World News

Syria, Russia pound rebel-held Aleppo but advances halt

By Laila Bassam and John Davison ALEPPO, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian's military and Russian warplanes bombarded rebel-held districts of Aleppo on Saturday as Damascus's allies said victory was near, but insurgents fought back and army advances halted after rapid gains during the week. The United States said it was meeting a Russian team in Geneva to find a way to save lives, but an agreement looked elusive as the two countries, which back opposing sides, have repeatedly failed to strike a deal to allow evacuations and help aid deliveries. Russia, whose military intervention helped turn the war in President Bashar al-Assad's favor, said the Syrian government now controls 93 percent of second city Aleppo, a figure Reuters could not independently verify.

After impeachment of South Korean president, anti-Park rallies resume

By Jack Kim and Nataly Pak SEOUL (Reuters) - Protesters demanding that South Korean President Park Geun-hye step down marched on Saturday for a seventh straight weekend, a day after parliament voted overwhelmingly to impeach her and put the fate of her presidency in the hands of a nine-judge court. "We demand that the Constitutional Court make a decision of conscience and justice and do not act against the will of the people," Jung Kang-ja, one of the leaders of a coalition of civic groups backing the rally, said in a speech. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who became acting president late on Friday after the impeachment vote, called on authorities to ensure that rallies are peaceful and sought to calm anxiety over national security and to reassure financial markets "So far, financial and foreign exchange markets have been relatively stable and there are no signs of unusual movements by the North, but all public servants should bear vigilance in mind as they conduct their duties," Hwang told a meeting.

Parties make their cases to Italy president for new leader

By Antonella Cinelli and Isla Binnie ROME (Reuters) - Political parties made their cases to Italy's head of state on Saturday for candidates to lead the country out of a government crisis prompted by Matteo Renzi's resignation as prime minister. President Sergio Mattarella, a 75 year-old former constitutional court judge, must decide if someone can lead the country to elections scheduled for 2018, or whether an interim government could serve until early elections in spring. Italians rejected Renzi's constitutional reform in a popular vote on Dec. 4, leading the 41 year-old to fulfill a pledge to resign as premier if he failed to rally support for it.

Turkey seeks to arrest 55 people suspected of financing Gulen - NTV

Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for 55 people, including businessmen, suspected of giving financial support to the network of the U.S.-based cleric Ankara accuses of orchestrating a failed military coup in July, broadcaster NTV said. The businessmen suspected of being linked to the cleric's network allegedly carried large sums of cash, which they have called a "favor", back and forth between Turkey, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kazakhstan since 2014, NTV said. Ankara accuses the cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the July 15 coup bid, in which rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, fighter jets and helicopters to attack the parliament and attempt to overthrow the government.

Death toll rises as cargo train explodes in Bulgaria

"There will be more casualties for sure," outgoing Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said after arriving to the village, some 280 km northeast of capital Sofia and home to around 800 people. Seven of the train's tanks, carrying propane-butane and propylene, derailed at the station of the village, hit electricity line and exploded in flames on Saturday, National Railway Infrastructure Company's general director Mincho Lambrev said. There are many people injured ... many with burns," Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Georgi Kostov said.

Colombian Nobel Prize winner sees a "ray of hope" for Syria, Sudan

By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said an accord to end a 52-year civil war with Marxist rebels was a "ray of hope" for solving conflicts from Syria to South Sudan as he collected the Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday. In an acceptance speech that quoted an anti-war song by Bob Dylan, the 2016 Literature Laureate, Santos said Colombia itself had drawn inspiration from other peace processes such as those in South Africa and Northern Ireland. Santos collected the prize - a gold medal, diploma and a check for 8 million Swedish crowns ($870,000) at a ceremony in Oslo's city hall for his efforts to end the conflict with Marxist FARC rebels in which 220,000 people died.

Colombia's Santos accepts Nobel Prize as 'gift from heaven'

STOCKHOLM (AP) ? Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, saying it helped make possible the "impossible dream" of ending his country's half-century-long civil war.

US' Kerry urges Russia to show "grace" in Geneva Aleppo talks

Backers of the Syrian opposition appeared resigned to the fall of eastern Aleppo on Saturday, with the United States pleading Moscow to show "grace" when officials meet in Geneva to try to reach a deal for civilians and fighters to leave the city. Syrian government and allied forces have in the last two weeks driven rebels from most of their territory in what was once Syria's most populous city. The rebels have controlled the eastern section since 2012, and President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Thursday that retaking Aleppo would change the course of the civil war across the whole country.

French government seeks extension of state of emergency

PARIS (AP) ? French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says 17 attacks have been thwarted in the country so far this year and he is asking Parliament to extend the state of emergency until July 15.

Indonesian police detonate bomb in neighborhood, arrest 4

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) ? Indonesian police said they safely detonated a bomb in a neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital on Saturday after arresting suspected Islamic militants who were planning to attack the presidential palace.

Pinturault wins GS again to step up pressure on Hirscher

VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) ? A hand injury could not stop Frenchman Alexis Pinturault conquering the icy Face de Bellevarde course on Saturday as he won another World Cup giant slalom race to ramp up the pressure on rival Marcel Hirscher of Austria.

Rwanda confirms August 2017 presidential election date

Kigali (AFP) - Rwanda will stage presidential elections next August, according to a government statement issued Saturday.

5 killed in Bulgarian explosion following train derailment

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) ? Five people were killed in northeastern Bulgaria following a gas explosion on a derailed tanker train early Saturday, national radio reported. Officials said at least 23 people were injured, many with severe burns.

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