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Skiing on the Edge of Syria's War

The snowy ridge of Mount Hermon separates two worlds. In one, Syria's war rages. In the other, Israeli tourists slalom down ski slopes or drink mulled wine to the sound of techno music.

On a clear day Damascus is visible from the top of the ski lift 2,200 metres (7,200 feet) above sea level in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights where tourists reapply their sunscreen.

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In Syria Talks, Global Powers Pull in Many Directions

The Syrian peace talks, which got off to a start of sorts this weekend, are meant to be a uniquely Syrian affair. But in reality there is a host of outside interests also at the table, in spirit at least.

What began as a popular revolt against the authoritarian rule of President Bashar Assad in March 2011 quickly degenerated into a multi-front civil war that sucked in regional and global powers and created a chaos exploited by brutal jihadist groups. 

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France, a Quiet but Significant Presence in Cuba

France, one of Cuba's leading economic partners, has forged close ties with the island, even if its commercial presence lags far behind that of Venezuela or China, countries close to the Cuban regime.

In 2013, French-Cuban trade totaled 278 million euros ($301 million in today's dollars), but it fell to 180 million euros in 2014 and probably a similar level in 2015, according to official French data.

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Syria Peace Talks Face Formidable Challenge

Divisions among Syria's opposition and anger over regime blockades almost sank new peace talks in Geneva before they began, and analysts say prospects of a breakthrough at the negotiations remain slim.

On Friday, after four days of suspense, Syria's main opposition umbrella group finally announced it would send representatives to Geneva.

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Syria: Four Years of Efforts to End the Conflict

Multiple attempts to resolve the Syrian conflict since 2011 have failed.

With new peace talks to open on Friday in Geneva, here is a recap of previous efforts:

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In Mideast Wars, Hunger Grips Millions across the Region

In a Middle East torn apart by war and conflict, fighters are increasingly using food as a weapon of war.

Millions of people across countries like Syria, Yemen and Iraq are gripped by hunger, struggling to survive with little help from the outside world. Children suffer from severe malnutrition, their parents often having to beg or sell possessions to get basic commodities including water, medicine and fuel.

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Iowa, where White House Dreams Live and Die

Voters take a first stab at electing Democratic and Republican nominees on Monday in Iowa -- a state with a patchy record of picking the eventual U.S. president but which can easily recast the race.

Iowa was so central to Barack Obama's path to the presidency that his 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe once summed up his whole strategy as "win Iowa, or else."

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'Dead Syrian' Facebook Post Spotlights German Refugee Fears

A Facebook post about the death of a Syrian refugee in Germany sparked a storm of reaction this week, only for the author to admit making it up, highlighting a rash of online rumors fueled by a record asylum seeker influx.

At first glance, it was all too credible: a 24-year-old Syrian had been queuing for days in the cold at Berlin's notoriously chaotic refugee registration center Lageso even though he was ill. 

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Gbagbo Trial Rekindles Controversy in Africa over Western Justice

The groundbreaking war crimes trial in The Hague on Thursday of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo has rekindled a bitter row across Africa over the international justice system.

With Gbagbo the first ex-head of state hauled into the dock at the world's only permanent war crimes court, some in Africa are lashing out at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly pursuing Africans alone.

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Egypt's Top Auditor Faces Backlash over Corruption Findings

Egypt's top auditor ignited an uproar when he estimated that corruption had cost the country billions of dollars. Yet the anger was not directed against the government or even long-established oligarchs, but at the auditor himself.

Hesham Genena has endured a barrage of criticism from pro-government media, well-connected businessmen and senior officials since he was appointed in 2012. But now President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former military chief who has vowed to wipe out corruption, appears to be siding with Genena's critics.

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