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Some U.S. Landmarks, Parks to Reopen under Funding Deals

The Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon are to reopen despite the U.S. government shutdown, with U.S. states temporarily paying the running costs of world-famous landmarks shuttered by the standoff.

Mount Rushmore, Rocky Mountain National Park and eight federal sites in Utah will also reopen starting this weekend, officials said Friday, although other world-famous destinations including Yosemite National Park and Alcatraz prison remain closed.

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Russia Urges U.S. Budget Fix 'As Quickly As Possible'

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov called on the U.S. on Friday to quickly resolve the political stalemate over the U.S. budget and debt ceiling.

Speaking in a meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers, Siluanov said: "I would like to express our wish that our U.S. counterparts will find a solution to this as quickly as possible... Otherwise we can't move ahead."

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Royal Mail Valued at £3.3bn for Stock Market Debut

Britain's Royal Mail will be valued at £3.3 billion ($5.3 billion, 3.9 billion euros) when it launches on the stock market in a controversial part-privatization, the government said Thursday.

The offer price was set at 330 pence per share, which was at the top of the expected range of between 300-330 pence, it said in a statement.

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Government Shutdown to Hit U.S. Courts Next Week

U.S. federal courts will have to close their doors at the end of next week if no deal is reached to end the government shutdown, officials said Thursday.

Barring an agreement by Congress, the courts will face a shortage of funds by latest the end of business on October 18, the U.S. courts' administrative office said.

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Iraq Inks $6 bln Refinery Deal

Iraq on Thursday signed a $6 billion deal for the construction and operation of an oil refinery with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day, a government statement said.

The statement on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's website said he attended a signing ceremony for the deal between "the oil ministry and Swiss company SATAREM."

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Republicans Offer 6-Week Debt Extension, White House Says Likely OK

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said Republicans would vote to extend the government's ability to borrow money for six weeks, averting a default for now — but only if President Barack Obama first agrees to fresh negotiations on spending cuts. Under the Republican plan, the separate partial government shutdown would continue.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama "would likely sign" a bill with no conditions attached increasing the debt cap. He said the president also wants Republicans to reopen the government. But he did not rule out Obama agreeing to the debt ceiling proposal if the government remains closed.

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Chinese, European Central Banks Strike Currency Swap Deal

The Chinese and European central banks said Thursday they reached agreement to set up a "currency swap" mechanism for the purchase and repurchase of their respective currencies, the yuan and euro.

The "bilateral currency swap arrangement" will be valid for three years, the European Central Bank said in a statement on its website.

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Huffington Post Launches German Edition

The Huffington Post, with its mix of online news, gossip and opinion, launched a German edition Thursday, vowing to be among the top five German information portals within five years.

Based in Munich, where it opened a newsroom with 15 journalists with media partner Tomorrow Focus, part of the Burda publishing group, the site will also target the Austrian and Swiss markets.

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Dubai Property Bounces but Stirs Fears of New Bubble

Dubai's property sector is making a strong comeback five years after prices in the emirate nosedived, but a surge in demand and bouncing prices have triggered calls to remember the crisis.

Scale models of grandiose developments rolled out at the three-day Cityscape property show, which ends on Thursday, showed the renewed confidence in a market that shed around half of its value.

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Obama, Republicans to Go Head to Head in Shutdown Talks

President Barack Obama confronts Republican leaders Thursday, just one week before a toxic political stalemate could take an even more extreme turn and degenerate into a historic debt default crisis.

House Republican chieftains, including Speaker John Boehner, will join Obama at the White House, with neither side yet apparently ready to concede ground in a standoff over a government shutdown and raising America's borrowing authority.

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