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France to Abstain in Palestinian Security Council Vote

France confirmed Friday that it would abstain in a Security Council vote on full Palestinian membership of the United Nations, deputy foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.

"France reiterates its consistent proposal to envisage for Palestine, at this stage, the status of non-member observer state through a U.N. General Assembly vote that would be another step towards admission," Nadal said.

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Greece Scraps Referendum Ahead of Crunch Confidence Vote

Greece announced officially Friday that it had scrapped plans to hold a referendum that had enraged EU leaders, ahead of a knife-edge confidence vote which threatened to spark yet more chaos.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement that he had informed top EU officials "of Greece's decision not to hold a referendum", the first senior Greek politician to announce it so clearly.

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Massive Gold Coin Returns to Canada

A large gold coin which had displaced an Australian coin as the world's biggest, but recently lost the title, was on display this week in Canada's largest city.

The coin, measuring 50 centimeters across, took over two years to make from design to final product. When it was introduced in 2007 by the Royal Canadian Mint, it set a Guinness World Record.

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Asian Shares up after Greece Vote U-Turn

Asian markets rose Friday after Greece's prime minister backed away from his controversial plan for a national vote on last week's eurozone rescue package.

Investor confidence was also boosted by a surprise rate cut by the European Central Bank.

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Rising Figure Skating Stars to Steal Show in China

Rising women's stars will take center-stage at Grand Prix figure-skating's Cup of China this week with Japanese teen Kanako Murakami expected to shine.

Murakami, Carolina Kostner and Russian hope Adelina Sotnikova, 15, will face off in the ladies competition while Chinese skaters look set to dominate the pairs event as the six-stop series comes to Shanghai for the first time.

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Volunteers Emerge from 520-Day 'Mars Voyage' Isolation

Six volunteers from a multi-national crew on Friday stepped out of an isolation module in Moscow after almost one-and-a-half years locked away from the outside world to simulate the effects of a return voyage to Mars.

A researcher broke the seal and then opened the door of the capsule and all six crew members, dressed in blue overalls, walked out one-by-one in good health to cheers from scientists and family who had gathered.

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It'll Be Tough without 'Schweini', Admits Bayern's Gomez

Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez is now Germany's highest goalscorer in Champions League history, but the hot-shot admits he will miss injured Bastian Schweinsteiger's silky passes.

Bayern are four points clear at the top of the German league and on Sunday in the Bundesliga take on Bavarian neighbors Augsburg, who are second from bottom, but Munich will be without playmaker Schweinsteiger.

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Spurs Come Unstuck in Russia, Five Teams Qualify in Europa League

Tottenham failed to provide their absent manager Harry Redknapp with a Europa League win after his heart operation on Thursday as elsewhere on the fourth batch of group matches five teams ensured safe passage to the round of 32.

The quintet joining already qualified Sporting Lisbon were Dutch duo PSV Eindhoven and FC Twente, Belgian giants Anderlecht, Polish outfit Legia Warszawa and Spain's Athletic Bilbao.

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23 Killed as Syria Offers Amnesty for Arms Surrender

Syrian troops killed at least 23 people Friday when demonstrators took to the streets denouncing "despots and tyrants," as world powers cast doubt on the regime's commitment to an Arab peace deal.

Troops raked several residential neighborhoods of Homs -- a city of some one million people that has been at the frontline of protests raging since mid-March -- with heavy machineguns mounted on tanks, a watchdog said.

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Hundreds of Foreigners Stranded in Everest Region

Around 1,500 foreign tourists have been stranded in the Everest region due to heavy fog that has halted flights from the only airstrip serving the area, a local aviation official said on Friday.

Thousands of foreign tourists visit the Everest region during the peak tourism season late in the year.

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