraq declared victory in its years-long fight against Islamic state.

worldNews reuters.com

Venezuelan migrants pose humanitarian problem in Brazil

BOA VISTA, Brazil (Reuters) - Last August, Victor Rivera, a 36-year-old unemployed baker, left his hometown in northern Venezuela and made the two-day journey by road to the remote Amazonian city of Boa Vista, Brazil.

worldNews reuters.com

Russia's Putin, Egypt's Sisi discuss nuclear deal, Middle East tensions

CAIRO (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin met Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday for talks over a nuclear power plant and tensions in the Middle East following Washington's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

cnn.com

See the list of 2018 Globe nominees

companyNews reuters.com

BRIEF-Trican Announces First Half 2018 Capital Program

* TRICAN ANNOUNCES FIRST HALF 2018 CAPITAL PROGRAM, UPDATES THE STATUS OF ITS NORMAL COURSE ISSUER BID AND PROVIDES AN OPERATIONAL UPDATE

worldNews reuters.com

Buoyed by mayoral votes, Venezuela socialists eye presidency race

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro has set his sights on Venezuela's 2018 presidential election after the ruling Socialist Party as predicted dominated mayoral polls with the help of a partial boycott by a crumbling opposition.

worldNews reuters.com

Iran foreign minister defends missile program, asks European support

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister on Monday defended its ballistic missile program and urged European countries not to be influenced by U.S. President Donald Trump's confrontational policy towards Tehran.

worldNews reuters.com

Catalan protesters clash with police over 'plunder' of religious artefacts

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Protesters clashed with police trying to reclaim disputed religious artefacts from a museum in Catalonia on Monday, in the latest display of tension between Catalan separatists and Spain's central government ahead of a Dec. 21 election.

sportsNews reuters.com

Three more Russian athletes file doping appeals: sport court

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Monday three more Russian athletes -- champion biathlete Olga Zaytseva and cross country skiers Yulia Chekaleva and Anastasia Dotsenko -- have appealed against doping bans levied by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

companyNews reuters.com

BRIEF-Suning Commerce sells 5.5 mln shares in Alibaba, expects net income of 3.25 bln yuan

* SAYS IT EXPECTS NET INCOME OF 3.25 BILLION YUAN ($491.16 million) AFTER SELLING 5.5 MILLION SHARES IN ALIBABA GROUP HOLDING Source text in Chinese: http://bit.ly/2B32uI0 Further company coverage: ($1 = 6.6170 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom)

companyNews reuters.com

BRIEF-Friendable Updates Shareholders On Fan Pass Spin-Off And 2018’S Strategic Path Forward

* FRIENDABLE UPDATES SHAREHOLDERS ON FAN PASS SPIN-OFF AND 2018’S STRATEGIC PATH FORWARD

worldNews reuters.com

Putin orders 'significant part' of Russian forces in Syria to withdraw

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin ordered "a significant part" of Russia's military contingent in Syria to start withdrawing on Monday, saying Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying Islamic State in just over two years.

worldNews reuters.com

Pictures of the Year: A picture and its story

(Reuters) - Reuters photographers witnessed the biggest stories of 2017 -- from Donald Trump's first year as U.S. president to the flight of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, from Venezuela's crisis to the fall of Islamic State and a tower block inferno in London.

cnn.com

Putin orders withdrawal of Russian troops in visit to Syrian base

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria during a visit to the war-torn country on Monday.

worldNews reuters.com

Russia's Putin and Egypt's Sisi discuss Middle East tensions in Cairo

CAIRO (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin met Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday for talks on cooperation and tensions in the Middle East following Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

companyNews reuters.com

BRIEF-American Water Announces 2018 Earnings Guidance

* AMERICAN WATER WORKS COMPANY - ‍INVESTING $7.2 BILLION IN REGULATED INFRASTRUCTURE OVER NEXT FIVE YEARS, AN INCREASE OF $1.3 BILLION OVER 2017 FIVE YEAR PLAN​

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Kuwait replaces oil and finance ministers: state news agency

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait replaced its oil and finance ministers in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday, state news agency KUNA reported.

