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Strong 6.9-magnitude Quake Strikes off Mexico

A strong 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Mexico's Pacific coast early Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, with no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The earthquake hit around 12:15 am (0715 GMT) in the Gulf of California, 133 kilometers (82 miles) northeast of the town of Guerrero Negro in the Mexican state of Baja California, according to the USGS.

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Sudan Launches First Warplane Attack on South Sudan Town

Sudanese warplanes launched their first attack on a major South Sudanese town on Thursday, with five bombs dropped on the capital of the oil-producing Unity border state, Southern officials said.

"They dropped bombs in Bentiu town -- apparently they were aiming for a bridge," South Sudan's deputy information minister Atem Yaak Atem told Agence France Presse.

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U.S.-Afghan Talks Face Tough Hurdle over Troops

Washington and Kabul hailed breakthroughs towards signing a treaty on relations after 2014 -- but it will not cover the crucial issue of the status of any U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan.

"Anything having to do with the continued presence of U.S. forces and the roles that they will play will be negotiated separately after the strategic partnership agreement," U.S. embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall told Agence France Presse.

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China Road Crash Kills 23, Injures Three

Twenty-three people were killed and three injured Thursday when a bus and truck collided in China, local authorities said, highlighting the treacherous conditions on the nation's roads.

The accident happened Thursday morning on a highway in the eastern province of Anhui, the provincial press office said in a post on its official weibo, or microblog.

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North Korea Opens 5-day Launch Window for Rocket

North Korea's five-day window to launch a rocket opened Thursday with Asian countries on alert, as Washington told G8 world powers that the communist state was in flagrant violation of a U.N. ban.

The communist state has said it will launch the rocket between Thursday and Monday, most likely between 2200 GMT and 0300 GMT, to mark Sunday's centenary of the birth of its founding leader Kim Il-Sung.

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Clinton: There is Still Time for Diplomacy with Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday there remained time for a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear program but it was "urgent" for the Islamic republic to ease concerns.

Speaking at the start of talks among foreign ministers of the Group of Eight, Clinton said an upcoming meeting between Iran and major powers was "an opportunity for Iran to address seriously the international community's concerns."

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U.S. Center Cancels Tsunami Warning after Indonesia Quakes

U.S. seismologists on Wednesday canceled its warning of a possible tsunami following a massive earthquake and aftershock off the coast of Sumatra.

"Sea level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished for most areas, therefore the tsunami watch issued by this center is now canceled," said the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which monitored currents in the Indian Ocean following the 8.6 magnitude quake and aftershock.

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AU 'Deeply Alarmed' by Growing Sudan-S.Sudan Unrest

The African Union said Wednesday it was "deeply alarmed" by worsening violence between Sudan and South Sudan and called for the withdrawal of Southern troops from the Heglig battle zone.

"The African Union expresses grave concern at the escalating armed conflict on the border between Sudan and South Sudan and calls upon both parties to exercise utmost restraint," it said in a statement.

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Speaker Urges South Sudanese to Prepare Defense in Case of War

South Sudan's parliament speaker urged lawmakers Wednesday to mobilize the people to defend the fledgling nation in case of all-out attack by Sudan, as battle raged along their contested border.

"Khartoum might be meaning a real war... If you don't defend yourself you will be finished, so you should go and mobilize the people on (the) ground to be ready," Speaker James Wani Igga told parliament.

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Spanish Man Feared Kidnapped in Nigeria

Spain said Wednesday that one of its nationals, reportedly a doctor, had gone missing in southern Nigeria and was feared kidnapped.

The disappearance of the man "has all the characteristics of a kidnapping for economic reasons," said Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

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