World

Trump praises ‘very smart’ Putin for holding off on reprisals against US

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for not quickly hitting back at Washington for the punitive measures imposed over alleged interference in the November election. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted. Russia’s embassy in Washington quickly

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Putin refuses to expel US diplomats, looks to Trump

MOSCOW (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin on Friday ruled out any tit-for-tat expulsion of Americans after Washington turfed out dozens of Russian diplomats over alleged interference in the US presidential election. The Kremlin strongman s decision came despite the foreign ministry asking him to send home 35 US diplomats in retaliation for the expulsion of the

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Iraq forces fight muddy street battle against IS in Mosul

MOSUL (AFP) – Iraqi forces are fighting a muddy street battle against jihadists in southeastern Mosul, facing suicide bombers on the ground and a drone that can drop explosive charges from above. Baghdad s forces have overwhelming firepower and numbers in Mosul, but the Islamic State group has a vast city in which to launch ambushes,

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Syria truce begins under deal backed by Russia, Turkey

DAMASCUS (AFP) – A nationwide ceasefire in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey took effect at midnight (2200 GMT), in a potentially major breakthrough in the conflict of more than five years. The deal, which does not include designated “terrorists” like the Islamic State group, was announced hours earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin and

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Russia moves to expel 35 US diplomats: Lavrov

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s foreign ministry has requested President Vladimir Putin turf out 35 American diplomats from the country in a tit-for-tat response to a similar move by Washington over hacking allegations, Moscow’s top diplomat said Friday. “Russia’s foreign ministry… has requested that the Russian president approve declaring as personae non gratae 31 employees of

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Saudi invites rival Iran for talks on hajj return

Riyadh’s pilgrims minister Mohammed Bentin had opened discussions with more than 80 countries. RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia has invited regional rival Iran to discuss a return of its nationals to next year’s hajj after Iranians were excluded from the pilgrimage following a major diplomatic row, reports said Friday. The Al-Hayat daily reported that Riyadh’s

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Kerry warns Israel settlements threaten democracy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – In a stern parting shot, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Israel on Wednesday that building settlements on Palestinian land threatens the country’s very future as a democracy. Less than four weeks before President Barack Obama leaves office, Kerry accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of allowing Israel to slide towards a

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Fate of nationwide ceasefire for Syria unclear

ISTANBUL (AFP) – The fate of a reported nationwide truce for Syria was unclear Thursday, following talks between Moscow and Ankara, despite Turkish state media saying a deal had been reached. The state-run Anadolu news agency said late Wednesday the agreed plan aims to expand a ceasefire in the city of Aleppo to the whole

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Philippine leader says once threw man from helicopter, would do it again

PHILIPPINE (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened corrupt government officials with the prospect of being thrown out of a helicopter mid-air, warning he has done it himself before and had no qualms about doing it again. The fiery-tempered former prosecutor said he once hurled a Chinese man suspected of rape and murder out

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Aleppo: the massive task of rebuilding a shattered city

ALEPPO, Syria (AFP) – Midnight means lights out in Syria’s Aleppo: as the clock strikes 12, overworked power generators shut off across the city, plunging war-ravaged neighbourhoods and heritage sites into darkness. It will take many months and millions of dollars to breathe life back into Aleppo’s devastated water, electricity, and transportation networks. Four years

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