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Biden, Erdogan Did Not Reach End to Disputes Over Syria

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul in a bid to ease strains over the Syria crisis and persuade Turkey to step up its support for the coalition against Islamic State (IS) jihadists.

The trip to Istanbul by Biden, the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Turkey since Erdogan was elected president after over a decade as prime minister, comes amid unusual tensions in the traditionally strong relationship between the two NATO allies.

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Dutch Teen in Court after Mum 'Rescues' her from IS

A blonde, blue-eyed Dutch teenager from a Catholic family who was rescued by her mother after marrying an Islamic State fighter in Syria is to appear in court Friday on terror charges.

Nineteen-year-old Aicha arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday with her mother Monique after going to Syria in February to marry an IS fighter she saw as a Robin Hood figure.

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Turkey to Bridge the Dardanelles in New Mega Project

Turkey is planning to build a bridge across the famed Dardanelles strait to help ease traffic congestion in Istanbul, a minister said, revealing the latest in a string of mega projects under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The straights, which separate Europe and Asia, were last bridged by Xerxes the Great, the Persian "king of kings" in 480 BC on his way to defeat the Greeks at Thermopylae.

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Turkey Launches Crackdown on Synthetic Drug 'Bonzai'

Turkey is launching an "all-out war" against the use of bonzai, a synthetic drug which has become a serious social problem in the country, the health minister said Friday.

Bonzai, which has become a craze in some parts of low income Turkish society, has come under the spotlight recently after a spate of deaths of young men caused by the abuse of the drug.

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Turkish Parliament Okays Sending Troops on Africa Mission

Turkish lawmakers approved Thursday sending troops on a year-long mission with EU forces in the Central African Republic and Mali as Turkey continues efforts to bolster its presence in the region.

The motion passed easily with support from the ruling party and the main opposition, although the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) voted against it, the private Dogan news agency reported.

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IS Has 'Impaled' itself on Kobane, Says Top U.S. Envoy

The Islamic State (IS) group of jihadists has "impaled itself" on Kobane by pouring fighters into the strategic Syrian town so they can be bombed by the U.S.-led coalition, a senior U.S. envoy said Thursday.

Retired General John Allen, coordinator of the coalition against IS in Iraq and Syria, told Turkey's Milliyet newspaper an estimated 600 IS fighters had already been killed in air strikes and the group would ultimately be defeated in the battle for the town.

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Turkish PM Visits Iraq as Ties Thaw

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met his Iraqi counterpart Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad Thursday, as long-strained ties between the two countries improve.

Davutoglu was given an official welcome at the main palace in the heavily fortified Green Zone, after which he held talks with Abadi, the Iraqi premier's office said, without providing further details.

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Turkey Response to Syria Refugee Crisis Showing Strains, Says Amnesty

Turkey's widely-admired response to the refugee crisis sparked by the war in neighboring Syria is now showing its limitations, with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees living in destitution and others being denied entry, Amnesty International warned Thursday.

Turkey has taken in 1.6 million Syrian refugees since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 but only 220,000 of these are living in refugee camps -- which are now operating at full capacity -- and the rest are fending for themselves, Amnesty said.

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Pope Gunman Requests Appointment to Meet Francis

Turkish extremist Mehmet Ali Agca, who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II more than three decades ago, has asked the Vatican for permission to meet Pope Francis when he visits Turkey next week, reports said Wednesday.

The pope is due to visit Turkey for the first time from November 28-30, during which time he will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

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Istanbul Plans Redevelopment of Controversial Protest Park

Turkish authorities said on Wednesday they intend to go ahead with the redevelopment of Istanbul's Gezi Park, the same project that sparked deadly nationwide anti-government protests last year.

The controversial plans to raze the park and rebuild an Ottoman-era army barracks on the site, which is adjacent to the main Taksim Square, have been included in the Istanbul municipality's strategic agenda for 2015-2016.

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