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Next Israel-Palestinian talks on Monday

WASHINGTON — The next direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians will take place in Jordan on Monday, the US State Department said. “The next meeting is now on Monday the 9th,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday, confirming they will take place in the Jordanian capital Amman,…

Leak reveals U.S. threat moved Spain to implement anti-piracy law

Much as U.S. officials leaned on France to pass an Internet disconnection law for repeated copyright offenders, so too was Spain threatened with repercussions if their lawmakers did not pass a strict new anti-piracy law, according to a leaked U.S. diplomat’s letter obtained by Spanish newspaper El Pais. Dated Dec.…

Fistfight in Somali parliament over speaker election

Fistfights erupted in Somalia’s parliament late Wednesday as lawmakers elected a new speaker in a move condemned by the troubled nation’s president as “null and void”. Several supporters of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan — sacked as speaker in a controversial move last month by 280 MPs — were injured in…

Britain urged to rule on lethal force against pirates

Britain’s government must give official guidance on when it is legal to shoot and kill maritime pirates, MPs said on Thursday ahead of a conference in London on the future of Somalia. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee hailed the government’s decision in October to allow British merchant ships in dangerous waters…

Iran shrugs at looming EU ban on its oil

Iran on Thursday played down the impact of new Western sanctions targeting its vital oil sector, after European diplomats said they have reached preliminary agreement on an EU oil ban from the Islamic republic. The National Iranian Oil Company said demand was so high for Iranian oil that it would…

Record $736k paid for single tuna fish in Japan

TOKYO — A deep-pocketed restaurateur shelled out nearly three-quarters of a million dollars for a single tuna, the most ever paid for the fish, at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market on Thursday. The 269-kilogramme (592-pound) bluefin — caught off the coast of Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture — stood at an eye-popping…

U.S. undecided on inmate release for Taliban talks

WASHINGTON — The United States said Wednesday it has taken no decision to release prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in order to boost reconciliation talks with the Taliban. But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington is “prepared to support” a proposed overseas Taliban office that backs an Afghan-led reconciliation…

U.S. vows to hold Yemen’s Saleh accountable in power transfer

WASHINGTON — The United States said Wednesday it would hold Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh accountable for transitioning power after February elections, after he canceled a planned trip to America. Saleh provoked a stir late last month when he first mooted a US trip and the United States said it…

Singapore to slash leaders’ million-dollar pay

Singapore will slash its leaders’ unpopular multi-million-dollar salaries by at least a third, new guidelines showed Wednesday, but they will remain the world’s best-paid politicians. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who promised the salary review to ease public anger that surfaced in landmark 2011 elections, will take a 36 percent…

Bangladesh teacher arrested over banned book

A head teacher in Bangladesh has been arrested after a banned book regarded by some Muslims as blasphemous was found in her college, police said Wednesday. Yunus Ali was arrested from the KC Technical and Business Management College in the coastal district of Pirojpur after police discovered a copy of Taslima Nasreen’s novel “Lajja” (“Shame”)…

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