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Russia gears up for sharp slump as bailed-out bank gets more funds

MOSCOW - Slumping oil prices have put Russia's economy on course for a sharp recession next year, its finance minister said on Friday, as authorities scaled up the bailout of the first bank to succumb to the country's currency crisis.

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Japan says close to deal with South Korea and U.S. on North Korea defense

TOKYO - Japan, the United States and South Korea are close to reaching a deal on sharing and safeguarding sensitive information on North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, Japan's Defence Ministry said on Friday.

Kiev and rebels to exchange hundreds of prisoners soon: security service

KIEV - Kiev and pro-Russian separatists will exchange hundreds of prisoners soon, an aide to the head of Ukraine's SBU state security service said on Friday, as the military reported a slight increase in rebel attacks.

Japan inflation slows and output slips, keep BOJ under pressure

TOKYO - Japanese annual core consumer inflation slowed for a fourth straight month in November due largely to sliding oil prices, highlighting the challenges the central bank faces in achieving its 2 percent inflation target.

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Myanmar's Suu Kyi says wants West to spur reform not reimpose sanctions

LONDON - Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday called on the West to encourage her country's government to enter meaningful reform talks but told it not to reintroduce punitive sanctions even though democratic reforms were foundering.

World, Myanmar 6:35am EST

Asia remembers devastating 2004 tsunami with tears and prayers

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Survivors of Asia's 2004 tsunami and relatives of its 226,000 victims cried and prayed as they gathered along Indian Ocean shorelines on Friday for memorials to mark the 10th anniversary of a disaster that still leaves an indelible mark on the region. | Video

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On Christmas visit with troops, Obama lauds end of Afghanistan mission

KANOEHE BAY, Hawaii - One week before the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, thanked American troops on Thursday during a Christmas Day visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kanoehe Bay.

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Chinese leadership offers support for Hong Kong leader

BEIJING - China's central government fully approves of the leadership of Hong Kong's chief executive Leung Chun-ying and the work of the territory's government which has shown itself "unafraid of challenges", Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.