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Britain steps up battle against money laundering

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government said on Monday it will create a new national economic crime center to crack down harder on money laundering by drug dealers and people traffickers who are expected to net 90 billion pounds ($120.3 billion) this year.

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Russians want to compete at Olympics, even as neutrals, says official

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Most Russian athletes want to go to next year's Winter Olympic Games even though they would have to compete as neutrals, an official of the country's Olympic committee said on Monday.

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Indonesia races to contain diphtheria outbreak ahead of 2018 Asian Games

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Health authorities in Jakarta kicked off a special immunization program on Monday to rein in an "extraordinary" outbreak of diphtheria that has sparked concerns about the Indonesian capital’s readiness to host the Asian Games next June. Diphtheria cases have spiked 42 percent since last year, health officials say, with at least 32 deaths and more than 590 cases recorded across the archipelago, the bulk of them in densely populated Jakarta and neighboring provinces.

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India's Rahul Gandhi appointed president of Congress party

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's main opposition party Congress on Monday appointed Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the country's most fabled political dynasty, as its president, the party announced.

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Putin orders Russian forces to start pulling out of Syria

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Russian forces in Syria to start withdrawing, saying that after a two year military campaign, Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying Islamic State.

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S.African prosecutors extend deadline for Zuma to file arguments over revived graft charges

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Monday it had extended the deadline for President Jacob Zuma to submit arguments on why he should not be prosecuted for corruption.

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Russian military chief criticizes U.S., Japan and South Korea drills

TOKYO (Reuters) - Russia's military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region.

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Situation on Korean Peninsula risks moving into 'hot phase': Ifax cites Russian foreign minister

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The situation on the Korean Peninsula risks to move into a "hot phase", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Monday, the Interfax news agency reported.

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Merkel, Social Democrats seek clarity on coalition talks

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) say they hope to find clarity soon on prospects for a new ruling coalition as they gear up for exploratory talks this week.

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U.S.-backed Syrian forces, Iraqi army coordinate at border: SDF

BEIRUT (Reuters) - U.S.-backed militias in Syria said they have set up a joint military center with the Iraqi army to protect their common border region after ousting Islamic State.

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Indonesia detains 18 in pre-emptive bid to boost Christmas security

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian anti-terrorism police have detained 18 people with links to militant groups in a bid to cut the risk of attacks during Christmas and the New Year in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, police said on Monday.

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Saudi Arabia says cinemas will be allowed from early 2018

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Monday that public cinemas would be allowed in the conservative kingdom and the first cinemas were likely to open early next year.

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U.S. citizen on the run after busting out of Bali prison

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesian police are hunting for a U.S. citizen who escaped on Monday from an overcrowded prison on the holiday island of Bali by cutting through steel bars in a ceiling, the jail's second breakout of foreign inmates this year.

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RPT-COLUMN-The boldest market call for 2018? The consensus: McGeever

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Credit markets should brace for a U.S. recession, the U.S. yield curve will invert and growth in America will reach President Trump's lofty and oft-derided target of 4 percent.

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Indian police arrests French journalist after filming in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Indian police arrested a freelance French journalist in Kashmir for violating visa regulations, the city police chief said, after he was found filming for a documentary without permission.

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Indian police file sexual assault case against airline passenger for allegedly molesting Bollywood actress

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian police have filed a sexual assault case against an airline passenger after a 17-year-old Bollywood actress said the male passenger had molested her during a late New Delhi-Mumbai flight, police said on Monday.

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Bahraini civil society group under pressure after Israel visit

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Bahraini civil society group has defended sending a delegation to Israel as a gesture of tolerance and coexistence, state news agency BNA has reported, after news of the visit sparked wide anger on social media.

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Buoyed by mayoral votes, Venezuela's socialists eye 2018 presidency race

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro set his sights on Venezuela's 2018 presidential election after the ruling Socialist Party predictably dominated mayoral polls with the help of a partial boycott by a demoralized opposition.

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China starts formal legal proceedings against disgraced senior politician

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's prosecutor began on Monday formal legal proceedings against disgraced senior politician Sun Zhengcai, once considered a contender for top leadership, who has been accused of corruption and other crimes.

