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Chemical Plant Blast Kills 14 in China

Fourteen workers were killed and five injured Saturday in an explosion at a chemical plant in east China, state media reported, citing local authorities.

The explosion occurred around 2pm at a melamine production facility in Xintai, in Shandong province, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Ethiopian Troops Cross into Somalia

Several hundred Ethiopian troops crossed on Saturday into southern and central Somalia, local elders said, but Addis Ababa dismissed the reports as "absolutely not true."

"There are several hundred Ethiopian troops here in lorries and some armored vehicles too," said elder Abdi Ibrahim Warsame, speaking by telephone from Gurel town, in Somalia's central Galgudud region.

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Pope's Africa Roadmap Says AIDS Mainly an Ethical Problem

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday signed off on an African roadmap for the Roman Catholic Church that calls for good governance and denounces abuses, while labeling AIDS a mainly ethical problem.

Benedict signed the apostolic exhortation called "The Pledge for Africa" during a visit to the West African nation of Benin, his second trip to the continent as pontiff.

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Sniper Kills Armenian Soldier in Karabakh

An Armenian soldier was shot dead by an Azerbaijani sniper on the frontline in the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh on Saturday, the separatist Karabakh defense ministry said.

"Nineteen-year-old conscript Aren Simonian died because of enemy sniper fire," the ministry said in a brief statement.

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Key Afghan Meeting Backs Deal with U.S.

Afghan elders Saturday endorsed a long-term strategic partnership deal with the United States while insisting on a string of binding conditions.

Their declaration came at the end of a four-day loya jirga or traditional meeting which also supported holding talks with members of the Taliban who renounce violence, despite the murder of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani.

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Dalai Lama Questions Self-Immolations

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said he is worried about the growing number of monks and nuns setting themselves on fire in southwest China, in an interview broadcast Saturday.

The Dalai Lama told the BBC that those setting themselves alight were courageous, but questioned how effective self-immolation was as a form of protest against Chinese rule.

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Two Afghan Policemen Killed by NATO Troops

Two Afghan policemen were killed and three wounded when NATO-led forces shot them at a checkpoint, a local police chief said Saturday.

The incident happened due to a "misunderstanding" between international troops and the Afghan forces, who are jointly fighting a ten-year Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, the chief added.

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Obama Meets Chinese Premier after Week of Wrangles

U.S. President Barack Obama held previously unannounced talks with China's Premier Wen Jiabao Saturday, after a week of sharp exchanges between the two nations during Obama's Pacific tour.

Obama and Wen met on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, following public spats over currency, trade and a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

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2 Dead, 12 Hurt in French Retirement Home Blaze

Two elderly men died and a dozen retirees were hurt, most of them through smoke inhalation, on Friday when a fire broke out in a French retirement home, officials said.

The blaze broke out in the "Les Flots" home for the elderly in La Rochefoucauld near Angouleme in the Charente region of southwest France, killing an 82-year-old and a 90-year-old, they told reporters.

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U.N. Atomic Watchdog Condemns Iran

The U.N. atomic watchdog's board passed Friday a resolution of "deep and increasing concern" about Iran's nuclear activities after a damning new report from the Vienna-based body.

But the text, proposed at the International Atomic Energy Agency by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and 12 others, stops short of reporting Iran to New York or setting Tehran a deadline to comply.

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