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Greek PM Papandreou wins confidence vote

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a vote of confidence in parliament on Saturday, avoiding snap elections that would have torpedoed Greece’s debt bailout deal and inflamed the euro zone’s economic crisis. But the nation remained mired in political, economic and social turmoil. Papandreou signaled he would…

Pakistan ties with U.S., India improving: Minister

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s most troubled foreign relationships have improved in recent months, its top diplomat said on Saturday, pointing to upcoming trade talks with New Delhi and broad agreement on regional security goals with Washington as evidence. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, in an exclusive interview with Reuters, said…

Muslims gather on Arafat for peak hajj day

More than two million Muslims began massing Saturday on Saudi Arabia’s Mount Arafat and its surrounding plain, marking the peak day of the largest annual pilgrimage. Swarms of pilgrims who had spent the night in Mina, some 10 kilometres (six miles) northwest of Arafat surged through the roads leading to…

Syria blasts U.S. for ‘blatant interference’

Damascus on Saturday strongly condemned Washington after the US State Department advised Syrians against surrendering following an amnesty for those who give up weapons. “The American administration disclosed again its blatant interference in Syria’s internal affairs, and its policy which supports killing, in addition to its funding of the terrorist…

Peru’s Congress approves 10-year GMO ban

LIMA — Peru’s Congress announced Friday it overwhelmingly approved a 10-year moratorium on imports of genetically modified organisms in order to safeguard the country’s biodiversity. The measure bars GMOs — including seeds, livestock, and fish — from being imported for cultivation or to be raised locally. Exceptions include the use…

‘Don’t kill civilians,’ Taliban leader tells fighters

Elusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar called on his fighters to avoid killing civilians in a statement posted Friday on the Afghanistan hardline Islamists’ website, SITE Intelligence reported. The US monitoring group said Omar “stressed that his fighters must maintain good relations with civilians and to avoid any action that may…

Israel navy intercepts flotilla ships off Gaza coast

The Israeli navy on Friday boarded two international ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists who were trying to break the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a military statement said. The Irish-flagged Saoirse (“Freedom”) and the Canadian ship Tahrir (Arabic for “Liberation”) were intercepted by naval commandos in international waters off the…

2.5 million Muslims begin annual hajj pilgrimage

More than 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims began on Friday the rites of the annual hajj pilgrimage, leaving the holy city of Mecca for Mount Arafat, where the prophet Mohammed is believed to have delivered his final hajj sermon. Dressed in white, they flooded the streets as they headed towards Mina,…

After famine and drought, Somali refugees face floods

Thousands of Somalis who fled famine, drought and conflict now face the misery of heavy rains and flooding in the region, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. “Thousands of displaced Somalis have been affected by heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia,” High Commissioner for…

Iran celebrates 1979 U.S. embassy seizure

Thousands of Iranians chanting “Death to America” marked the anniversary on Friday of the 1979 seizure of the US embassy amid references to recent US allegations of an Iranian assassination plot. The annual celebration in front of what Iranians call “the den of spies” was also used this year as…

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