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Venezuela socialists winning local vote, Maduro joyous

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government was on course to sweep Venezuela's nationwide mayoral elections on Sunday, deepening opposition disarray and strengthening his hand ahead of a likely 2018 re-election campaign.

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China, Taiwan spar over Chinese diplomat's invasion threat

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) - A threat by a senior Chinese diplomat to invade Taiwan the instant any U.S. warship visits the self-ruled island has sparked a war of words, with Taipei accusing Beijing of failing to understand what democracy means.

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With foes abstaining, Venezuela mayoral contests to boost socialists

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelans voted on Sunday in mayoral races that the ruling Socialist Party looked sure to sweep, deepening opposition disarray and strengthening President Nicolas Maduro ahead of a probable 2018 re-election campaign.

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With foes abstaining, Venezuela mayoral contests look set to boost Socialists

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelans voted on Sunday in mayoral races that the ruling Socialist Party looked sure to sweep, deepening opposition disarray and strengthening President Nicolas Maduro ahead of a probable 2018 re-election campaign.

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China's top paper says Australian media reports are racist

BEIJING (Reuters) - Australian media reports on Chinese interference in Australia are racist and paranoid, China's top newspaper said on Monday, stepping up a war of words over concerns in Australia about Chinese influence in the country.

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Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias push towards Idlib province

AMMAN (Reuters) - The Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias backed by Russian air power stepped up a military campaign against rebels in eastern Hama province in a push towards the rebel stronghold of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, rebels and witnesses said.

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Berlin police say bags of bullets found near Christmas market not linked to terrorism

BERLIN (Reuters) - There is no reason to suspect that two bags of bullets found near a Christmas market and mosque in western Berlin have anything to do with terrorism and the find was related neither to the market nor to the mosque, police said on Sunday.

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Mexican opposition leader Anaya to seek presidency in coalition

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican opposition leader Ricardo Anaya said on Sunday he would seek to win the presidency in a left-right alliance after stepping down as head of the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

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Grounded ferry in Calais refloated, passengers disembarked

LILLE, France (Reuters) - A P&O ferry with more than 300 people on board which had run aground in Calais harbor in northern France has been refloated and all passengers have disembarked, a P&O Ferries spokesman said on Sunday.

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Leaders Manchester City beat United on Premier League derby day

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City beat Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday to stretch their Premier League lead to 11 points while Liverpool and Everton drew 1-1 in a snowswept Merseyside derby at Anfield.

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Thousands of Romanians protest against proposed judicial reforms

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Thousands of Romanians rallied in the capital Bucharest and other cities on Sunday, protesting against plans by the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) to overhaul the country's judicial system which is seen as undermining efforts to combat corruption.

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Honduras tribunal says partial vote recount shows same result

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras' electoral tribunal said on Sunday that a partial recount of votes from the disputed presidential election showed broadly the same result as previously, giving the lead to current President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

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Kenya's opposition says postpones 'swearing-in' of alternative president

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition said on Sunday it had postponed plans to swear in its leader Raila Odinga as an alternative president, easing political tensions and opening a window for possible talks with the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Qatar goes ahead with $6.7 billion Typhoon combat jets deal with UK's BAE Systems

LONDON (Reuters) - BAE Systems and Qatar have entered into a contract valued at around 5 billion pounds ($6.7 billion) for the country to buy 24 Typhoon combat aircraft, the British defense group said on Sunday.

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Thousands of Saakashvili supporters stage protest against Ukraine president

KIEV (Reuters) - Several thousand people marched through central Kiev on Sunday to protest against the detention of Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili and call for the impeachment of President Petro Poroshenko.

cnn.com

Rep. Schiff: Evidence of Russian collusion is damning

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) says the signs of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign are damning.

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Pakistan says over 300 Baloch separatist militants surrender

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - More than 300 Baloch separatist militants have surrendered over the past few months, Pakistani government officials said, after a ceremony to mark the downing of guns and militants' return to civilian life.

