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U.S. 'al-Qaida Backer' Pleads Guilty to Pentagon Bomb Plot

An American al-Qaida supporter admitted plotting to bomb the Pentagon and the Capitol using explosives-laden model planes and will be jailed for 17 years, officials said Tuesday.

In an agreement reached last week, Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, pleaded guilty to attempting to damage and destroy the Washington landmarks by means of an explosive and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

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Hollande, Cameron Downplay Euro Row

French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron tried Tuesday to laugh off a rocky start to their relationship despite lingering differences over the eurozone crisis.

Hollande also met Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle near London on his one-day visit, the socialist leader's first trip to fellow NATO ally and EU heavyweight Britain since he was elected in May.

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Clinton Eyes Vietnam Trade, Rights as U.S. Pushes Exports

Hillary Clinton met with Vietnam's top communist leaders Tuesday for talks aimed at boosting trade as the U.S. seeks to shore up its stuttering economy with an Asia-focused export drive.

But the Secretary of State, who arrived from a trip to Mongolia, also made a strong push for improved human rights, arguing: "Democracy and prosperity go hand-in-hand. Political reform and economic growth are linked."

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Death Toll from Russia Floods Rises to 172

Residents of a flood-devastated Russian region on Tuesday picked through damaged homes and collected donated clothing amid ongoing criticism of the way officials handled the disaster.

In the worst affected town of Krymsk, the lack of sanitation and high temperatures provoked fears of a disease epidemic, and officials sought to allay the concerns.

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Mali Islamists Destroy Tombs at Ancient Timbuktu Mosque

The Islamists controlling northern Mali on Tuesday destroyed two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mud mosque in Timbuktu, an endangered world heritage site, witnesses told Agence France Presse.

"Currently the Islamists are busy destroying two tombs of Timbuktu's great Djingareyber mosque. They are shooting in the air to chase away the crowd, to scare them," one witness said.

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Eleven Killed in Mexico Gunbattle

Seven police officers and four gunmen were killed Monday in a shootout in Mexico's northwestern state of Sinaloa, a stronghold of one of the country's ruthless drug gangs, officials said.

The state police officers were ambushed, but returned fire "and managed to kill four of the aggressors," an official with the Sinaloa state attorney general's office said.

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NATO Seeks to Boost Number of Women Soldiers, Defense Chiefs

NATO countries should raise the number of women soldiers and improve promotion opportunities for its female security and defense chiefs, alliance officials agreed at a conference in Sofia Tuesday.

"Whether it is ending a conflict, managing a transition or rebuilding a country, the world can no longer afford to continue ignoring half of the population," U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Marie Yovanovitch said at the forum.

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Boko Haram Claims Weekend Funeral Carnage in Nigeria

Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists on Tuesday claimed a weekend attack at a graveyard in central Plateau state that left at least 22 people dead, including two prominent politicians.

Police and officials have blamed nomadic herdsmen for the raid, but in a statement issued from purported spokesman Abul Qaqa, Boko Haram said it "wants to inform of its delight over the success of the attacks we launched... in Plateau state."

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Pakistan MPs Pass Bill Exempting PM from Contempt

Pakistani lawmakers have passed a bill that would exempt senior government ministers from contempt of court proceedings, a move seen as a bid to save the new prime minister from disqualification.

The Supreme Court has given Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf until Thursday to indicate whether he will obey an order to ask Swiss authorities to reopen multi-million dollar corruption cases against the president.

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ICC Sentences DR Congo Militia Boss to 14 Years

The International Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in jail for using child soldiers in his rebel army, in the tribunal's first such order.

"Taking into account all the factors... the court sentences Mr. Lubanga to 14 years in prison," presiding Judge Adrian Fulford told The Hague-based court.

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