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  • Syria regime, rebels set for first face-to-face at Astana 

    The conflict in Syria has lasted nearly six years, killing more than 300,000 and displacing over half of the country's populationThe Syrian regime and rebel fighters will on Monday sit down at the negotiating table for the first time in nearly six years of war, the latest diplomatic push to end hostilities. Hosted in the Kazakh capital Astana, the talks will see an opposition delegation composed exclusively of rebel groups negotiating with the regime of Bashar al-Assad in an initiative sponsored by rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran. Although Assad said the talks would prioritise reaching a ceasefire, Damascus has insisted it will seek a "comprehensive" political solution to the conflict that has killed more than 300,000 and displaced over half of the country's population.


  • Germany must prepare for 'rough ride' under Trump: Vice Chancellor 

    German Economy Minister Gabriel addresses a news conference in Berlin GermanyBy Joseph Nasr BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will need a new economic strategy geared toward Asia should the new U.S. administration start a trade war with China, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday, warning against protectionism hours after President Donald Trump was sworn in. "I think we have to prepare for a rough ride," Gabriel said in an interview with the public broadcaster ZDF, in the first official German reaction to Trump's inauguration.


  • Briton falls to death at 2022 Qatar World Cup stadium site 

    FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2014 file photo, construction work is under way at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Organizers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar say a British man has died working at a stadium which will be a venue for the event. The organizers say the unnamed 40-year-old man died on Thursday working at Khalifa International Stadium, which is due to stage games up to the quarterfinal stage in 2022. (AP Photo/Rob Harris, File)A British man fell to his death this week at a World Cup stadium building site in Qatar, where construction conditions have come under sharp scrutiny since the country was awarded the 2022 soccer tournament.


  • Syria's ancient Palmyra: five things to know 

    Syria's ancient city of Palmyra was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1980Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, where archaeological treasures are under renewed attack by Islamic State group jihadists, was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1980. IS jihadists first seized Palmyra in May 2015 and began to systematically destroy the central city's monuments. Although the precise date of its founding is unknown, Palmyra's name is referred to on a tablet dating from the 19th century BC as a stopping point for caravans between the Mediterranean and the east.


  • With little room to maneuver, Syria's rebels head for talks 

    FILE - This undated handout file photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry claims to show Russian Military engineers driving in their APCs to operate in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian rebels are sending representatives next week to the capital of Kazakhstan for talks with government representatives. With the loss of Aleppo, the election of Donald Trump and the pivot of Turkey toward Russia, the opposition has very little room to maneuver. Without much foreign support and with the wider rebellion in crisis, the opposition will be negotiating for scraps.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP, File)BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels are sending more than a dozen representatives next week to the capital of Kazakhstan for talks with government representatives, the first such negotiations between the two sides in a year.


  • Russia says hopes Trump sends Mideast expert to Astana talks on Syria MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia hopes that the administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will send a Middle East expert to talks on the Syria conflict in the Kazakh capital Astana later this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. (Reporting by Alexander Winning; editing by Maria Kiselyova)
  • Qaeda operations leader killed in US strike in Syria: Pentagon 

    The air strike occurred Thursday at a training camp in Idlib province that had been operational since 2013, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis saidWashington (AFP) - A US air strike has killed an Al-Qaeda leader in northern Syria, the Pentagon said Thursday.


  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards reaps economic rewards in Syria 

    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani meets with Syrian Prime Minister Emad Khamis in TehranBy Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Ellen Francis DUBAI/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran's government and entities close to the elite Revolutionary Guards have signed major economic contracts with Syria, reaping what appear to be lucrative rewards for helping President Bashar al-Assad regain control of parts of his country from rebels. An opposition group condemned the telecommunications and mining deals signed with Iran, Damascus's main regional ally, as "looting" of the Syrian people and the country's wealth by the "Iranian extremist militias". Syria's economy is shrinking fast as industrial and agricultural output falls after six years of civil war, and almost two-thirds of the population lives in extreme poverty.


