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Suspected Egyptian Militants Raise Stakes in Insurgency

CAIRO- The bombing of a tourist bus in Egypt by suspected Muslim militants marks a strategic shift to soft targets that could devastate an economy already reeling from political turmoil. The assailants, who killed two South Koreans and an Egyptian on Sunday, chose their area of operation shrewdly - a poorly guarded buffer zone in the south Sinai between Egypt and Israel. Although casualties were relatively ...

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Kerry Blames Assad Government for Failure of Latest Syria Peace Talks

JAKARTA- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the Assad government for stalling Syrian peace talks and pressed Russia to stop supplying it weapons, telling Moscow it needed to be part of the solution. International mediator LakhdarBrahimi said in Geneva on Saturday that the first two rounds of peace talks had not made much progress but that the two sides had agreed on an agenda for a third round at an ...

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China Concerned At Japan Holding Weapons-Grade Plutonium

BEIJING-  China said on Monday it was "extremely concerned" by a report that Japan has resisted returning to the United States more than 300 kg (660 lb) of mostly weapons-grade plutonium, the latest dispute between the two Asian neighbors. Japan's Kyodo news agency said that Washington had pressed Japan to give back the nuclear material which could be used to make up to 50 nuclear bombs. Japan had resisted, ...

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Syria Peace Talk’s Failure Spurs U.S.-Russia Recriminations

JAKARTA/MOSCOW- The United States accused Damascus on Monday of paralyzing Geneva peace negotiations, while Russia denied that and said nations backing Syrian rebels were leaning toward trying to end the civil war on the battlefield rather than in talks. A second round of talks in Geneva broke up on Saturday with chief mediator LakhdarBrahimi lamenting a failure to advance much beyond agreement on an agenda ...

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North Korea’s Kim Warned He Might Face Charges Over Atrocities

Geneva- North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities, U.N. investigators said on Monday. The investigators told Kim in a letter they were advising the United Nations to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to make sure any c ...

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IECC Names 19 Disqualified PC Runners

KABUL - The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) on Monday announced the names of 19 provincial council candidates removed from the final list.They are Rehana Pajohish from Bamyan; Syed Sharafatullah Aslami, Zabihullah Mukhlis and Hamidullah Jaijoon from Badakhshan; Syed Mohammad Bashir Niazai from Jawzjan; Niamatullah Amiri from Daikundi; and Saifur Rahman Rahmani from Samangan. Also struck o ...

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Ahmadzai Speaks on Long-lasting Security

Kabul- Presidential contender Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai on Monday said that he would seek cooperation of religious scholars to restore long-lasting peace and security in Afghanistan. As election campaigns enter their sixteenth day, the candidates are struggling to seek public support. Recently former Kabul mayor Hajji Din Mohammad Mujahid along with 3,000 supporters endorsed Ghani-Ahmadzai's candidacy in the up ...

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Civil Society Claims Fines for Candidates Too Small

Kabul- Civil society activists on Monday claimed that the fines mandated by the Election Law for violations were insignificant amounts, making it easy for candidates to pay the fines and continue their wrongdoing. Based on the election law, the candidates are allowed to spend no more than 10 million on their campaigns. Going beyond this amount is a violation of the election law, and the Electoral Complaints ...

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UN Refugee Chief to Visit Iran for Talks about Afghans

New York - UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres visits Iran on Monday for talks with officials on the plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, the UNHCR said in a statement. The visit comes ahead of transition in Afghanistan, where a presidential election is due to take place in April and as US-led NATO forces prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014. "With the transition in Afghanistan in 20 ...

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Rassoul: U.S.-Afghan Strains to Ebb as Foreign Forces Withdraw

KABUL - Severe strains in Afghan ties with the United States, the chief backer of the international military mission in Afghanistan, are likely to subside as U.S. and NATO forces depart, a contender in a presidential election in April said. "The long-term stay of any force, in any country, will create a problem. The international community will not stay in Afghanistan forever - they should not stay forever, ...

