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Britain Picks Diplomat to Head Spy Agency at Center of Snowden Leaks

London - Britain said on Tuesday it had picked a diplomat to head its GCHQ eavesdropping agency which has found itself under unprecedented public scrutiny because of documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Britain announced in January that the agency's current chief, Iain Lobban, would be standing down after six years in charge of Britain's equivalent of America's National Se ...

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Germany Hands over Hydropower Schemes to Afghan Partners

KABUL - The German government officially handed over two small hydropower schemes in northeastern Badakhshan province to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water the other day, said a statement by the German Cooperation with Afghanistan. The power schemes will be operated and maintained by the Afghanistan’s national power company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the statement said. After the signin ...

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Senators Ask Govt to Find Mutasim’s Whereabouts

KABUL - A number of senators on Tuesday asked the government to intensify efforts at knowing the fate of a veteran Taliban leader Agha Jan Mutasim, who has been missing in the UAE. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoI) on Monday confirmed Agha Jan, who had launched a dialogue process with the Kabul administration, had gone missing in the gulf country. Some Meshrano Jirga or upper house members said the gove ...

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Republicans in Kabul to Push for Troops’ Stay

KABUL - Leading a delegation of Republican lawmakers, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, has been in Kabul since Sunday to underscore their call for US forces to remain and review the April 5 presidential election, Boehner's office said on Monday. Boehner and seven other House Republicans met with US troops, the US ambassador and the commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan dur ...

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IEC to Re-Evaluate Ballots

KABUL - Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the decision of the commission is to re-evaluate votes of some polling centers to distinguish genuine votes from forged votes. IEC officials said 94.4 percent of votes nationwide and important elections materials have arrived to the IEC headquarters in Kabul. Officials said security forces were on high alert to ensure election materials wer ...

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The Post-Election Taliban Insurgency

The surprising turnout of the voters in the weekend’s presidential elections was a clear ‘no’ to the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In contrast to what is narrated through the media, the ‘no’ votes of the citizens to the Taliban were not limited to the Election Day. Before the elections, the show-ups of the people in the provinces were a clear sign that the people would participate in large numbers in ...

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Russia, China Aim to Finish Gas Talks before Putin’s May Visit: Media

Moscow - Russia and China aim to wrap up a 10-year series of talks about Russian gas supplies before President Vladimir Putin visits China in May, media quoted the deputy prime minister as saying on Monday. The Russian deputy premier, Arkady Dvorkovich, also said China is interested in alternative energy projects on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March. Moscow and Beiji ...

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Ukraine President Threatens Military Operation as Unrest Grows

Kiev - Ukraine's president on Monday threatened military action after pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east ignored an ultimatum to leave and another group of rebels attacked a police headquarters in the troubled region. Acting president Oleksander Turchinov also held out the possibility of a referendum on the future shape of the Ukrainian state, partly addressing demands made i ...

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Nigeria Violence: ‘Seventy Killed’ in Abuja Bus Blasts

Abuja – More than 70 people have been killed in two blasts that rocked a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, an official says. The blast happened as commuters were about to board buses and taxis to go to work in central Abuja, the BBC's Haruna Tangaza reports. Eyewitnesses say there are dead bodies scattered around the area. This may have been another attack by the Islamist mil ...

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Floods Sweep Away More Houses in Badakhshan

FAIZABAD - Triggering by heavy rains, flash floods in northeastern Badakhshan province wreaked havoc and destroyed 45 more houses and hundreds of acres of crops, an official said on Monday. The floods, started a day before, swept away 45 houses and 780 acres of farmland in Shakhdan and Balocha villages of Kasham district of the province, governor’s spokesperson, Ahmad Nawid Frotan, told Pajhwok Afghan News. ...

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UNAMA Welcomes Partial Election Results

KABUL - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed Sunday's partial election results as a step towards the completion of the electoral process. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that the results are based on the tally of 10 percent of the results from 26 provinces out of 34. "While the release of partial results is a welcome step in the process, it only provides ...

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Anxious China Emerges as Diplomatic Player in Afghanistan

KABUL - China is quietly preparing for a more robust role in the future of Afghanistan, concerned that the withdrawal of NATO troops will leave a hotbed of militancy on its doorstep. The two countries are connected by a narrow mountainous corridor that is almost impassable, which meant Beijing could focus on mining and mineral deals in Afghanistan as Western forces battled Taliban insurgents. But officials ...

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Rivalry among Influential Empowers Taliban

MAIMANA - Serious differences among some powerful individuals have paved the ground for militants to expand their activities in Kohistan district of northwester Faryab province, an official said. With a population of 20,000 individuals, Kohistan is 127 kilometers south of Maimana, the provincial capital. The district chief, Imamyar Taqwa, said two polling centres had been shut during the April 5 elections i ...

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The Partial Results of the Elections

With the partial results of the election announced, Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani seem to be heading to a run-off election that would be held late next month. According to the Independent Election Commission, Abdullah has won 41.9 percent of the polls and Ashraf Ghani trails behind him with around 37 percent of the partial votes. The votes announced on Sunday count for 500,000 of the whole votes. The ECC offici ...

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Reviving Investment is Key, Says Man Tipped to Be India’s Finance Minister

New Delhi - Massaging his swollen feet after campaigning in the villages of Punjab, the man tipped to be India's next finance minister says he wants the government that takes office next month to approve five big-ticket investments quickly to signal it means business. Arun Jaitley is a senior leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), hot favorite to form a government after the election that beg ...

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Act Fast To Curb Global Warming, or Extract CO2 From Air: U.N.

New York - The study, drawing on the work of more than 1,000 experts, said a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power was affordable and would shave only about 0.06 percentage point a year off world economic growth. "We have a window of opportunity for the next decade, and maximum the next two decades" to act at moderate costs, said Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of a Be ...

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Missing Plane’s Black Box Batteries May Have Died

Perth - Following four strong underwater signals in the past week, all has gone quiet in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, meaning the batteries in the plane's all-important black boxes may finally have died. Despite having no new transmissions from the black boxes' locator beacons to go on, air and sea crews were continuing their search in the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday for debris and an ...

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UK Aerospace and Defense Firms Fret Over Scottish Independence Bid

London -  Britain's aerospace and defense industries warned on Sunday that the sector could lose its global competitive edge as a result of Scotland's bid for independence, which is due to be decided by a referendum later this year. The ADS Group, an aerospace and defense trade organization, said the uncertainty over the future of taxation, fiscal and monetary policy that the September 18 referendum has gen ...

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Ukraine Tries to Clear Pro-Russian Rebels, Reports Dead on Both Sides

Kiev - Ukrainian security forces launched an operation on Sunday to clear pro-Russian separatists from a police headquarters in the eastern city of Slaviansk, with Kiev reporting dead on both sides as it combats what it calls an act of aggression by Moscow. Ukraine faces a rash of rebellions in the east which it says are inspired and directed by the Kremlin. But action to dislodge the armed militants risks ...

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Indonesian Parties in Pact, Clear Way for Top Presidential Candidate

Jakarta - A small Indonesian political party has struck a deal with the main opposition party, clearing the way for its popular presidential candidate to run for the top job in July, a senior official of the smaller party said on Sunday. In a Wednesday parliamentary election, the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), whose presidential candidate is the popular governor of Jakarta, Joko "Jokowi" Wido ...

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