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Obama downplays U.S. drone use in Iraq

President Barack Obama downplayed a recent report about the use of US drones in Iraq, indicating that the unmanned aircraft are mainly used for embassy surveillance. Obama said during an online event on Monday that a New York Times story citing Iraqi officials as expressing outrage over the use of US drones…

Eurozone unemployment hits record 10.4 percent

Eurozone unemployment hit a record 10.4 percent in November and December, provisional official figures showed on Tuesday. The Eurostat data agency had previously estimated anunemployment rate of 10.3 percent in November but it was revised to 10.4 percent in its latest report. The jobless rate has now remained at 10 percent or above…

China steps up surveillance of Tibetan monasteries

BEIJING — A top official in Tibet’s capital has asked authorities to dispatch police to monasteries and step up security on main roads after violent clashes in Tibetan-inhabited areas left at least two dead. Qi Zhala, Lhasa’s Communist Party chief, also ordered a crackdown on “separatist” activities he linked to…

Obama confirms U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama confirmed that US drone aircraft have struck Taliban and Al-Qaeda targets within Pakistan — operations that until now had not been officially acknowledged. When asked about the use of drones by his administration in a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube, Obama said…

Freezing weather kills dozens in eastern Europe

WARSAW — Freezing weather has killed dozens of people in central and eastern Europe over the past few days and temperatures are set to drop even further, authorities warned Monday. In Poland, police said 10 died over the weekend as temperatures plunged to minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 Fahrenheit),…

Starbucks to open in India

MUMBAI — Starbucks will make its eagerly awaited foray into India later this year, opening outlets under a deal announced Monday with Tata Global Beverages to tap into the country’s fast-growing taste for coffee. Tata, part of steel-to-software conglomerate Tata Group, and Seattle-based Starbucks said they had entered into a…

NATO sticks to 2014 Afghan pullout despite early French exit

BRUSSELS — NATO is committed to plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the alliance chief said Monday after France decided to end its fighting role a year earlier. “We stick to the roadmap that was outlined at the NATO summit in Lisbon in November…

Palestinian prisoner in 44-day hunger strike ‘deteriorating’

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian militant held by Israel marked 44 days on hunger strike on Monday, with a rights group saying his life was in danger but prison authorities describing his condition as satisfactory. Tel Aviv-based Physicians for Human Rights said in a statement that 34-year-old Khader Adnan, arrested by…

UN atomic agency ‘can extend visit to Iran’

An IAEA delegation visiting Iran can choose to extend its stay beyond the three days originally planned if it wishes, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday, according to the official IRNA news agency. “We are very optimistic on the results of the IAEA trip. They are here for a three-day trip, and if they…

Putin promises Russia ‘new economy’ after protests

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised Monday to build a “new economy” in Russia as he admitted its prosperity was still held back by a litany of ills despite his 12-year domination of the country. In a bid to show he remains Russia’s best hope for economic stability after a wave of protests, Putin…

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