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Japan Launches Replacement Spy Satellite

Japan on Thursday successfully launched a replacement spy satellite, its aerospace agency said, as an existing device comes to the end of its working life.

Tokyo put spy satellites into operation in the 2000s after its erratic neighbour North Korea fired a mid-range ballistic missile over the Japanese mainland and into the western Pacific in 1998.

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Australia, Cambodia Sign New Asylum-Seeker Deal

Australia and Cambodia on Thursday sealed a second deal on immigration cooperation, vowing to tackle the "growing security threat" of asylum-seeker smuggling just months after agreeing to transfer refugees to the Southeast Asian nation.

The new memorandum of understanding will see the two nations exchange information on people-smuggling activities, building on September's deal to transfer refugees held by Australia on the remote Pacific island of Nauru to Cambodia.

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Ecuador President May Sit Out Summit of Americas

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa could boycott next month's Summit of the Americas over U.S. "lack of respect" for Latin America, Quito's top diplomat warned Wednesday.

"At the moment, the president's attendance is scheduled," Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said of the April 10-11 event, according to a foreign ministry statement.

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U.S. Diplomat: Moscow Could Reignite Ukraine Fighting

The United States fears that Moscow and pro-Russian separatists will reignite the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine following a February ceasefire that has largely held, a U.S. diplomat warned Wednesday.

"Russia can reignite the conflict at any time of its choosing," the senior State Department official told journalists.

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Pilot 'Locked out of Cockpit' before French Alps Crash

One of the two pilots on the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps was locked out of the cockpit before the plane went down, killing 150 people, a source close to the investigation told AFP Thursday.

The breakthrough in the investigation, which only increased speculation as to the cause of the disaster, came as bereaved families began arriving from Spain and Germany near the remote mountainous crash site.

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U.S. Can 'See Path' to Iran Nuclear Deal by Tuesday

A nuclear deal with Iran capping over a decade of talks is in sight by a March 31 deadline, U.S. officials said, but they remained cautious as top diplomat John Kerry prepared Thursday for down-to-the-wire negotiations.

Kerry will push Iran to agree by Tuesday on the outlines of the long-elusive deal disabling parts of its nuclear infrastructure, in return for an easing of crippling global sanctions, at renewed talks in the Swiss lakeside town of Lausanne.

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Syria Destroys Three Chemical Weapons Sites

Syria has destroyed three of its 12 chemical weapons production sites but is unable to dismantle three other facilities because of security conditions, the OPCW chemical watchdog said in its latest report.

The report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was released on Wednesday to the UN Security Council, which is overseeing efforts to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons program.

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Britain Warns of Nuclear Arms Race if Iran Deal Fails

Failure to secure a deal with Iran could mean a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Britain's foreign minister warned in comments released on Thursday.

"I remain clear that no deal is better than a bad deal. But we should also be clear-eyed about the alternative," Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said in a speech in London.

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NY Arrests Subway Sex Attacker after Victim's Online Campaign

The 21-year-old woman was asleep on the New York subway when a man thrust his hand up her skirt and groped her in a shocking sexual assault.

Fellow passengers at the time did nothing -- apart from one who filmed the assault, footage of which wound up on Internet porn sites. 

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U.S. Begins Tikrit Air Strikes in Support of Iraqi Forces

U.S. aircraft on Wednesday launched bombing raids to support Iraqi forces fighting to recapture Tikrit from the Islamic State group, after Baghdad issued a request for air power, U.S. officials said.

"Operations are ongoing. Bombs are falling," a U.S. defense official told Agence France-Presse.

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