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The Jirga of Kandahari Elders

Since last week, dozens of tribal elders from Kandahar Province have been negotiating behind closed-door Jirga (grand assembly) to pick a consensus nominate for the presidential race. The Jirga, which has become nicknamed as the Jirga of the Kandaharis, is to choose between Abdul Qayoum Karzai, a brother to President Hamid Karzai, and Zalmay Rasoul, former foreign minister and also a close ally of the Presi ...

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Egypt’s Sisi to Stay on As Defense Minister: Official

Cairo - Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will keep his post as defense minister in a new government, an official source said on Wednesday, quashing speculation he was about to announce a widely expected bid for the presidency. Sisi is tipped to win the upcoming presidential election but has yet to announce his candidacy. He must vacate the post of defense minister in order to run. The ...

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Reforms, Presidential Vote in Focus after Romania Coalition Splits

Bucharest - Ministers from Romania's Liberals resigned from the government on Wednesday, a day after the party quit the ruling coalition in a break-up that will trigger a confidence vote and has changed the dynamics of a presidential election in November. The rupture has left the rump of Prime Minister Victor Ponta's Social Democrat-led alliance with a slender majority in parliament, which will likely promp ...

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Thai Govt to Offer $615 Million of Debt to Help Fund Rice-Subsidy Scheme

Bangkok - Thailand's caretaker government plans to sell up to 20 billion baht ($615 million) of short-term debt this week to help fund a controversial rice-buying scheme, according to documents seen by Reuters on Wednesday. The Finance Ministry's Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) will auction eight-month, state-backed paper on Thursday, according to a letter sent by the PDMO inviting the Metropolitan Wat ...

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U.S. Warns Banks to Watch for Ousted Ukraine Leader Moving Looted Funds

Washington - The U.S. Treasury warned banks on Tuesday to be on the look-out for potentially suspicious transfers of financial assets by Ukraine's fugitive President Viktor Yanukovich or members of his inner circle. Yanukovich is on the run after being toppled by bloody street protests in which police snipers killed demonstrators. An advisory from the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) ...

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Turkish Foreign Minister Says World Has Failed Syria

Ankara - Turkey's foreign minister said Syria's worsening war now posed a danger to all countries because President Bashar al-Assad's government had been allowed to continue its "crimes" while jihadists from around the world flooded in to fight him. Ahmet Davutoglu told Reuters a robust international strategy including "real intelligence cooperation" and withdrawal of all foreign fighters was needed to end ...

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Putin Puts Troops in Western Russia on Alert in Drill

Moscow - President Vladimir Putin ordered an urgent drill to test the combat readiness of the armed forces across western Russia on Wednesday, news agencies reported, and flexing Moscow's military muscle amid tension with the West over Ukraine. "In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (0500 ET) today," Interf ...

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Tensions High in Ukraine’s Crimea as Rival Crowds Gather

Kiev - Pro-Russia separatists and supporters of Ukraine's new leaders confronted each other on Wednesday outside Crimea's regional parliament before a debate on the political upheaval that swept away President Viktor Yanukovich. About 2,000 people, many of them ethnic Tatars who are the indigenous group on the Black Sea peninsula, converged on the parliament building to support the 'Euro-Maidan' movement wh ...

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Karzai in No Hurry to Ink Security Pact: Faizi

KABUL - President Hamid Karzai, insisting on the practical launch of a meaningful peace process, is no hurry to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, his spokesman said on Wednesday. In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Aimal Faizi said: “We aren’t in a hurry to conclude the security pact…” Kabul insisted on launching a practical reconciliation process, he said, ...

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Dempsey in Afghanistan as US Mulls Pullout

KABUL - Amid talk of contingency plans for a total military pullout, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the military said. Absent a signed security deal post 2014, President Barack Obama has directed the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal should the US not keep any troops in the country. Dempsey told reporters tr ...

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Obama Warns Afghan President of Full Troop Withdrawal

KABUL - President Barack Obama told Hamid Karzai that he is now planning for a full US troop withdrawal because of the Afghan leader's repeated refusal to sign a security pact. But in a rare telephone call with President Karzai, Obama also held out the possibility of agreeing a post-2014 training and anti-terror mission with the next government in Kabul. The US threat was the latest twist in a long politica ...

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Council of Ministers Bans Importing Low Quality Oil

KABUL - The Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday said that the Council of Ministers has banned the import of semi-refined and low quality oil into Afghanistan. The Spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Musafer Quqandi, said that the semi-refined oil and low quality petrol and diesel will not be imported any more in Afghanistan. Quqandi added that Council of Minister made the decision i ...

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Russia Says no Multilateral Talks on Ukraine Aid Yet

Moscow - No multilateral talks are being held on forming a financial aid package for Ukraine, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak said on Wednesday, adding that a solution to Kiev's economic crisis must be found quickly. Storchak told Reuters that if any talks were under way on a financial package for Ukraine, they were taking place only at a national level, and that high-level international gro ...

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India Says Drops Anti-Piracy Charges Against Italian Marines

New Delhi- India has dropped a plan to prosecute two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen under a tough anti-piracy law, a government lawyer said on Monday, offering a chance to end a diplomatic row between the two countries. Italy had strongly opposed India invoking the law, arguing that it would amount to treating the men as "terrorists" and last week it recalled its ambassador to New D ...

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Italy’s New PM RenziFaces First Parliamentary Test

Rome- Italian Prime Minister MatteoRenzi faces his first test before a fractious national parliament on Monday when he goes to the Senate to put flesh on ambitious reform plans and seeks to win a confidence vote in his newly installed government. Backed by his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the small centre-right NCD party, centrists and other miscellaneous groups, he should win the vote in the 320- ...

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China Seeks Jailed Former Tycoon Who Fled Country

Beijing - Chinese authorities are looking for a former drinks tycoon who bribed his way out of jail and fled the country after being sentenced to 15 years in prison for embezzling millions of dollars in public funds, state media said on Monday. Zhang Hai, former president and chief executive of the sports drink maker Jianlibao Group, was found guilty of misappropriating 206 million yuan ($33.82 million) in ...

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Thai PM Rules Out Resigning as Bombs, Gunfire Punctuate Unrest

Bangkok- Thai Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra, the target of anti-government protests in Bangkok, has been staying outside the city and on Monday ruled out resigning despite a series of deadly attacks heaping pressure on her administration. Yingluck, who attended a trade show in Saraburi province, 100 km (60 miles) north of Bangkok, called for dialogue to resolve a crisis that has dragged on for months, w ...

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Egypt Government Resigns, Paving Way for Sisito Seek Presidency

Cairo- Egypt’s government has resigned, the prime minister said on Monday, paving the way for army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president of a strategic U.S. ally gripped by political strife. "(The government) made every effort to get Egypt out of the narrow tunnel in terms of security, economic pressures and political confusion," Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said ...

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China Denounces Appointment of U.S. Special Coordinator on Tibet

Beijing - China will never recognize the United States' appointment of a special coordinator for Tibetan issues, China's foreign ministry said on Monday, saying it opposes any foreign intervention in its internal affairs. President Barack Obama held low-key talks with the Dalai Lama on Friday, prompting condemnation and warnings from the Chinese government that the meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual ...

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Arsala Reaches Understanding With Sherzai

KABUL - Presidential contender Hedayat Amin Arsala on Monday said he had entered an alliance with Gul Agha Sherzai, but the move did not mean he had pulled out of the presidential race.Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Arsala dismissed rumours about his withdrawal from the electoral fray as baseless. “I am not going to quit in favour of anyone.” The aim of alliance was to ensure fair election and hone ...

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