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Afghan President Responds to Concerns over Law

KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered changes to a draft of new criminal legislation in response to an international outcry warning it would severely limit justice for victims of domestic abuse, his spokesman said Monday. Afghanistan's parliament had passed a new criminal procedure code that would ban relatives from testifying against alleged abusers. While the legislation awaited signature from ...

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Two Withdrawals from Afghanistan

At the anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan 25 years ago, now many Afghans are wondering how another withdrawal of a foreign military occur and how the future will unfold for the war-stricken country. Will the history repeat itself? There are much similarities as well as differences between Afghanistan 25 years ago and Afghanistan in 2014. Given the differences and similarities, there are a ...

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Heavy Snow Kills 12 in Japan, Disrupts Power and Flights

Tokyo- Heavy snow hit Tokyo and other parts of eastern Japan over the weekend, leaving 12 people dead, hundreds of thousands of households without electricity, and causing major disruptions to air and ground traffic.  Tokyo saw as much as 27 cm (10.6 inches) of snow, on par with last weekend's snowstorms, which were the heaviest in 45 years. ANA Holdings, Japan's largest carrier, said 338 domestic flights a ...

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North Korea Prison Camp Survivor Awaits U.N. Report with Hope, Despair

Pyongyang- After a year of investigation, the United Nations is set to release a detailed report on human rights violations in North Korea that could pave the way for criminal prosecution in an international court. But defectors from the country who have provided first-hand testimony of atrocities are deeply skeptical the report, to be issued on Monday, will have any effect on the regime in Pyongyang. The U ...

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EU Chief BarrosoSays Admitting Breakaway States to EU ‘Extremely Difficult’

Brussels- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday it would be nearly impossible for the European Union to agree on granting membership to newly-formed states that elect to break away from an existing member country. Barroso's comments were made after he was asked if an independent Scotland would be welcome to join the EU, although he said he did not want to comment specifically on t ...

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Ukraine Protesters End Kiev City Hall Occupation to Meet Amnesty Offer

Kiev- Scores of Ukrainian anti-government protesters ended a two-month-old occupation of city hall in the capital Kiev on Sunday to meet a government amnesty offer. Demonstrators had swept into the main municipal building in early December as a popular revolt mushroomed against President Viktor Yanukovich's decision to ditch a trade pact with the European Union in favor of cultivating close economic ties wi ...

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Iraq Shi’ite Cleric Who Fought U.S. Forces Says Quitting Politics

Baghdad- Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who led revolts against U.S. forces in Iraq before their pullout and became a major influence in the government, said he is leaving political life and has dissolved his movement.  Sadr gave no reason for the retirement announced via a handwritten statement on his website. But two members of his political bloc Ahrar, which holds roughly an eighth of the seats i ...

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Thai Police Fail to Reach Deal with Protesters

Bangkok- Thai police and a prominent protest leader failed to reach a deal on Sunday to reopen state offices and roads in Bangkok that have been occupied for months by protesters seeking to overthrow Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra. Talks with Buddhist monk LuangPu Buddha Issara, a protest leader, failed to free up an occupied government complex in the north of the capital as a third day of a security ope ...

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Pakistani Taliban Seek Time to Decide on Truce

KABUL - Amid a nascent peace initiative, Pakistan militants have sought for more time to decide on a ceasefire with the government, a negotiator said on Sunday.MaulanaYousaf Shah, coordinator of the Taliban talks committee, told a private TV channel that the two sides would be able to agree soon on a truce. Speaking to Express News, Shah hoped the ongoing dialogue would lead to peace in the country. However ...

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Hezb-E-Islami Endorses Helal in Presidential Election

KABUL - The Hezb-e-Islami insurgent party, led by GulbuddinHekmatyar, endorsed QutbuddinHelal on Saturday to be the next Afghan president, according to a representative of the party.  The decision was taken during a meeting attended by members of the Hezb-e-Islami party, representative GhairatBaheer told TOLOnews. "Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan today officially decided and confirmed the candidacy of QubuddinHel ...

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