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Nigeria Hopes 'Deal' with Boko Haram Improves Image in West

Nigeria's disputed claim to have brokered a ceasefire agreement with Boko Haram and release deal for more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls was aimed at improving the country's tarnished reputation abroad and little to do with domestic politics, analysts say.

The surprise announcement on Friday created a sliver of hope that the brutal five-year Islamist uprising could be nearing an end and that the girls seized from the northeast town of Chibok of April 14 might rejoin their families.

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Sudan President Bashir to Run for Re-Election in 2015

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir -- in power since a 1989 coup -- will stand for re-election in 2015 after being retained Tuesday as leader of the ruling National Congress Party, a top aide said.

Bashir, the only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), was re-elected as both leader and presidential candidate of the NCP at a party convention, said his chief assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour.

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Pakistani Executed in Saudi for Drug Trafficking

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded a Pakistani convicted of drug smuggling, the interior ministry announced, bringing to 58 the number of executions in the conservative Muslim kingdom this year.

Baz Mohammed Ghul Mohammed was found guilty of attempting to smuggle a "large amount of heroin" by hiding it in his stomach, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

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Khamenei Says Iraq Can Battle IS Without Foreigners

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday told Iraq's visiting premier that the Baghdad government is capable of defeating Islamic State jihadists without foreign troops being deployed.

"We stand beside you and will seriously defend your government like the previous government," Khamenei said in a meeting in Tehran with Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

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Hong Kong Government Hopeful for more Talks with Protesters

Hong Kong's government held its first talks Tuesday with pro-democracy protest leaders after three weeks of mass rallies and roadblocks which have posed a challenge to Beijing, and said it hopes for more discussions.

The embattled leader of the semi-autonomous Chinese city extended a potential olive branch to protesters hours before the talks began, saying he was open to creating a more democratic committee to help choose his successor.

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Egypt Clamps down on Campuses over New Unrest Fears

As the new academic term began in Egypt, riot police were standing guard at Cairo's universities to quash any repeat of Islamist-led protests that turned campuses nationwide into battlefields.

The authorities have tightened security at leading universities across the country -- the last bastions of protests backing ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after a nationwide government crackdown crushed his supporters, leaving hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

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S. Korea Urges Prudence Ahead of Leaflet Launch into North

South Korea's unification minister on Tuesday urged activists planning to float anti-Pyongyang leaflets into North Korea to act prudently, ahead of proposed high-level talks.

The appeal comes as military tensions run high between the two Koreas following a series of minor border skirmishes that have raised military tensions.

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British Drones to Gather Intelligence over Syria

British drones deployed to counter Islamic State jihadists in Iraq will also be used for surveillance over Syria, the government in London said Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced last week that unmanned Reaper drones were being re-deployed from Afghanistan to the Middle East.

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Migrant Flow to Morocco-Spain Border Fence 'Doubles'

Migrants are scrambling to reach Spain's north African territory Melilla at double the rate of last year, an official said Tuesday, speaking days after evidence of abuse by border guards sparked outrage.

The head of the Spanish government delegation in the territory Abdelmalik El Barkani said the number of attempts by desperate migrants to scale the seven-meter (23-foot), triple layer fence separating Melilla from Morocco had surged so far in 2014.

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Turkey Orders New Arrests of Top Police in Eavesdropping Probe

Turkey on Tuesday launched a new operation to arrest top police officers suspected of involvement in illegal eavesdropping on senior officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The operation targeted 18 senior police figures in Ankara including the former head of national police intelligence, Omer Altiparmak, and the former deputy head of the Ankara police Lokman Kircili, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

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