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Panetta Heads to Asia with Focus on N.Korea

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta embarks Sunday on a tour of Asia to take the pulse of key allies as Washington prepares for rare direct talks with North Korea over its nuclear program.

In his first trip to the region since taking over the Pentagon in July, the former CIA director will begin with a stop in Indonesia before heading to Japan on Monday and South Korea on Wednesday.

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Foreign Governments Call for Building New Libya

Foreign governments from Britain to China hailed a new day for Libya following Moammar Gadhafi's death and called on the new government to move swiftly to rebuild a shattered economy and restore order amid chaotic celebrations.

Amid the overwhelmingly positive response, there were concerns too about further political violence or a veering off into extremism in the wake of Gadhafi's nearly 42-year regime. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the international community needed to work with the governing transitional council to ensure Libya "does not become another Iran."

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U.S. Wants Pakistan to Take 'Strong Steps' on Afghan Militants

The United States called on Pakistan Friday to take action within "days and weeks" on dismantling Afghan militant havens and encouraging the Taliban into peace talks in order to end 10 years of war.

Crucially Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to extract recognition from Pakistan that it could do more in clamping down on Afghan insurgents using Pakistani soil to attack Americans but it offered no details on how.

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Bangkok Suburbs Soaked in Floodwaters

Thailand's prime minister urged Bangkok's residents to get ready to move their belongings to higher ground Friday as the country's worst floods in half a century began seeping into the capital's outer districts.

The warning came one day after the government opened several key floodgates in a risky bid to let built-up water flow through the city's canals toward the sea. Authorities had said the canals could overflow, but it was not known to what degree.

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Spain Hails ETA End to Basque Separatist Violence

Spain is claiming an end to four decades of violent bombings and shootings after the Basque separatist group ETA announced it would lay down its arms and try to negotiate its demand for a separate nation.

ETA has killed more 800 people in its drive for an independent state and stopped short of declaring it was defeated, but issued an historic announcement Thursday ending its armed struggle with an appearance via video of three ETA members wearing trademark Basque berets and masks with slits for their eyes. At the end of the clip, they defiantly raised their fists in the air demanding a separate Basque nation.

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Chinese Toddler Ignored by 18 Passers after Injury Dies

A Chinese toddler who was ignored by 18 passers-by as she lay critically injured in the street after being run over by two vehicles has died, the hospital treating her said Friday.

Surveillance camera footage of people walking past the two-year-old girl, nicknamed Yue Yue, as she lay bleeding and unconscious sparked a wave of condemnation and soul-searching on China's hugely popular social networking sites.

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Frenchwoman's Kidnappers Demanding Cash for Body

The Somali kidnappers of a disabled Frenchwoman who died after being snatched from her home in Kenya are demanding a ransom for the return of her body, France said on Thursday.

"The hostage-takers are even trying to sell the remains, it could not be more despicable," French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told the i-TELE news network.

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Islamist Rebels under Attack in Somalia

African Union and Somali government troops battled Shebab rebels in the anarchic capital Mogadishu Thursday, as Kenyan troops in the south continued their assault on Islamist positions there.

Heavy fighting broke out before dawn in Mogadishu as AU-backed Somali forces advanced on holdout Islamist Shebab positions, officials and witnesses said.

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NATO Begins Dismantling Kosovo Serb Barricade

NATO-led peacekeeping troops fired teargas to disperse protesters Thursday as they began dismantling a barricade erected by Serbs in northern Kosovo near a disputed border crossing with Serbia.

No injuries were reported in the incident at around 6:00 am (04:00 GMT) as an armed transporter approached to remove a truck in the center of the Kosovo Serbs' barricade, an Agence France Presse correspondent reported.

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Clinton Says 'Major Military Operation' Ongoing against Haqqanis

A major offensive is under way against Haqqani militants in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan must act to remove safe havens on its side of the border, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

"We are taking action against the Haqqanis. There was a major military operation inside Afghanistan in recent days," she told a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

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