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Japan Hails China Ties despite Islands Dispute

Japan rejected Chinese protests Monday over the raising of a Japanese flag on disputed islands but sounded a placatory note, saying ties with Beijing are among the "most important" it has.

Tokyo stood firm in its insistence that islands where Japanese nationalists landed on Sunday, which it administers, were part of its territory, but said it wanted to improve ties with its giant neighbor.

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Dictator's Daughter to Run for S. Korea Presidency

South Korea's ruling party overwhelmingly voted for the daughter of an assassinated dictator to be its presidential candidate Monday, the first time a major party has chosen a woman to run for the post.

Veteran politician Park Geun-Hye -- who also lost her mother to a gunman -- secured a landslide 84 percent of the vote to easily see off four male challengers at the primary of the conservative New Frontier Party.

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Top U.S. General Takes on Afghan 'Insider Attacks'

The top U.S. military officer held talks with NATO commanders in Afghanistan on Monday, looking to halt unprecedented attacks by Afghan allies that have killed 40 Western soldiers so far this year.

Ten soldiers, mostly Americans, have been killed by Afghan allies in the past two weeks, while the total toll of 40 this year makes up 13 percent of all international coalition deaths.

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Myanmar Ends Decades of Media Censorship

Myanmar said it had abolished media censorship on Monday in the latest in a series of rapid democratic reforms, delighting journalists who lived for decades under the shadow of the censors' marker pen.

Draconian pre-publication checks -- applied in the past to everything from newspapers to song lyrics and even fairy tales -- were a hallmark of life under the generals who ran the country for almost half a century until last year.

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Clinton Wishes Muslims Peaceful Eid al-Fitr

Top U.S. diplomat Hillary Clinton wished Muslims well for the feast of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Sunday in many countries.

"As we mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims around the world, I am delighted to wish all Muslims a peaceful and joyous Eid al-Fitr,"Clinton said in a statement.

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Report: FBI Probed Republicans' Drunken Israel Trip

The FBI has investigated an incident that saw at least one Republican congressman swim naked at a drinking party in Israel last year attended by top leadership staff, Politico reported Sunday.

The news website said Representative Kevin Yoder of Kansas stripped and jumped into the Sea of Galilee during the privately-funded trip, joining colleagues and their family members who were partially or fully clothed.

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South Korea, U.S. Start Major Military Drill

The South Korean and U.S. military Monday began an annual joint exercise to test defenses against North Korea, a drill denounced by Pyongyang as a rehearsal for war.

More than 30,000 U.S. troops, both those based in the South and some 3,000 from overseas, are taking part in the drill known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which ends on August 31, the U.S. forces said in a statement.

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Assange Demands Release of Alleged WikiLeaks Source Manning

Julian Assange called Sunday for U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, the alleged source of a massive trove of secret government documents published by WikiLeaks, to be released from a military prison.

Assange made the appeal in a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, his first address since he was granted political asylum in his long-running bid to avoid extradition from Britain to Sweden.

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Somali Lawmakers Prepare to Elect New President

Somalia's newly appointed legislature will elect the country's next president Monday, in a fresh bid to end two decades of unstable central government in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

The election of the new president would complete a complex process set in motion through a U.N.-backed agreement aimed at ending eight years of rule by Somalia's graft-riddled, Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and, it is hoped, would bring peace.

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Assange Tells Obama to End WikiLeaks 'Witchhunt'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange urged President Barack Obama to end the U.S. "witchhunt" against his whistleblowing website, in a speech Sunday from the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy.

"I ask President Obama to do the right thing, the United States must renounce its witchhunt against WikiLeaks," said Assange, making his first public statement since being granted political asylum by Ecuador on Thursday.

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