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Colombia Rebel Chief Confirms Peace Talks with Govt.

Colombia is on course for another try at ending Latin America's last armed conflict, with confirmation Monday from the FARC leftist rebel leader that preliminary talks have taken place with the government on launching a full-blown peace process.

"We come to the table for dialogue without rancor, or arrogance," FARC leader Rodrigo Londono said in a broadcast on the Caracol radio station.

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Minister Accused of Abuse to Become Afghan Spy Chief

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has nominated a cabinet minister to head the country's spy agency who has been accused of involvement in torture, drug-trafficking and corruption.

Asadullah Khalid, the minister for borders and a one-time governor of the Taliban-troubled province of Kandahar, must be approved by a parliamentary vote before taking office as head of the National Directorate of Security.

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Tymoshenko Asks for EU Help against Ukraine's 'Dictator'

Ukraine's jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko urged European powers to help free her country from its "dictator" President Viktor Yanukovych, speaking in an interview published Monday.

Tymoshenko, whose incarceration is seen by most Western powers as politically motivated, said the Ukrainian opposition and European nations must act now, ahead of October 28 general elections.

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Still No Bail for Pakistan 'Blasphemy' Girl

A Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that has sparked international outcry must spend at least four more days in jail after a court adjourned a bail hearing on Monday.

Judge Muhammad Azam Khan has repeatedly delayed bail proceedings for Rimsha Masih, who was arrested last month accused of burning papers containing verses from the Koran in breach of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

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Report: U.S. to Ramp up Pressure on Iran to Avoid War

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is undertaking "a range of steps short of war" that it hopes will prevent an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, The New York Times reported Monday.

The measures are designed to force Tehran to negotiate more seriously over its nuclear program and offer Israeli officials a credible alternative to a military strike on the Islamic state, the paper said.

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European Parliament Partly Closed Due to Cracks in Ceiling

The European parliament building in Brussels has been partially closed following the discovery of cracks in beams over the plenary chamber, the parliament said Monday.

Cracks in three of 21 wooden beams were found during routine inspections but more work is needed to find the source of the problem, causing the administration to temporarily close part of the building, a statement said.

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30 Dead As Kurdish Rebels Clash with Turkey Forces

Kurdish rebels armed with machine-guns and rocket launchers attacked a security complex in southeastern Turkey overnight, triggering fierce fighting that left about 30 people dead, local sources said Monday.

Ten soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the attack in the province of Sirnak, the local government said, while other local sources said about 20 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were also killed.

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Australia Says Karzai 'Wrong' on Afghan Operation

Australia Monday flatly rejected comments from Afghan President Hamid Karzai that a recent night-time raid which left two men dead was carried out without the approval of local authorities.

Kabul had slammed Australia over the mission, carried out in the wake of last week's killing of three Australian troops by a rogue Afghan soldier, describing it as a "unilateral military operation".

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U.S. Confirms Attack on Consulate Vehicle in Pakistan

The United States confirmed that an American vehicle was attacked in the city of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Monday, wounding two American and two Pakistani consulate staff.

The information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, insisted in the regional parliament that two Americans were also killed, without giving any further details on their identity.

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10 Police Hurt in N. Ireland Sectarian Scuffles

Ten Northern Irish police officers were injured on Sunday, three of them hospitalized, when violence flared ahead of a republican parade close to central Belfast, police said.

Pro-British protestors attempted to disrupt the planned march and police were pelted with bricks, stones and golf balls, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

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