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Putin and Poroshenko Discuss Ways of Ending Ukraine Crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko discussed steps needed for a ceasefire and ways to end the conflict raging in eastern Ukraine, Putin's spokesman said Tuesday.

"The heads of state exchanged opinions about what needs to be done first in order to bring an end to the bloodletting in the southeast of the country as soon as possible," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

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Venezuelan President Shakes up Cabinet

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday replaced Rafael Ramirez as head of the country's state oil giant PDVSA and appointed him as foreign minister.

Ramirez, who held the post for a decade, was also relieved of his role as the oil minister and vice president for economic policy, to become -- in addition to top diplomat -- political vice president.

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Russian Photojournalist Missing in Ukraine is Dead

Russian photographer Andrei Stenin, missing since early August, has been found dead in Ukraine, the RIA-Novosti press agency he worked for announced on Wednesday. 

"Our colleague, the photographer Andrei Stenin, is dead. It turns out he was not a prisoner, he has been dead for a month," said the agency's head Dmitry Kiselev.

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Japan PM Selects 5 Women in New Cabinet 

Japan's prime minister picked a record-matching five women for his Cabinet Wednesday, sending the strongest message yet about his determination to revive the economy by getting women on board as workers and leaders.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set a goal of having women in 30 percent of leadership positions by 2020, and proved he is out to practice what he preaches in his selection for the 18-member Cabinet, which includes Yuko Obuchi, daughter of a former prime minister, as the trade and economy minister.

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Pakistan: 910 Militants Killed Since June

Pakistan's military says it has killed 910 suspected militants and lost 82 soldiers in a major offensive launched in June in a restive tribal region near Afghanistan.

The military statement released Wednesday says it has cleared the main towns of Miran Shah, Mir Ali, Datta Khel, Boya and Degan, all former militant strongholds in North Waziristan, since June 15, when it launched a major operation there to eliminate local and foreign insurgents accused of orchestrating attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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U.N. Voices 'Serious Concern' on Human Rights in Thailand

The United Nations said Wednesday it was "seriously concerned" about growing restrictions on human rights activists in Thailand after a string of curbs on freedom of expression in the junta-ruled nation.

Since seizing power from the elected government in May, the Thai army has stifled dissent by hauling in anti-coup protesters, muzzling the media and threatening those found in breach of martial law with trial in a military court.

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March 8, PSP Unite in Rejecting Deal with Islamist Gunmen

The March 8 alliance and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat completely reject any bargain in the case of the abducted Lebanese security personnel, As Safir newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“No agreement (with gunmen) will be made,” sources close to the March 8 coalition told the newspaper, warning of the risks posed by such a demeanor.

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Britain Orders £3.5 Billion in Armored Vehicles

Britain has signed a £3.5 billion ($5.8 billion, 4.4 billion euros) contract for armoured vehicles, the ministry of defence said on Wednesday on the eve of a NATO summit in Wales.

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Two S. Korean Soldiers Die during Training

Two young soldiers in South Korea's special warfare unit died during training, the military said Wednesday, following a series of incidents and suicides that have unleashed public fury over bullying in the army.

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Russian Threat Sees Rebirth of Lithuania Paramilitary Group

In thick pine forests hidden in the remote wilderness of eastern Lithuania, young professionals are ditching their suits and ties for camouflage gear, and swapping iPads for rifles.

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