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U.S. Senate Approves More Sanctions against Iran

The U.S. Senate on Monday approved new sanctions against Iran aimed at convincing the Islamic Republic to suspend its uranium enrichment, which western powers say is a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

The measure was approved unanimously ahead of talks Wednesday in Baghdad between Iran and representatives of the world's main powers.

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Putin Writes to Obama on Security, Missile Defense

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spelled out his views on security, bilateral relations and regional cooperation in a letter to U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, a Russian diplomatic source said Monday.

The letter was delivered by Putin's Kremlin predecessor Dmitry Medvedev who attended the G8 summit at Camp David at the weekend after Putin had cancelled his U.S. visit on the grounds that he was too busy picking a cabinet.

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IAEA Chief Hails 'Intensive' Nuclear Talks with Iran

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano hailed "intensive" talks on Iran's nuclear program during a visit to Tehran on Monday, state television said, but spoke of no progress on a key inspection issue.

Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, also lauded the "good talks" he had with Amano, according to the broadcaster IRIB.

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Italy Quake Zone Hit by Aftershocks as 4,000 Seek Shelter

Several thousand Italians were sheltering in cars and makeshift tent cities Monday as a series of aftershocks rattled towns across the northeast after a strong quake killed six people.

Sunday's 6.0 magnitude quake reduced homes and historic buildings to rubble in the densely-populated Ferrara area, Italy's industrial heartland but also home to priceless architectural and art treasures.

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Putin Puts Stamp on New Russia Government

President Vladimir Putin put his stamp on a new government Monday that kept his most trusted allies in charge of finance while leaving tested veterans at the helm of foreign affairs and defense.

But the cabinet also left some room for open-market reformers, with the appointment of a liberal aide of current premier and Putin's predecessor Dmitry Medvedev to a key industry post.

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French Prosecutors Probe Strauss-Kahn Rape Accusations

French prosecutors on Monday opened a preliminary investigation into accusations that disgraced ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn took part in a gang rape in the United States.

Prosecutors in Lille, where Strauss-Kahn and three others have been charged in a pimping case, said the probe centred on an incident "that could be described as gang rape" that took place in Washington, DC in December 2010.

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U.S. Envoy Warns against any N. Korea Nuclear Test

A senior U.S. official warned North Korea Monday against conducting another nuclear test, saying it would be a "serious mistake" that would incur more sanctions and further isolation.

"I think it will be a serious miscalculation and mistake if North Korea were to engage in a nuclear test," Glyn Davies, U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, told reporters.

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Prosecutors Seek Life Term for Bali Bombmaker

Indonesian prosecutors on Monday asked for a life sentence rather than the death penalty for Umar Patek, the bombmaker accused of being behind the Bali attacks that killed 202 people.

When the trial started in February prosecutors had said they would seek capital punishment for Patek, who was held last year in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, four months before al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was killed there.

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IAEA Chief in Iran to Urge more Cooperation on Nuclear Activities

The head of the U.N.'s nuclear surveillance agency pressed Iran over inspections during a visit to Tehran on Monday that was being closely watched ahead of wider nuclear talks between Iran and world powers later this week.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said as he left on the trip he was to have "direct talks with high officials of Iran" to build on "good progress" made last week between IAEA and Iranian officials in Vienna.

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Protesters Clash with Police at NATO Summit in Chicago

Protesters clashed with riot police Sunday as an anti-NATO protest turned ugly in Chicago when a few hundred demonstrators demanding an end to war ignored orders to clear the streets.

As NATO leaders held talks focused on Afghanistan, officials said an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people marched in the city, but later some protesters faced off with baton-wielding police.

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