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Russia calls new sanctions on Crimea 'collective punishment'

MOSCOW - The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced new Western sanctions against Ukraine's Crimea region on Saturday as a "collective punishment" on local residents who voted in a referendum last March to join Russia.

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North Korea says to boost nuclear power to counter U.S. hostile policy

SEOUL - North Korea vowed on Saturday to boost its "nuclear power" to counter Washington's hostile policy, saying it had become apparent the United States aimed to invade the North under the guise of human rights abuses.

China offers $3 billion in aid and loans to neighbors: Xinhua

BANGKOK/SHANGHAI - China has offered more than $3 billion in loans and aid to neighbors Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos to improve infrastructure and production, and to fight poverty, state media reported on Saturday.

China, Thailand, Myanmar 5:27am EST

Cuban relatives of U.S. spy in dark after news of release

WASHINGTON/MIAMI - His release from a Cuban prison has been as cloak-and-dagger as his spying career ever was.

U.S., Cuba, United Nations 19 Dec 2014

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party said on Saturday it does not support forceful religious conversions, distancing itself from a sensitive issue that has drawn sharp criticism from opposition parties and hurt the government's reform agenda.

7:25am EST

Italy's Renzi wins confidence vote to pass budget in Senate

ROME - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won a confidence vote to get his tax-cutting 2015 budget through the Senate on Saturday and it is expected to be definitively approved by the lower house of parliament next week.

Italy 3:38am EST

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