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Cuba says Obama welcome to visit but not to meddle

By Daniel Trotta HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is welcome to visit Cuba but not to meddle in its internal affairs, a senior foreign ministry official said on Wednesday on the eve of the first anniversary of the two countries' historic rapprochement. "The day that the president of the United States decides to visit Cuba,...
Dec 17, 2015 |

Vietnam builds military muscle to face China

By Greg Torode XUAN MAI, Vietnam (Reuters) - Vietnam's military is steeling itself for conflict with China as it accelerates a decade-long modernization drive, Hanoi's biggest arms buildup since the height of the Vietnam War.     The ruling Communist Party's goal is to deter its giant northern neighbor as tensions rise over the...
Dec 17, 2015 |

Rouhani: U.N.'s closure of probe into Iran's nuclear past is political victory

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin DUBAI (Reuters) - President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday a U.N. watchdog's closure of investigations into Iran's past nuclear activities is a political victory for the country, lifting the main obstacle to implementing Tehran's deal with world powers. The 35-nation governing board of the International...
Dec 17, 2015 |

Venezuelan officials accused of taking drug pay-offs in U.S. indictment

By Nate Raymond WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two senior Venezuelan officials facing U.S. drug trafficking charges are accused in an indictment of taking payments from narcotics traffickers and alerting them to drug raids, according to a person with knowledge of the case. Nestor Reverol, the head of Venezuela's National Guard, and Edylberto Molina, a...
Dec 17, 2015 |

Russia says serious differences remain with U.S. over Syria crisis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Serious differences remain between Russia and the United States over ways to resolve the Syria crisis, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday. Zakharova added that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov planned to attend an international meeting in New York on Friday on the Syria crisis. (Reporting...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Carter, on visit to Baghdad, seeks to step up U.S. Islamic State fight

By Yeganeh Torbati BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was on Wednesday hoping to discuss with Iraqi officials Washington's offer of attack helicopters and advisers to help retake the city of Ramadi as part of an intensified fight against Islamic State. Carter said he would also be speaking to U.S. commanders during his visit...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Iran says it will not accept any restrictions on missile program

Iran's defense minister Hossein Dehghan said on Wednesday the Islamic Republic would not accept any restrictions on its missile program and would continue its tests. "We tested Emad, which is a conventional missile (on Oct. 11) to show the world that the Islamic Republic will only act based on its national interests and no country or...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Iran's October missile test violated U.N. ban: expert panel

By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran violated a U.N. Security Council resolution in October by test-firing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, a team of sanctions monitors said, leading to calls in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday for more sanctions on Tehran. The White House said it would not rule out additional steps...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Exclusive: U.S. to charge Venezuela's National Guard chief with drug trafficking

By Julia Harte and Nate Raymond WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors are preparing to unveil drug trafficking charges against the head of Venezuela's National Guard, according to people familiar with the case, as the United States investigates the suspected involvement of senior Venezuelan officials in the cocaine trade. Nestor Reverol, the...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Russia, U.S. clear way for Syria meeting after Kerry Moscow talks

By Lesley Wroughton and Jack Stubbs MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and the United States see enough common ground on Syria for world powers to meet on the troubled country's peace process in New York on Friday, but views on the future of President Bashar-al Assad still diverge. Secretary of State John Kerry went into meetings with Russian President...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Chinese jade miners in overdrive ahead of new Myanmar government

By Hnin Yadana Zaw HPAKANT, Myanmar (Reuters) - Using heavy earth-excavators and explosives, miners have been tearing into Myanmar's northern hills in recent months, in a rush to excavate more jade from the world's richest deposits of the gemstone before a new government takes office next year. Acres of forest have been felled, leaving...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Venezuela Socialists seek to curtail opposition advantage

By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's ruling Socialists inaugurated a grassroots assembly on Tuesday in the same building as the national legislature in a further effort to minimize impact of an opposition election win that has shaken the government. In the election this month, the Democratic Unity coalition won control of the...
Dec 16, 2015 |

Kerry seeks 'real progress' on Syria in Moscow talks

By Lesley Wroughton MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought in a visit to Moscow on Tuesday to make progress in narrowing differences with Russian leader Vladimir Putin over how to end the conflict in Syria. At the start of a three-hour meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kerry said he wanted to prepare the...
Dec 15, 2015 |

Putin signs law allowing Russia to overturn rulings of international rights courts

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing Russia's Constitutional Court to decide whether or not to implement rulings of international human rights courts. The law, published on Tuesday on the government website, enables the Russian court to overturn decisions of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if it deems...
Dec 15, 2015 |

U.N. watchdog decides to close nuclear weapons probe of Iran

By Francois Murphy and Shadia Nasralla VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog's 35-nation board decided on Tuesday to close its investigation into whether Iran once had a nuclear weapons program, opting to support Tehran's deal with major powers rather than dwell on its past activities. In a symbolic victory for Iran, the...
Dec 15, 2015 |

France uses cruise missiles against Islamic State for first time

France has used cruise missiles for the first time against the Islamic State during strikes in Iraq on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said. SCALP long-range missiles were launched from French fighter jets based in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan as part of a bombing raid that targeted a command center, training site and logistics depot in...
Dec 15, 2015 |

Exclusive: Another U.S. patrol in South China Sea unlikely this year - officials

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy is unlikely to carry out another patrol within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea this year as officials had initially suggested, three U.S. defense officials said on Monday. Naval commanders had hoped to carry out another "freedom of navigation" exercise...
Dec 15, 2015 |

Hezbollah buries militant Qantar, says Israel will be held accountable

Lebanon's Hezbollah group said on Monday that Israel would be held accountable for killing prominent militant Samir Qantar in an air strike in Syria, and accorded him an elaborate funeral of... Read More

Russia says black box from warplane downed by Turkey unreadable

Investigators in Moscow said on Monday they were unable to retrieve information from the damaged black box of a Russian warplane shot down by Turkey last month, data the Kremlin hoped would support... Read More

Exclusive: U.S. glossed over Oman's human rights record during Iran talks

By Jason Szep, Matt Spetalnick and Yara Bayoumy WASHINGTON/MUSCAT (Reuters) - As the United States negotiated this year’s nuclear pact with Iran, the State Department quietly agreed to spare the... Read More