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Dover-bound P&O ferry runs aground in Calais, no injuries

LILLE, France (Reuters) - A P&O ferry with more than 200 passengers on board has run aground in stormy weather in Calais harbor in northern France, but there are no injuries, the Pas-de-Calais prefecture said on Sunday.

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P&O ferry runs aground in Calais, no injuries: prefecture

LILLE, France (Reuters) - A ferry with more than 200 passengers on board has run aground in stormy weather in Calais harbor in northern France, but there are no injuries, the Pas-de-Calais prefecture said on Sunday.

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Catalan separatists to lose majority in tight election: poll

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Catalonia's independence movement could suffer a serious setback in elections this month, according to a poll published on Sunday, which suggests separatist parties will narrowly fail to secure a majority in the regional parliament.

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Philippines' Duterte to seek one-year extension of Mindanao martial law

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will ask Congress to extend martial law in the volatile southern island of Mindanao to quell an insurgency, cabinet officials said on Sunday.

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After Brexit, UK aims for trade deal with EU that tops Canada pact

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is aiming to secure a comprehensive free trade deal with the European Union and wants it to be signed shortly after it leaves the bloc in 2019, Brexit minister David Davis said on Sunday.

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Pope prays for nuclear disarmament

MILAN (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday called on world leaders to work in favor of nuclear disarmament to protect human rights, particularly those of weaker and underprivileged people.

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UK's Johnson meets Iran president as he lobbies for jailed aid worker

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held almost an hour of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday after flying to Tehran to seek the release of a jailed British-Iranian aid worker.

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Nobel peace laureate group urges nuclear powers to adopt ban-the-bomb treaty

OSLO (Reuters) - The leader of the group that won this year's Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday urged nuclear nations to adopt a United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons in order to prevent "the end of us".

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Yemen's Saleh buried in Sanaa with handful of relatives present: sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen's Houthi group has buried the body of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, allowing only a handful of relatives to attend, sources from his General People's Congress (GPC) party said on Sunday.

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Three arrested after attempted arson attack at Swedish synagogue

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Three people were arrested early on Sunday after an attempted arson attack at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority said.

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Syrian government returns to Geneva talks, Western envoys skeptical

GENEVA (Reuters) - The Syrian government's delegation returned to Geneva on Sunday for the resumption of talks with United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura after more than a week's absence, but Western diplomats voiced scepticism about its willingness to engage.

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Israel says it has destroyed Hamas attack tunnel from Gaza

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli forces on Sunday destroyed a "significant" cross-border attack tunnel from the Gaza Strip, which the military said was being dug by the enclave's dominant Islamist group, Hamas.

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Britain offered 'statement of intent' on Irish border to unlock talks: Davis

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Brexit minister David Davis described the government's pledge to prevent any return to a hard border with Ireland after Britain leaves the European Union as "a statement of intent" rather than a legally binding move.

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Trump's Jerusalem decision could help militants: UAE's Sheikh Mohammed

DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital could provide a lifeline to militants after the setbacks they suffered this year, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has warned.

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Japan, U.S., South Korea to hold missile tracking drill amid North Korea crisis

TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold two days of missile tracking drills this week, Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force said on Sunday, as tensions rise in the region over North Korea's fast-developing weapons programs.

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Thousands march in Tel Aviv to protest against Netanyahu, corruption

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday for the second consecutive week against government corruption and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under criminal investigation over allegations of abuse of office.

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Argentina blocks two activists from entry on eve of WTO meeting

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina blocked two European activists from entering the country on the eve of the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires, the two told a local radio program on Saturday.

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United 2026 bid needs to build support for U.S. not stadiums

TORONTO (Reuters) - The heads of a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup trumpeted a winning plan on Saturday that technically ticks most if not all the boxes FIFA wants, but could miss the mark when it comes to winning friends.

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German conservatives reject 'United States of Europe' ahead of coalition talks

BERLIN (Reuters) - Senior members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on Saturday rejected the vision for a "United States of Europe" put forward by the Social Democrats (SPD), with whom they are hoping to form a governing coalition.

