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Tajik Forces Declare Ceasefire for Talks

Tajik government forces Wednesday declared a temporary ceasefire to allow for talks in a massive military operation in the southeast against militants loyal to an ex-warlord, a military source said.

The ceasefire started at 05:00 GMT and would end at 0900 GMT, the military official told Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, adding the talks involved Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khayrulloyev and representatives of the town of Khorog that was the focus of this week's deadly clashes.

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Iran Ups Uranium Enrichment

Iran is defiantly forging on with its controversial nuclear activities by activating hundreds more uranium enrichment centrifuges, according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"There are currently 11,000 centrifuges active in enrichment facilities" in Iran, he was quoted by state media as saying late on Tuesday in a meeting with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior regime officials.

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Northeast India Clashes Kill 35, Displace 170,000

The death toll from ethnic violence in northeast India rose to 35, officials said Wednesday, as military reinforcements were called in to quell more than four days of clashes.

At least 170,000 villagers have fled their homes in Assam state to seek shelter in relief camps, government buildings and schools to escape the unrest, which has raged since Friday with dozens of homes burnt down.

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Mukherjee Sworn in as Indian President

Former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee called for action to tackle India's dire poverty as he was sworn in as president on Wednesday during an elaborate display of pomp and circumstance.

The presidency is mainly a ceremonial role, but Mukherjee used his acceptance speech to appeal for India to prioritise the hundreds of millions of poor who have been left behind by recent economic growth.

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6.4-Magnitude Quake Hits Indonesia's Sumatra

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday, sending terrified residents fleeing from homes and buildings.

One man collapsed and died of shock while rushing out of his home, authorities said.

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EU, Iran Officials Hold Talks on Nuclear Row

Senior European and Iranian diplomats met in Turkey on Tuesday in a bid to seek common ground in the protracted negotiations on Tehran's disputed nuclear drive.

Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri met EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's deputy Helga Schmid at an undisclosed location in Istanbul for talks that were closed to the press, officials said.

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Council of Europe Slams Governments for Anti-Muslim Laws

Muslims living in Europe regularly face violence and prejudice and are the subject of several discriminatory European laws that bolster their social exclusion, a top human rights official said Tuesday.

Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, called on governments to do more to combat anti-Muslim discrimination and said lawmakers should stop targeting the religious group through legislation or policy.

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China Censors Coverage of Deadly Beijing Floods

Beijing authorities have reportedly ordered Chinese media to stick to positive news about record weekend floods, after the death of at least 37 people sparked fierce criticism of the government.

Censors also deleted microblog posts criticizing the official response to the disaster in China's rapidly modernizing capital, which came at a time of heightened political sensitivity ahead of a 10-yearly handover of power.

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Firefighters Close in on Deadly Spain Blaze

Firefighters were on the verge Tuesday of stamping out a wildfire in Spain that killed four people and sent terrified campers from across Europe fleeing for their lives, officials said.

Hundreds of emergency workers and volunteers were fighting the fire, which has raged over 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres), devouring tall trees and leaving charred earth and flocks of dead sheep in its wake.

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Prosecutors Charge Cameron's ex-Aide with Phone-Hacking

British prosecutors Tuesday charged Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief Andy Coulson and former tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks with phone hacking as the scandal lapped at Downing Street's door.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced that eight people, all either current or former employees of Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of the World tabloid, would face charges of illegal interception of voicemails.

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