  • U.S. strikes in Libya kill more than 80 Islamic State fighters 

    Fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government walks as smokes rises following an air strike on Islamic State positions in Ghiza Bahriya district in SirteBy Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 80 Islamic State militants, some of whom were believed to be plotting attacks in Europe, died in U.S. air strikes on camps outside the group's former North African stronghold of Sirte in Libya, the United States said on Thursday. "These strikes were directed against some of ISIL's external plotters," U.S Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a Pentagon briefing, using an acronym for Islamic State, the Syria- and Iraq-based militant group.


  • Lebanon gets a new government, now it needs a new economy 

    Lebanon's President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri attend the first meeting of the new cabinet at the presidential palace in BaabdaBy Lisa Barrington BEIRUT (Reuters) - After years of political deadlock, Lebanon finally has a new government. Battered by war in neighboring Syria, neglected by wrangling politicians and caught in rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the pillars of the economy - remittances from overseas workers, tourism and real estate - are not what they were. Long-term, Lebanon is searching for new sources of growth, which fell from 8-9 percent to below 2 percent when Syria's civil war began in 2011.


  • Key players in Iran nuke deal aim message at Trump: It works UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations, the European Union and key players in the Iran nuclear agreement delivered a united message Wednesday aimed at U.S. President-elect Donald Trump: The deal is working and must be maintained to keep Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
  • Iran looks to Syria talks to boost regional clout 

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) meets with Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis in Tehran on January 18, 2017Iran is looking to Syria peace talks next week as a chance to build on its regional clout, experts say, as Tehran, Moscow and Ankara all stake out claims for influence. The Syrian army's victory in recapturing the rebel stronghold of east Aleppo last month has thrust Tehran to the centre of the diplomatic game playing out over the country's future. President Hassan Rouhani said this week that the co-sponsors of the peace talks opening in Astana on Monday -- Iran, Russia and Turkey -- were the only powers with the influence to turn the fragile ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebels into a lasting settlement.


  • Outgoing U.S. envoy says U.N. needs to 'push' Iran on arms embargo 

    United States Ambassador to the United Nations Power addresses media following a United Nations Security Council vote, aimed at ensuring that U.N. officials can monitor evacuations from besieged parts of Aleppo, at the United Nations in New York CityBy Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council needs to push Iran to abide by an arms embargo, outgoing U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said on Wednesday amid U.N. concerns that Tehran has supplied weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah. Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program.


  • US commander warns of more IS attacks in Asia-Pacific 

    Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, called for a concerted effort by the global community to deal with the Islamic State threat in the regionA top US military commander warned Wednesday that the Asia-Pacific region is at risk of attacks by Islamic State group fighters returning to their home countries. As the group loses territory in the Middle East, radicalised fighters from Bangladesh, Indonesia and elsewhere are likely to target their native countries, Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris said. In the past year alone, ISIL has made its murderous intentions clear in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United States," he said at an geo-political conference in New Delhi.


  • Iraq announces 'liberation' of east Mosul 

    Iraqi elite forces have in recent days entered the last neighbourhoods on the eastern side of Mosul, on the left bank of the Tigris River that runs through the cityIraqi forces have retaken control of east Mosul from the Islamic State group, commanders said on Wednesday, three months after a huge offensive against the jihadist bastion was launched. Elite forces have in recent days entered the last neighbourhoods on the eastern side of Mosul, on the left bank of the Tigris River that runs through the city. Speaking at a news conference in Bartalla, a town east of Mosul, Staff General Talib al-Sheghati, who heads the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), announced "the liberation... of the left bank".


  • Popular Sufi leader in Morocco dies aged 95 

    Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leadersThe head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, with tens of thousands of followers at home and abroad, died Wednesday aged 95, an official and local media said. Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi had been the spiritual leader of the Qadiriya Boutchichiya order since 1972. Seen as a "living master" by his followers and famed for his wisdom and kindness, he was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leaders.