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U.N. says missiles fired at Saudi Arabia have 'common origin'

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations officials have found that missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi rebels appear to have a "common origin," but they are still investigating U.S. and Saudi claims that Iran supplied them, according to a confidential report.

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Norway's Liberal Party seeks to join government

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Liberal Party will launch formal negotiations to join the right-wing cabinet of Prime Minister Erna Solberg, it said on Saturday, although the government would still be ruling in a minority even if the small centrist group is included.

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Brazil's PSDB picks Sao Paulo Gov. Alckmin to lead it into 2018 race

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party, or PSDB, elected four-time Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin as its leader on Saturday, making him its most likely presidential nominee in next year's elections.

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Lebanon's Hariri denounces Iraqi Shi'ite paramilitary's visit to border

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The head of an Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia has visited Lebanon's border with Israel accompanied by Hezbollah fighters, a video released on Saturday showed, in a show of Iranian influence that Lebanon's prime minister called illegal.

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Libya and Italy to set up operations room to tackle migrant smuggling

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's U.N.-backed government agreed with Italy on Saturday to establish a joint operations room for tackling migrant smugglers and traffickers as part of efforts to curb migrant flows toward Europe, according to a statement.

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Russia says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Saturday it was fully committed to a Cold War-era pact with the United States banning intermediate-range cruise missiles, a day after Washington accused Moscow of violating the treaty.

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UK's Johnson in Iran talks to lobby for jailed aid worker

DUBAI (Reuters) - British foreign minister Boris Johnson held talks on Saturday with his Iranian counterpart and other officials, during a visit to Iran where he is expected to seek the release of jailed Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

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Russia fully compliant nuclear missile treaty: deputy foreign minister

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is fully committed to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and plans to continue complying with it, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday.

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Nobel peace laureate group tells U.S., North Korea to negotiate

OSLO (Reuters) - A survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and the leader of the group that won this year's Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday urged the United States and North Korea to tone down their rhetoric and negotiate together to avoid a nuclear strike.

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Erdogan and Macron to urge U.S. to turn back on Jerusalem decision: sources

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan and France's Emmanuel Macron will work together to try to persuade the United States to reconsider its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a Turkish presidential source said on Saturday.

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Iraqi Shi'ite militia leader visits Lebanese-Israeli border

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The head of an Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia has visited Lebanon's border with Israel accompanied by allies from the Lebanese group Hezbollah, a video released on Saturday showed.

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Kenyan lecturers end strike, say deal reached with government

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Lecturers in Kenya's public universities ended a strike on Saturday after reaching agreement with the government over pay and other issues, according to a statement from their union.

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Germany's Gabriel denies report he is eyeing finance minister post

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday denied a report that said the Social Democrat, whose party has agreed to enter talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on forming a coalition, was eyeing the post of finance minister.

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Figureskating: Russia's Zagitova takes gold in debut Grand Prix Final

NAGOYA, Japan (Reuters) - Russian teenager Alina Zagitova took gold in the women's skate at her debut Grand Prix Final on Saturday, while French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron ended the winning streak of Canadian team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

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Britons can change terms of Brexit to diverge from EU: pro-Brexit minister Gove

LONDON (Reuters) - British voters will be able to change the terms of the country's relationship with the European Union after leaving the bloc if they don't like the final Brexit deal, senior cabinet minister and pro-Brexit lawmaker Michael Gove said on Saturday.

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Zimbabwe names diplomat Isaac Moyo as top spy

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has named a former diplomat as the head of its intelligence agency, state-owned newspaper The Herald said on Saturday.

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Iraq is 'totally liberated' from Islamic State: Iraqi armed forces

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has been "totally liberated" from Islamic State, the Iraqi armed forces announced in a statement on Saturday.

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Russia's delayed Nureyev ballet to test Kremlin tolerance

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Bolshoi Theatre ballet about the life of Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev set to premiere on Saturday contains tender scenes of gay romance, testing the Kremlin's tolerance for what it calls "homosexual propaganda".

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Czech PM designate: EU should not push us over migrants - paper

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The designated Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that the European Union should not push Czechs over their refusal to shelter asylum-seekers, because it could strengthen extremist parties in the country.

