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NATO Calls on Russia to Withdraw Troops ahead of Ukraine Poll

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia Friday to withdraw its troops from Ukraine as the country prepares for key national elections which pro-Moscow rebels plan to prevent in areas they control.

Stoltenberg, who took office last month with the crisis top of his agenda, said Russia's continued presence and support for the rebels violated international law, as well as  Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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Jailed Rwanda Opposition Figure Lodges Complaint with African Court

Jailed Rwandan opposition figure Victoire Ingabire has filed a complaint with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights to demand a retrial, officials said Friday.

Ingabire was sentenced last December to 15 years in jail for "conspiracy in harming authorities through terrorism and war" and for minimizing Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which at least 800,000 people were killed by troops and extremists of the Hutu majority.

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South Sudan Accused of Threatening Aid Groups

International charities working to stem chronic disease and hunger in war-torn South Sudan are facing increased harassment, surveillance and threats of expulsion from the government, according to a charity Friday.

A letter to over 100 international aid agencies from South Sudan's NGO Forum detailed the "increasing trend of harassment and interference targeting NGOs" that is "marked by increased hostility and threats from officials."

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Amnesty International Asks U.S. to End Discriminatory Policing

The U.S. government should take action to stop discriminatory policing across the country, rights group Amnesty International said in a report on Friday that documented abuses during the Ferguson protests.

The racially charged killing of 18-year-old black youth Michael Brown reflected "systemic racial discrimination" which the government should do more to eradicate, Amnesty said.

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U.N. Chief to Visit Horn of Africa Next Week

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon will travel to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya next week, leading a delegation from six other international organizations to the volatile Horn of Africa region.

The secretary-general will be joined by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and by officials from the African Union, the European Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, a U.N. statement said Friday.

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Merkel Urges Putin to Support Solution to Ukraine Gas Dispute

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call Friday to throw his weight behind a quick resolution of an ongoing gas dispute with Ukraine as winter looms.

In the latest talks between the two leaders on the crisis in Ukraine, Merkel also underlined that upcoming elections in areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists must respect national law.

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Zimbabwe Urged to Guarantee Safety of Journalists

Global media watchdog, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, on Friday urged Zimbabwe to guarantee the safety of journalists after a reporter was beaten up and detained by police.

Tapiwa Zivira, a journalist with the privately-owned NewsDay newspaper was attacked days after President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace accused reporters at independent newspapers of writing lies about her.

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Syrian Refugees Bunk Down in Converted Berlin School

Syrian refugees are bedding down in the converted classrooms of a former Berlin high school as Germany grapples with being Europe's number-one destination for asylum seekers.

Among the newcomers is Mohammed Nabil, 28, who after a perilous land and sea journey now shares a small and immaculate if improvised bedroom with his mother, brother and sister in a working class district of the German capital.

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Singapore President Takes Walk on The Wild Side

Singapore's President Tony Tan took a walk on the wild side Friday with a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens in London as he wrapped up his state visit to Britain.

Tan toured the gardens, the world's largest collection of living plants, at the end of a historic four-day visit, during which he stayed with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

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Suspicious Envelopes Sent to Foreign Missions in Istanbul

Suspicious envelopes containing a yellow powder were sent Friday to the Belgian, Canadian and German consulates in Istanbul, prompting a security alert, officials said.

One person who opened the envelope at the Canadian mission was directly exposed to the unknown substance, which was now being analysed by experts, Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said.

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