World News

Foreign powers back Syria truce deal, war erupts among rebels

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi, John Irish and Olzhas Auyezov ASTANA (Reuters) - Russia and regional powers Turkey and Iran backed a shaky truce between Syria's warring parties on Tuesday and agreed to monitor its compliance, but on the ground rebels faced continued fighting on two fronts which could undermine the deal. After two days of deliberations in Astana, Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said the powers had a agreed in a final communique to establish a system "to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire, prevent any provocations and determine all modalities of the ceasefire." While welcoming the text, the Syrian government's chief negotiator Bashar Ja'afari said an offensive against rebels west of Damascus would carry on.

U.N. 'racing' to prepare aid for civilians ahead of battle for west Mosul

By Maher Chmaytelli BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Tuesday it is "racing against the clock" to prepare emergency aid for hundreds of thousands of endangered civilians in Mosul with an Iraqi army offensive looming to oust Islamic State from the western half of the city. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed on Tuesday that government forces had taken complete control of eastern Mosul, 100 days after the start of the U.S.-backed campaign to retake Iraq's second largest city from Islamic State (IS) insurgents who seized it in 2014.

China says will protect South China Sea sovereignty

By Ben Blanchard and David Brunnstrom BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday it had "irrefutable" sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea after the White House vowed to defend "international territories" in the strategic waterway. White House spokesman Sean Spicer in his comments on Monday signaled a sharp departure from years of cautious U.S. handling of China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims in Asia. "The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there," Spicer said when asked if Trump agreed with comments by his secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson.

Parliament must vote before UK can trigger Brexit, top court rules

By Michael Holden and Estelle Shirbon LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May must give parliament a vote before she can formally start Britain's exit from the European Union, the UK Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, giving lawmakers who oppose her Brexit plans a shot at amending them. A "straightforward" bill will now be rushed to parliament within days, the government said after the country's highest judicial body decided May could not use executive powers known as "royal prerogative" to invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty and begin two years of divorce talks.

Under cover of night, Syrian wounded seek help from enemy Israel

By Rami Amichay and Baz Ratner GOLAN HEIGHTS (Reuters) - It happens nearly every night. After dark, the Syrian wounded come to known locations on the Israel-Syria front in the Golan Heights, driven by desperation to seek help from an enemy army. Israeli soldiers on lookout or patrol spot them waiting by the fence and whisk them away to a rear position where army medics soon arrive, according to army officials operating in the area that was seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

China says hopes Mongolia learned lesson after Dalai Lama visit

China said on Tuesday it hopes Mongolia has learned a lesson and will keep a promise not to invite the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama again after his visit in November led to a chill in relations. The Dalai Lama is upheld as a spiritual leader in predominantly Buddhist Mongolia, but China regards him as a dangerous separatist and warned Mongolia before the visit that it could damage ties. "The Dalai Lama's furtive visit to Mongolia brought a negative impact to China-Mongolia relations," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Mongolia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsend Munkh-Orgil by telephone.

Key points in the Syria statement issued in Astana

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) ? Russia, Turkey and Iran, who sponsored the first face-to-face meeting between Syria's armed opposition and Syrian government in Kazakhstan this week, issued a joint statement at the conclusion of the talks Tuesday announcing their intention to establish a trilateral mechanism to ensure full compliance with a cease-fire for Syria in place since Dec. 30.

Bulgaria former parliamentary speaker to be appointed as interim PM: sources

Bulgaria's president will appoint a former parliamentary speaker as the country's caretaker prime minister until a new government can be formed after an early election in the spring, two sources familiar with the process said on Tuesday. Ognyan Gerdzhikov, 70, will most likely be appointed by the end of the week, the sources said. Kiril Ananiev, 61, currently a deputy finance minister, will take over as finance minister, the sources said.

Merkel won't face vote challenge from Gabriel

The head of Germany's Social Democrats on Tuesday abandoned an expected bid to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in September's general election, nominating former European Parliament speaker Martin Schulz instead. Sigmar Gabriel, 57, who currently serves as vice chancellor and economy minister in Merkel's government, revealed the decision in media interviews, saying his chances of victory would be dismal. Speaking ahead of a party meeting in Berlin to news weekly Stern, Gabriel proposed Schulz, speaker in the Brussels parliament until last week, as a candidate.

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka questioned by police

LONDON (AP) ? Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has been questioned by police after being accused of racially abusing an employee at Heathrow Airport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

Baby giraffe born in Belgium

By Waverly Colville BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The newest inhabitant of Belgium's Planckendael Zoo has arrived - a baby giraffe, born on Jan. 19. A video released by the zoo shows mother Megara standing as she gives birth and her baby falling about two meters. It was the first birth of 2017 for Planckendael Zoo, which is 30 km (20 miles) outside Brussels.

Trump signs orders advancing Keystone, Dakota pipelines

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive actions to accelerate the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects and to decree that American steel should be used for pipelines built in the United States. Trump also signed an action to expedite environmental review and approval of high-priority infrastructure projects that he hopes to get moving as part of his drive to rebuild U.S. airports, roads and bridges. Trump told reporters that "we are going to renegotiate some of the terms" of the Keystone XL project.

Hard work ahead for new Gambian president

They breathed a sigh of relief when strongman Yahya Jammeh finally left The Gambia. "At the end of the month, after I've bought a sack of rice, we barely have anything left to live off," said Abdoulie Sabaly, a 29-year-old teacher and father of two. Barrow won a December election, but for weeks Jammeh refused to recognise the result, setting off a crisis that saw the new president take his oath of office in neighbouring Senegal last week.

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