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Journalists in Syria Face Growing Risk of Kidnap

Beirut - Behind a veil of secrecy, at least 30 journalists have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Syria - held and threatened with death by extremists or taken captive by gangs seeking ransom. The widespread seizure of journalists is unprecedented, and has been largely unreported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help to negotiate the captives' release ...

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Survivors ‘Walk like Zombies’ after Philippine Typhoon Kills Estimated 10,000

Manila - One of the most powerful storms ever recorded killed at least 10,000 people in the central Philippines, a senior police official said on Sunday, with huge waves sweeping away coastal villages and devastating one of the main cities in the region. Super typhoon Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province on Friday, said police chief superintende ...

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India PM to Skip Sri Lanka Summit amid War Crimes Row

New Delhi - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will skip a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Sri Lanka this week marred by long-running accusations that Colombo has failed to resolve the issue of war crimes against minority Tamils. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already said he would boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that Sri Lanka is hosting from November 15 to 17. ...

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Hundreds Rally Against Security Pact with US

KABUL - Hundreds of opposition political activists on Sunday warned of kicking up a storm of protests if a security pact allowing the continued US military presence in the country was signed. At a protest sponsored by the United National Front in Kabul, they said signing the bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the United States would amount to a compromise on the supreme national interest. Included reli ...

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Syrian Opposition Wants Rebel Backing for Geneva Talks

Demacus - Syria's opposition is edging towards agreeing to international peace talks in Geneva but wants approval from fighters inside the country first to give the process more legitimacy, sources at talks in Istanbul said late on Saturday. The leadership of the Syrian National Coalition is meeting to agree its stance on the so-called "Geneva 2" talks, which aim to end Syria's two-and-a-half year civil war ...

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Civilian Casualties up By 60pc in Western Zone

HERAT CITY - Civilian casualties rose by 60 percent in western Afghanistan over the past 10 months, when 230 women and children were killed in roadside bomb explosions alone, a UN official said on Sunday. During the period, 736 civilians were killed in Herat, Farah, Ghor and Badghis provinces, UNAMA’s Human Rights Director Georgette Gagnon told a press conference at the Afghanistan Human Rights Commission ( ...

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Afghan Forces’ Causalities Higher Than Last Year: Officials

Kabul- The Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) saw a dramatic rise in casualties this year, but not as much as was previously claimed, according to Afghan security officials. Afghan forces were applauded by foreign and Afghan officials for their performance this year, which saw nearly all responsibility for security around the country placed on their shoulders and an aggressive Talib ...

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The Marathon of Geneva Negotiations

Negotiators from Iran and the world powers have had busy days in Geneva, negotiating over Iran’s nuclear programs. In flurry of diplomatic efforts, foreign ministers of 5+1 group of world powers, including five permanent members of the UN and Germany, flown to the Geneva after signs of progress in the negotiations appeared. Both sides have expressed optimisms for reaching a deal over Iran’s nuclear programs ...

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British Lawmakers to Quiz Snowden Leaks Newspaper Editor

London- British lawmakers will question the editor of the Guardian newspaper next month over publishing intelligence files from U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden after warnings from security chiefs that the leaks damaged UK national security. Alan Rusbridger will appear before the House of Commons home affairs select committee, the Guardian said. "Alan has been invited to give evidence to the ... co ...

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Iran, Powers Extend Talks to Clinch Elusive Nuclear Deal

Geneva - Iran and six world powers extended high-stakes talks over Tehran's nuclear program into an unscheduled third day on Saturday, as their top diplomats labored to hammer out a long-sought deal to end a decade-old standoff. The United States and Iran were cautious and tight-lipped after a five-hour trilateral meeting between their foreign ministers and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Asht ...

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Initiative Exchange Program of Afghan-Pak Civil Society Organizations

In order to enable civil society actors from Afghan-Pak to engage in dialogues on issues of mutual interest, including peace building, reconciliation and trust building; Counterpart’s I-PACS team organized an exchange visit on the month of May for Afghan youth civil society leaders to Pakistan and in continues to the Afghan side visit, last week a team of 16 Pakistani civil society delegates visited Afghani ...

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‘Massive Destruction’ as Typhoon Flattens Philippine City, Kills at Least 100

Manila - One of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west and devastated central provinces, killing at least 100 people in a surge of flood water, officials said on Saturday. The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan is expected to rise sharply as rescue workers reach areas cut off by the fast-moving storm, whose circumference eclip ...

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Growing New Zealand Backlash Targets Online Sex Braggarts

Wellington - Anger is growing in New Zealand against a group of teenagers who bragged on Facebook about having sex with drunk, underage girls, with nationwide public protests being planned for next week. The small South Pacific country has been rocked in the week since disclosure of the activities of a group of 17- and 18-year olds two years ago in Auckland, its biggest city. The men called themselves the R ...

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Somali Islamists Take Responsibility for Mogadishu Hotel Bombing

Mogadishu - Islamist al Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility on Saturday for a bomb that killed six people outside a popular Mogadishu hotel the day before, and said they deliberately targeted government officials and security forces. Police suspected the militants were behind the blast, the latest in a series of frequent attacks in the Somali capital that highlight the challenge the government faces in re ...

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Bangladesh Set for Yet another Shutdown In Election Row

Dhaka - The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Saturday announced another 84-hour nationwide strike, starting on Sunday, after police arrested BNP leaders, triggering violent protests across the country. The aim of the strike is to force the ruling Awami League to hold elections, due by January at the latest, under a non-partisan caretaker government. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedl ...

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China Opens Key Meeting to Set Economic Reform Agenda

Beijing - Chinese leaders began a four-day secret meeting on Saturday to set a reform agenda for the next decade as they try to push more sustainable growth after three decades of breakneck expansion, amid signs of continuing debate on how to implement change. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang must unleash new growth drivers as the world's second-largest economy loses steam, burdened by industrial ...

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U.S. ‘Working Tirelessly’ to Restore UNESCO Funding: Ambassador

Washington - The U.S. government is working hard to get Congress to restore its UNESCO funding, Washington's ambassador to the U.N. cultural arm said on Saturday, after its voting rights were suspended over failure to pay up. UNESCO's granting the Palestinians membership two years ago led to the United States stopping its dues and, on Friday, the organization suspended U.S. voting rights as well as Israel's ...

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India Fears More Militants as US Quits Afghanistan

New Delhi-  India is bracing for more militancy in the battle-scarred region of Kashmir, believing that fighters now focused on resisting U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan will shift toward the Himalayan flashpoint with Pakistan. Some say increased violence recently along India's heavily militarized border with Pakistan proves that shift is already underway. As a result, India is increasing use of drones, ther ...

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Pentagon Concerned at Rebel Safe Havens in Pakistan

WASHINGTON - Pakistan has lately demonstrated a willingness to cooperate in some areas with regard to Afghanistan, the Pentagon acknowledged on Friday, saying a series challenges remain in the field of IEDs and safe havens across the border. “There are limits to Pakistan’s cooperation,” the Department of Defense said in its six monthly report to Congress, as it listed recent efforts by the Nawaz Sharif gove ...

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Graft Charges: Minister Satisfies MPs

KABUL - The Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of the parliament, on Saturday expressed its satisfaction with Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Jamahir Anwary’s response to allegations of corruption and irregularities in his ministry. The assembly had summoned Anwary over graft, including embezzlement of funds meant for clearing the ministry’s power bills, official trip expenses and other purposes, anomalies ...

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