  • US congresswoman Gabbard makes secret Syria trip 

    US Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who often clashes with her own party on issues related to Syria, has long opposed a US policy of regime change thereA US congresswoman made a rare secret visit to Syria as part of her effort toward ending the years-long conflict in the Middle Eastern nation, her office said Wednesday. House Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, made a fact-finding mission to the capital Damascus despite continued fighting in the war-torn country in contravention of a frail ceasefire. "As an individual committed to doing all she can to promote and work for peace, she felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders," said Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer.


  • Security issues sow divisions as Cyprus talks resume 

    An woman pushes a baby stroller in front of an abandoned building, in the UN-controlled buffer zone in NicosiaBy Michele Kambas ATHENS (Reuters) - The vexed issue of security arrangements in a post-settlement Cyprus took center stage on Wednesday in talks on the island's future, as officials played down chances of swift progress in a push towards reunification by its Greek and Turkish authorities. Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said last week it should retain troops on the divided island to protect the minority Turkish Cypriot community, a comment that raised hackles in Athens. "We will try to ... maybe offer some alternatives for the political level to consider," the source - who is close to the Turkish Cypriot delegation - told Reuters on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.


  • Luxury goods maker Burberry sales up over Christmas period LONDON (AP) — Luxury goods maker Burberry says retail sales rose in the three months including the critical Christmas season, as improved results in Asia helped reverse recent declines.
  • Germany set for federal election on Sept 24, Merkel seeks fourth term 

    German Chancellor Merkel delivers a speech during the yearly DBB union meeting in CologneGermany looks set to hold its federal election on Sunday Sept. 24, with Chancellor Angela Merkel seeking a fourth term in office and the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party expected to enter the national parliament for the first time. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Twitter that the cabinet had suggested that date to the president, who has the final decision but tends to agree with the government's proposal. Concerns about integration and security have pushed her popularity down and fueled the rise of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is expected to win enough votes to clear the 5 percent threshold to enter the federal parliament.


  • Arab Israeli and policeman killed in suspected car ramming attack in southern Israel 

    A car which Israeli police said was used to ram into a group of policemen is towed by Israeli police in Umm Al-HiranPolice in Israel said an Arab Israeli on Wednesday rammed his car into a group of policemen in the southern Negev region, killing one before being shot dead, though a rights activist who was present disputed it was an attack. Police said the violence sparked a riot in the village of Umm al-Hiran, where an operation was underway to demolish Bedouin dwellings deemed by a court as having been built illegally on state-owned land. Police spokeswoman Merav Lapidot said the suspect was a local teacher who "surged towards the forces intending to kill" and that riots erupted after he was shot.


  • Biden hits Putin's Russia in final address as VP 

    Outgoing US vice president Joe Biden addresses the assembly on the second day of the World Economic Forum, on January 18, 2017 in DavosRussia is the main threat to the "liberal" world order, US Vice President Joe Biden told the Davos elite on Wednesday, in his final speech before leaving office. Biden used the big stage of the World Economic Forum in the posh Swiss resort to warn of threats posed by the Kremlin two days before Donald Trump's administration takes over in Washington. "The greatest threat ... springs from the external actors who equate their success on fracturing the liberal international order," Biden said.


  • Egypt keen to save Saudi ties after islands ruling 

    The deal to hand over the Red Sea islands of Tiran (foreground) and Sanafir (background) to Saudi Arabia provoked accusations that Cairo had "sold" the strategic islandsCairo will do all it can to preserve crucial ties with Saudi Arabia, experts say, after an Egyptian court ruled against government plans to transfer control of two islands to Riyadh. Monday's ruling -- which saw Egypt's top administrative court block the transfer of the Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia -- is likely to fuel concerns in Riyadh. "The government will not spare any effort to implement the (islands) agreement," says Mostafa Kamel el-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University.


