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Obama Calls for Ceasefire in Sudan

President Barack Obama is calling on Sudan's warring factions to end the bloody violence threatening a peace agreement as the south gears up for independence due in three weeks.

"There is no military solution," Obama said in an audio message recorded late Tuesday for the U.S.-funded Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting network.

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U.N. to Ease Taliban Sanctions to Boost Reconciliation

The U.N. Security Council will consider Friday removing about 20 former senior Taliban commanders from an international sanctions list to boost reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, diplomats said.

In another sign that the international coalition in Afghanistan wants a negotiated peace, the council will also divide the U.N. sanctions list between al-Qaida and the Taliban to draw a distinction between them.

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S. Korea Vows Strong Response if N. Korea Attacks

South Korea's military must retaliate "strongly and thoroughly" if North Korea attacks again, President Lee Myung-Bak said Wednesday.

He made the remarks in a speech read out on his behalf at the inauguration of a new military command, created to bolster defenses on islands near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

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Six Dead in Afghan Suicide Car Bombing

A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives in central Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing two policemen and four civilians, a spokesman for interior ministry said.

The attack happened in Kapisa province, northeast of the capital Kabul, spokesman Najib Nikzad said.

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Afghan Vice President, Interior Minister Escape Rocket Attack

The Taliban targeted top government officials in Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing seven people in a suicide car bombing and firing rockets at the vice president and interior minister, who escaped unhurt.

Both attacks struck central Afghanistan, not far from the heavily secured capital Kabul, and were claimed by the militia leading a nearly 10-year insurgency against U.S.-led NATO troops and the Afghan government.

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NYT: Pakistan Arrests CIA Informants

Pakistan's top military spy agency has arrested five Pakistani informants who assisted the CIA ahead of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The arrests of the men, including a Pakistani Army major said to have copied the license plate of cars that drove up to bin Laden's compound deep in Pakistan, comes amid strained ties between Washington and Islamabad in the wake of the U.S. Navy SEALs raid last month.

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U.S. Issues Travel Alert for Parts of Philippines

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday warned of the risk of terrorist activity on the Philippine island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, but said attacks could occur anywhere, including Manila.

"Targeted sites may be public gathering places including, but not limited to, airports, shopping malls, conference centers, and other public venues," the State Department said.

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Key U.S. Senate Panel Approves Panetta for Pentagon

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved Leon Panetta's nomination to be US defense secretary on Tuesday, setting the stage for a full senate confirmation.

Panetta, 72, who has served President Barack Obama as CIA chief, was expected to sail to confirmation by the full U.S. Senate, though the precise timing of a final vote was not yet clear.

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Republicans Pound Obama in First Big Debate

Republican presidential candidates led by frontrunner Mitt Romney used their first big televised debate to lash out at President Barack Obama -- but not each other.

The debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, late Monday did little to define differences between the seven candidates in the unwieldy Republican line-up as White House hopefuls reserved their venom for Obama on the economy and foreign policy.

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After Abyei Deal, Bombs Rain Down on Sudan Border State

Khartoum stepped up air strikes in South Kordofan on the south Sudan border on Tuesday, causing "huge suffering" to the civilian population and endangering emergency aid, the United Nations said.

The attacks came less than a day after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir wrapped up two days of crisis talks in Ethiopia that ended with of a provisional deal to pull the northern army out of the disputed Abyei border district.

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