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Gloom at Syria talks as Russia backs government advance

MUNICH Major powers began a new round of Syria talks on Thursday focusing on calls for a ceasefire and access for aid, but the mood was dour with Moscow showing no sign of calling off its bombing in support of a massive new government advance. | Video

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Drug cartel battle kills 52 in northeastern Mexican prison

MONTERREY, Mexico A battle between the feared Zetas drug cartel and rivals at a prison left 52 people dead in the northeastern Mexican city of Monterrey, authorities said on Thursday, days ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis to another jail in Mexico's far north. | Video

4:07pm EST

Obama, Netanyahu may agree defense deal in Washington next month, envoy says

JERUSALEM U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might meet in Washington next month and complete a deal on future defense aid to Israel that has been dogged by disagreement, the U.S. ambassador to Israel said on Thursday.

Israel 2:30pm EST

Iran's main opposition leaderless, but insists it's not a spent force

ANKARA Hope for change is dwindling but not gone among supporters of Iran's main pro-reform opposition, although its leaders remain under house arrest and pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani looks incapable of achieving the freer society he promised.

Davos 3:43pm EST

U.S. says has no reason to doubt North Korea army chief executed

WASHINGTON The United States said on Thursday it had no reason to doubt reports that North Korea executed its army chief of staff, describing it as typical of Pyongyang's brutal political climate.

North Korea 3:46pm EST

South Sudan president appoints rival as deputy, sealing peace deal

JUBA South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has re-appointed his rival Riek Machar as vice president, a decree said on Thursday, sealing a deal to try to end months of civil war in the world's newest nation.

Africa 3:52pm EST

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