  • UN takes aim at calls for Israeli annexation of West Bank 

    David Friedman -- US President-elect Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to Israel -- backs moving the US embassy to JerusalemCalls for Israel to annex parts or all of the Palestinian West Bank risk destroying prospects for peace, the UN envoy for the Middle East warned Tuesday. Some Israeli ministers have called for an annexation of land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state and US President-elect Donald Trump's pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has voiced support for such a move. UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov delivered the warning to the Security Council, which met for the first time since the adoption of a contentious resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.


  • Putin: Obama administration trying to undermine Trump 

    Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a joint news conference with Moldovan President Igor Dodon in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused the outgoing U.S. administration of trying to undermine President-elect Donald Trump by spreading fake allegations. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool Photo via AP)MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin took a parting shot at the Obama administration Tuesday, accusing it of trying to undermine Donald Trump's legitimacy with fake allegations and "binding the president-elect hand and foot to prevent him from fulfilling his election promises."


  • Turkey: Istanbul nightclub attacker confessed after capture 

    Reina club attacker after being caught by Turkish police in Istanbul, late Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. Turkish media reports say police have caught the gunman who killed 39 people at an attack on a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year's celebrations, detained during a police operation. (Depo Photos via AP)ISTANBUL (AP) — The accused perpetrator of a New Year's nightclub attack in Istanbul has confessed and his fingerprints are a match, Turkish authorities said Tuesday. They identified him as an Uzbek national who trained in Afghanistan and staged the attack for the Islamic State group.


  • Venezuela's President: Trump won't be worse than Obama 

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores wave to supporters upon arrival to the Supreme Court where Maduro will give his annual state of the nation report in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. For more than half a century, Congress had been the body responsible for receiving the president's annual report, as established by the constitution, but the legislature lost that power by decision of the court, which authorized last week for Maduro to present his speech to magistrates. At left is Vice President Tareck El Aissami. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump has received a backhanded compliment from the United States' arch nemesis in Latin America.


  • India's Modi urges Chinese restraint as Trump handover nears 

    India's PM Modi delivers a speech after he inaugurated the country's first international exchange - India INX in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in GandhinagarBy Douglas Busvine NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Growing military ambitions in the Asia-Pacific are creating security risks, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday in a coded message to China to exercise strategic restraint. Although couched in diplomatic language and not mentioning China by name, Modi's remarks in a keynote foreign policy speech aligned New Delhi with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's intent to curb Beijing's regional clout. "Rising ambition and rivalries are generally visible stress points," Modi told an audience of politicians and top military brass from 65 nations at a security conference in New Delhi.


  • Russia hopes for pragmatic dialogue with US under Trump 

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens to a question during his annual roundup news conference summing up his ministry's work in 2016, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Lavrov said Russia hopes new U.S. administration will be represented at the Syria talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow hopes for better relations with the United States based on respect for mutual interests once Donald Trump takes office, in contrast with the "messianic" approach of the outgoing administration that has ravaged ties, Russia's foreign minister said Tuesday.


  • Tobacco giant BAT buys out US firm Reynolds in mega-deal 

    British American Tobacco has agreed to pay almost $50 billion for control of US firm Reynolds American, whose brands include Camel and NewportBritish American Tobacco agreed Tuesday to pay almost $50 billion for control of US peer Reynolds American in a move which targets the lucrative United States market and the fast-growing e-cigarette sector. BAT will purchase the 57.8-percent of Reynolds American that it does not already own, the group said, unveiling an improved cash-and-shares offer after Reynolds had rejected its previous $47-billion bid. The deal brings together a raft of global brands, including BAT products Lucky Strike, Rothmans and Kent, and Reynolds' brands such as Newport, Camel and Pall Mall.


  • Russia turns to Libya with show of support for eastern commander 

    FILE PHOTO: Libyan General Haftar leaves after meeting in MoscowBy Aidan Lewis TUNIS (Reuters) - A visit to a Russian aircraft carrier by Libya's Khalifa Haftar has given the eastern–based commander a symbolic boost while also signaling Moscow's interest in a greater role in the region following its intervention in Syria. Haftar is a figurehead for east Libyan factions who harbors national ambitions, and his renewed engagement with Russia comes at a time when the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli that he has shunned is once more in crisis. Russian support could embolden Haftar in making a play for power in Tripoli, a move likely to fuel conflict and represent a major setback for genuine unity government in Libya.


