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Erdogan Hails French Senators' Move to Block Genocide bill

A group of French senators said Tuesday they had asked the constitutional council to examine a new law that punishes denial of the Armenian genocide, effectively suspending the legislation.

Turkey reacted furiously last week when the Senate approved the law which threatens with jail anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turk forces amounted to genocide.

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7 Pakistani Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Taliban in Tribal Belt

Dozens of heavily armed Taliban militants attacked a Pakistani military post on Tuesday, sparking clashes that killed seven soldiers and wounded another 10, the military said.

Helicopter gunships were mobilized when the fighting broke out in the same Jogi area as clashes killed six soldiers on January 25 in the district of Kurram, part of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.

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Obama Downplays U.S. Drone Use in Iraq

President Barack Obama downplayed a recent report about the use of U.S. drones in Iraq, indicating that the unmanned aircraft are mainly used for embassy surveillance.

Obama said during an online event on Monday that a New York Times story citing Iraqi officials as expressing outrage over the use of U.S. drones following last year's troop withdrawal was "a little overwritten."

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29 Abducted Chinese still Being Held as China Sends Team to Sudan

None of the 29 Chinese workers abducted after an attack in a volatile region of Sudan have been freed, Chinese state media said Tuesday, dismissing reports that some of the workers had been released.

The workers were abducted Saturday by militants in a remote region in the country's south. Sudanese state media reported Monday that 14 of them had been freed, but the official Xinhua News Agency and China Daily newspaper said all 29 were still being held.

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Serb Ultra-Nationalist Seselj Sues U.N. Court

Serbian ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj has filed a two-million-euro suit against the U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal for "violations of elementary human rights", the court said Monday.

"On account of the violations of elementary human rights during his nine-year detention, Professor Vojislav Seselj seeks damages from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the amount of two million euros," Seselj said in his claim, filed before judges on January 12.

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Afghanistan to Hold Saudi Talks with Taliban

Afghan officials and representatives of the Taliban insurgents fighting the Western-backed government are to hold peace talks in Saudi Arabia, a Riyadh-based Afghan diplomat said on Monday.

"An Afghan government delegation and a Taliban delegation will hold talks in Saudi Arabia," the diplomat told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, but he could not give a timeframe.

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Freeze Kills Dozens in Eastern Europe

Freezing weather has killed dozens of people in central and eastern Europe over the past few days and temperatures are set to drop even further, authorities warned Monday.

In Poland, police said 10 died over the weekend as temperatures plunged to minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 Fahrenheit), raising the death toll from exposure to 46 since the start of the winter, which had been unusually mild up till now.

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Up to 500,000 May Flee Sudan Fighting to South Sudan

Up to half a million starving refugees could flee violence in Sudan within months, sparking a massive food crisis in newly independent South Sudan, the U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP) has warned.

WFP's Deputy Executive Director Ramiro Lopes da Silva said relief agencies were preparing for the worst, with Sudan's government in Khartoum blocking emergency aid into border regions where it is battling rebel forces.

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NATO Sticks to 2014 Afghan Pullout despite Early French Exit

NATO is committed to plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the alliance chief said Monday after France decided to end its fighting role a year earlier.

"We stick to the roadmap that was outlined at the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010," Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters at NATO headquarters after talks with Romanian President Traian Basescu.

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Beijing Says Sudan Rebels Still Hold 29 Chinese Workers

Twenty-nine Chinese workers described as hostages by Sudan's military are in good shape and will be released when the security situation allows, their rebel captors told Agence France Presse on Monday.

"They are okay. They are doing well," said Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan state.

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