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Afghan leader makes rare reference to Taliban

Afghan leader makes rare reference to Taliban by name at Beijing conference
Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press

BEIJING, China - Afghanistan's new president invited the Taliban to join in a peace process backed by the international community on Friday, in an unusual direct reference to the insurgents who have stepped up attacks aimed at bringing down his month-old government.

N. Korea says it has invited EU rights official

North Korea says it's asked EU's top human rights official to visit, but warns on other offers
Cara Anna, The Associated Press

North Korea on Thursday said it has invited European Union's top human rights official to visit the country, but it threatened to drop recent offers of visits by United Nations rights officials unless a U.N. resolution on the country removes any reference to the International Criminal Court before Saturday.

North Korean diplomat Kim Un Chol told The Associated Press that the visit by the EU official, Stavros Lambrinidis, is expected next March.

Sweden recognizes Palestinian state; Israel upset

Sweden's new government recognizes Palestinian state; Israel recalls ambassador
Karl Ritter, The Associated Press

STOCKHOLM - Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.

US official: Welcome home medics fighting Ebola

US ambassador to UN says Ebola must be fought at source, medics welcomed home
Clarence Roy-MacAulay, The Associated Press

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - Health care workers who go to West Africa to fight Ebola must be welcomed home and nothing should be done to impede fighting the disease "at its source," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

International community ramps up Africa Ebola aid

International community ramps ups efforts to contain Ebola crisis in West Africa
Rodney Muhumuza And Sarah Dilorenzo, The Associated Press

ACCRA, Ghana - German Capt. Mattias Reichenbach has loaded protective gear, soap and other cargo onto his plane and is ready to take off from the United Nations' main staging area in Ghana during a crisis that has claimed thousands of lives in three African countries.

Instead of serving as peacekeepers against insurgents in some bush war, though, the U.N. is battling a different type of deadly foe: Ebola.

Top Chinese diplomat visits Vietnam to repair ties

Top Chinese diplomat visits Vietnam to repair ties strained by oil rig, US arms sales
The Associated Press

HANOI, Vietnam - China's top diplomat was greeted warmly as he arrived in Vietnam on Monday to repair ties ruptured by disputes over the South China Sea.

Relations between the two communist neighbours plunged to the lowest point in years after China in May deployed a giant oil rig near the Paracels, also claimed by Vietnam.

Pro-Western parties seen leading Ukraine vote

Pro-Western parties seen leading Ukraine parliamentary vote in major political earthquake
Peter Leonard And Yuras Karmanau, The Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukrainians overwhelmingly backed several pro-Western parties in a landmark parliamentary election Sunday, another nudge in the former Soviet republic's drift away from Russia.

Two exit polls released as voting closed indicated that President Petro Poroshenko's party will secure a narrow win in the parliamentary election, falling substantially short of an outright majority. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's Popular Front followed close behind.

Tunisians in historic vote spurred by Arab Spring

Tunisians express hope as they vote for new parliament in Arab Spring democratic transition
Paul Schemm And Bouazza Ben Bouazza, The Associated Press

TUNIS, Tunisia - Tunisians expressed tentative hope for the future as they lined up Sunday to choose their first five-year parliament since they overthrew their dictator in the 2011 revolution that kicked off the Arab Spring.

Syria's Assad makes rare appearance at rally

Syria's president makes rare public appearance at rally of his supporters
Albert Aji,Elizabeth A. Kennedy, The Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria - Syrian President Bashar Assad joined thousands of his supporters Wednesday in an extremely rare public appearance, telling a pro-regime rally in the capital that the "conspiracy" against his country will fail.

Dressed more casually than usual in a jacket but no tie, the president told the cheering crowd that he wanted to draw strength from them. Security guards surrounded him as supporters waved his portrait and raised Syrian flags.

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