  • Obama warns Trump not to jettison Iran nuclear deal 

    The latest poll by CNN/ORC, found that 60 percent of Americans approve of Barack Obama's performance in office, his best score since June 2009US President Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of the nuclear deal with Iran by emphasizing its "significant and concrete results" and warning against undoing a pact supported by the world's major powers.


  • Reports: Istanbul nightclub attacker who killed 39 captured ISTANBUL (AP) — A gunman suspected of killing 39 people during a New Year's attack on an Istanbul nightclub has been caught in a police operation, Turkish media reports said early Tuesday.
  • EU opposes shift of US Embassy site in Israel 

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, left, talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during an EU foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council in Brussels on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union foreign ministers on Monday opposed any plan by President-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and warned that it could ratchet up tensions with the Arab world.


  • Obama issues warning on 1st anniversary of Iran nuclear deal 

    In this Nov. 10, 2016 photo, President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is marking the first anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal by warning the Trump administration that the accord can't easily be undone and is preferable to war.


  • Saudi carrier flynas signs deal for 80 Airbus planes 

    Low-cost Saudi carrier flynas has signed an $8.6 billion deal with Airbus to purchase 80 A320neo single-aisle jetsLow-cost Saudi carrier flynas on Monday signed an $8.6-billion deal with European plane manufacturer Airbus to purchase 80 A320neo single-aisle jets. Flynas chairman Ayed al-Jeaid said at a ceremony in Riyadh that the deal includes an option for 40 more of the short to medium-haul planes, to cater for what airline executives described as a growing domestic market. Bander al-Mohanna, the chief executive of NAS Holding, of which flynas is a division, signed the agreement with Fouad Attar, Middle East director for France-based Airbus.


  • Trump's offer to Russia: an end to sanctions for nuclear arms cut - London Times 

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York CityBy Guy Faulconbridge and William James LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will propose offering to end sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with Moscow, he told The Times of London. Criticizing previous U.S. foreign policy in an interview published on Monday, he described the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as possibly the gravest error in the history of the United States and akin to "throwing rocks into a beehive".


  • Israel, Palestinians warned against solo steps harmful to peace 

    French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault welcomes US Secretary of State John Kerry as he arrives for the Mideast peace conference in ParisBy John Irish, Lesley Wroughton and Marine Pennetier PARIS (Reuters) - Some 70 countries reaffirmed on Sunday that only a two-state solution could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and warned against any unilateral steps by either side that could prejudge negotiations. The final communique of a one-day international Middle East peace conference in Paris shied away from explicitly criticizing plans by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem, although diplomats said the wording sent a "subliminal" message. Trump has pledged to pursue more pro-Israeli policies and to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel's capital despite international objections.


  • Settlements must not undermine Mideast peace: Germany's Steinmeier Israeli settlement building must not undermine efforts to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday, adding that Israel's security was also important. "It has to be the will of the parties to create results which mean that Israel and Palestine can coexist peacefully in the Middle East," Steinmeier told reporters ahead of a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels. "Everybody knows that the security situation in Israel is part of that, in the same way as the fact that the basis of such negotiations cannot be undermined by the construction of settlements.
  • 'Yes we can': Obama's complex legacy 

    With his temples a bit grayer, Barack Obama leaves the Oval Office aged 55 with high popularity ratingsAfter winning the White House with a call to embrace "the audacity of hope," Barack Obama knows his place in the history books will be measured against the outsized hopes his 2008 election sparked in the United States and abroad. Will the son of an absent Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, who split his childhood years between the Aloha State and Indonesia, be lauded for bringing down unemployment, the raid that killed Obama bin Laden, or reforming the health care system? Whatever the historians write, Obama -- America's first black president -- can certainly claim some bona fide successes.


 

 

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