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U.S. Says ‘Not at All Concerned’ About Japan’s Plutonium

Washington - The United States is not worried about Japan's plutonium stocks, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday, following criticism raised by China in a new dispute between the east Asian neighbors. "We are not at all concerned that the plutonium is either being handled improperly or that there isn't a plan for disposition," Joseph Macmanus, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. nuclear agency, told repor ...

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World Powers Responsible for Failing to Stop Syria War Crimes: U.N.

New York - All sides in Syria's civil war are using shelling and siege tactics to punish and starve civilians and big powers bear responsibility for allowing such war crimes to persist, U.N. human rights investigators said on Wednesday. The independent investigators, presenting their latest report documenting atrocities in Syria, called again on the U.N. Security Council to refer grave violations of the rul ...

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Russia Rebuffs West on Crimea amid Paris Talks

Moscow - Russia rebuffed Western demands to withdraw forces in Ukraine's Crimea region to their bases on Wednesday amid a day of high-stakes diplomacy in Paris aimed at easing tensions over Ukraine and averting the risk of war. The European Union offered Ukraine's new pro-Western government 11 billion euros in financial aid in the next couple of years provided Kiev reaches a deal with the International Mone ...

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Election Campaigns and Rule of Law

Provincial election candidates started a one-month official campaign on Tuesday, only a month to the upcoming election which is due to be held on April 5. Officials at the Electoral Complaints Commission asked the candidates to observe the rules and campaign in a way that would institutionalize and strengthen democratic principles in Afghanistan. The provincial election campaign starts as the campaign of th ...

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Turkey’s Gul Orders Auditors to Assess Capacity to Fight Corruption

Ankara - President Abdullah Gul ordered state auditors on Tuesday to assess Turkey's ability to combat corruption, including in the construction sector, amid a graft investigation that has implicated senior elected officials. In a statement on his website, Gul also said he had instructed the State Supervisory Council to examine regulations governing the wiretapping of communications. "The president has give ...

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Court Bans Activities of Islamist Hamas in Egypt

Cairo - An Egyptian court on Tuesday banned all activities of Hamas in Egypt in a further sign that Cairo's military-backed government aims to squeeze the Palestinian Islamist group that rules neighboring Gaza, regarding it as a security threat. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which has been declared a terrorist group by the authorities and subjected to systematic repression since the ar ...

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No Need to Use Military Force in Ukraine for Now: Putin

Moscow - President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia saw no need to use military force in the Crimea region of Ukraine for now, in remarks apparently intended to ease East-West tension over fears of war in the former Soviet republic. The use of force by Russia in Ukraine would be a choice of last resort, Putin said, and sanctions being considered against Moscow by the West would be counter-producti ...

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New Draft Mining Law Widely Criticised

KABUL - Experts in natural resources and lawmakers, criticising the contents of a new draft mining law currently being debated in the parliament, said if signed into law, the bill would leave far-reaching negative impacts on the sector. The existing mining law containing 12 chapters and 105 articles was approved on November 18, 2008 by a joint parliamentry commission before being signed by the president. Af ...

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Ukraine Crisis: US Position on Afghanistan Unaffected

WASHINGTON - The developments in Ukraine have not changed the US position on a post-2014 presence in Afghanistan, the White House said on Monday. “(On) Afghanistan, our position remains the same,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters during a conference call. She said a remaining US presence in Afghanistan needed the bilateral security agreement to be signed. US President Barack Obama last ...

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Afghanistan’s Mine Sector Can Generate 1 Million Jobs

KABUL - Former minister of mines and petroleum Ibrahim Adil has said the mining sector of Afghanistan has greater potential that can generate one million jobs for the Afghan youth. He expressed optimism that the country’s rich mine sector would ensure bolstering each and every sector of the country during the next 20 years but a proper administration was needed to protect the sector. Adil served as deputy m ...

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India and Pakistan Ramp up Aid as They Jostle for Influence in Kabul

New Delhi - India's most important message for Afghanistan is that it is not leaving, and it is backing that message with the biggest aid package it has ever given another country. Indian diplomats insist the message is meant as reassurance for allies in Afghanistan nervous about waning international support as NATO withdraws its troops. Yet it could equally have been chosen to send a warning to India's arc ...

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Afghan Woman to Receive Int’l Women of Courage Award

WASHINGTON - Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, a prominent leader in the field of maternal health, has been selected for prestigious International Women of the Courage Award by the US. A doctor of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Director of Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul since 2004, Dr. Oryakhil would receive the award from the First Lady, Michelle Obama, at an awards ceremony at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the ...

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President Karzai’s Renewed Anti-US Rhetoric

President Karzai once again criticized the United States in a harsh tone, saying that The latest remarks are considered a renewal of his refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the US despite that it was approved by the Loya Jirga last year. Karzai’s move in intensifying the already tense relations of Afghanistan and the United States seems to be intentional with certain pur ...

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Fighting in Damascus District Halt Aid to Palestinians: U.N.

New York - Fighting in the Damascus district of Yarmouk has interrupted aid distribution to thousands of besieged Palestinian refugees, the United Nations said on Monday. The clashes broke out on Sunday in Yarmouk, where 20,000 people have been trapped for months by Syria's civil war and are dependent on humanitarian supplies delivered by UNRWA, the U.N. agency which supports Palestinian refugees. The Syria ...

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After Vacating Bangkok’s Streets, Thai Protesters Look to Courts

Bangkok - Anti-government protesters in Thailand have retreated to a central Bangkok park, freeing up traffic after blocking big intersections for more than a month, but Thailand's four-month political crisis looks no closer to a solution. The protesters, who moved to Lumpini Park on the weekend after orders from their leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, are banking on judicial intervention from courts widely seen a ...

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North Korea Tests More Missiles amid South Korea-US Exercises

Pyongyang - North Korea has test-fired two more short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast, South Korean defence ministry officials say, amid ongoing South Korea-US military exercises. Officials in Seoul said the missiles flew more than 500km (300 miles). Pyongyang also test-fired four similar missiles late last week. North Korea often carries out short-range missiles tests to show its anger at mi ...

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Russian Foreign Minister Tells West to Put Ukrainian People First

Moscow - Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday rejected accusations that Russia is acting aggressively toward Ukraine and accused the West of putting its own "geopolitical calculations" ahead of the fate of the people in the former Soviet republic. At a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva, Lavrov tried to turn the tables following a hail of Western criticism after President Vladimir Putin secured permiss ...

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Obama Warns of ‘Fallout’ for Israel if Peace Effort Fails

Washington - President Barack Obama, issuing a veiled warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of talks, said in an interview published on Sunday it would be harder for Washington to defend Israel against efforts to isolate it internationally if U.S.-led Middle East peace talks fail. Obama, speaking to Bloomberg View, also made clear that he would press Netanyahu to allow him the time ...

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Russian Markets Hit as Putin Tightens Grip on Crimea

Moscow - Russia took a financial hit over its military intervention in neighboring Ukraine, with its markets and currency plunging on Monday as President Vladimir Putin's forces tightened their grip on the Russian-speaking Crimea region. The Moscow stock market fell by 10 percent and the central bank spent $10 billion of its reserves to prop up the rouble as investors took fright at escalating tensions with ...

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EU to Urge Mediation with Russia over Ukraine

Brussles - European Union foreign ministers will push on Monday for high-level mediation to resolve the crisis over Russia's invasion of Crimea, while threatening the possibility of sanctions if Russia does not back down. In emergency talks convened after Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the Crimean peninsula and said he had the right to invade Ukraine, ministers will try to strike a balance between ...

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