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UK foreign minister arrives in Iran to lobby for jailed aid worker

DUBAI (Reuters) - British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson arrived on Saturday in Iran, where he is expected to lobby his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif for the release of jailed Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

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UPDATE 1-#NoRussiaNoGames: Twitter "bots" boost Russian backlash against Olympic ban

* But automated, semi-automated Twitter accounts amplify reach

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Indians vote in first stage of election seen as acid test for Modi

SURENDRANAGAR, India (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Indians voted in the first stage of assembly elections in the western state of Gujarat on Saturday, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces his toughest electoral test since coming to power with a landslide victory in 2014.

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Nepal leftist alliance appears heading for election victory

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A leftist alliance between Nepal’s former Maoist rebels and moderate communists appeared to be heading for a victory in elections aimed at completing a transition to democracy after the abolition of the monarchy and end to civil war.

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Mexico right-left coalition presents bid to run in 2018 election

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's newest political force formally emerged on Friday when a right-left coalition presented its official request with the electoral institute to compete in next year's presidential election.

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Golf: McIlroy to undertake busy build-up to 2018 Masters

(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has announced he will play at least seven events in early 2018 in a busy build-up to the U.S. Masters, where he will attempt to complete the grand slam of major titles in April.

cnn.com

US concerned Russian aircraft behavior over Syria could spark clash

Amid what it sees as an increase in unsafe behavior by the Russian military, the US military is concerned it might have to shoot down a Russian aircraft over Syria if the Russian plane is seen as a threat to US or coalition forces fighting ISIS.

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Japan arrests North Korean crew amid mystery boat arrivals

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese police arrested three crew of a North Korean boat on Saturday for stealing a generator from a hut on an uninhabited island, public broadcaster NHK said, the latest drama amid increasing arrivals of North Korean fishing boats off Japan.

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Mexican president asks Senate to broaden discussion over security bill

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday asked Senate lawmakers to include civil society's views in their discussion of a divisive bill that critics say would give the military greater powers and deepen its role in the country's drug war.

cnn.com

Russian operatives tried to contact Hope Hicks, NYT reports

Russian operatives tried to correspond with adviser Hope Hicks multiple times after Donald Trump's 2016 election victory, prompting the FBI to caution Hicks, people familiar with the events told The New York Times.

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In push for Yemen aid, U.S. warned Saudis of threats in Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has warned Saudi Arabia that concern in Congress over the humanitarian situation in Yemen could constrain U.S. assistance, as it pushed Riyadh to allow greater access for humanitarian aid, a U.S. official said on Friday.

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U.S. envoy for North Korean affairs travels to Japan, Thailand

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. envoy for North Korea will travel to Japan and Thailand next week to discuss how to increase pressure on Pyongyang after its latest ballistic missile test, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

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Protesters gather in Kiev after police recapture ex-Georgia leader Saakashvili

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian police recaptured the former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili on Friday, prompting further protests in central Kiev by his supporters who freed him from police custody earlier this week.

cnn.com

Inside Mar-a-lago for 48 hours critical to the Russia investigation

The answer to one of the most critical questions at the heart of the Russia investigation may well lie in the grand hallways of Mar-a-Lago.

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Ukrainian police recapture former Georgian leader Saakashvili

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's general prosecutor said on Friday police had recaptured the former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who was freed from police custody by his supporters in dramatic scenes earlier this week.

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Rebels kill 15 peacekeepers in Congo in worst attack on U.N. in recent history

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Suspected Ugandan rebels killed at least 15 Tanzanian U.N. peacekeepers and wounded 53 others in a raid on a base in Congo that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called the worst attack on the organization in recent history.

Hicks, Hope C (1988- ) nytimes.com

F.B.I. Warned Hope Hicks About Emails From Russian Operatives

Top counterintelligence agents met with Ms. Hicks, one of President Trump’s closest advisers, to urge caution about Russian outreach efforts.

Syria nytimes.com

In Syria’s Skies, Close Calls With Russian Warplanes

American air commanders complain that the Russians are flouting their agreements aimed at avoiding midair collisions.