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Obama Welcomes South Sudan Ceasefire Deal

U.S. President Barack Obama urged South Sudan's government and rebels Thursday to implement a new ceasefire as soon as possible and cement it with an inclusive political dialogue.

The deal committed both sides to halt fighting within 24 hours and end five weeks of conflict that has left thousands dead.

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N. Korea Urges End to Hostile Military Acts in Letter to South

North Korea urged an end to military hostilities Friday in the latest in a series of apparently conciliatory gestures to South Korea, which has so far reacted with scepticism.

The latest olive branch came in the form of an "open letter" sent to the South Korean authorities by the North's top military body on the direct orders of leader Kim Jong-Un.

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Biden Calls Yanukovych, Urges Peaceful End to Ukraine Crisis

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday to press for a peaceful resolution to the country's political crisis after deadly violence between police and protesters.

Before announcing the call, the White House had put the blame for the violence squarely on government forces in Kiev, but did welcome news of talks between opposition leaders and Yanukovych.

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Defense Secretary Orders Review of U.S. Nuclear Force

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a sweeping review of the U.S. nuclear force after a series of embarrassing incidents including cheating on an exam by missile officers, officials said Thursday.

The Pentagon chief also planned to summon top commanders as recent lapses and allegations "raise legitimate concerns about the department's stewardship of one of our most sensitive and important missions," Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

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Outrage after Ukraine Cop Filmed Abusing Naked Protester

A member of Ukraine's elite Berkut riot police force assaulted and humiliated a naked protester after he was detained in freezing cold temperatures in Kiev, according to a video posted Thursday.

The Ukrainian interior ministry swiftly apologized for the horrific incident, which recalled notorious prisoner abuse scandals like that at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

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Swiss Woman kills Baby in Spanish Detention

A 40-year-old Swiss mother who was being hunted by police killed her 10-month-old baby boy by cutting his throat after being caught and arrested in Spain, police and newspaper reports said Thursday.

Spanish police detained the woman on an international arrest warrant on Wednesday in a Carrefour supermarket in the southeastern seaside city of Torrevieja and took her and her baby to hospital so the child could be treated for water on the brain, leading daily El Pais said.

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U.N. Rights Chief Urges Myanmar to Probe Sectarian Killings

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay urged Myanmar Thursday to investigate reports that more than 40 people had been killed in attacks on Rohingya Muslims in the country's strife-torn Rakhine state.

"I deplore the loss of life in (the village of) Du Chee Yar Tan and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice," Pillay said in a statement.

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Police Blamed for Fifth Death in South Africa protests

A South African man Thursday was wounded and later died after police fired shots at a protest march that turned violent near Johannesburg, a police spokeswoman said.

The 28-year-old became the fifth protester to die allegedly at the hands of police in separate demonstrations in just the past two weeks.

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Ashton to Meet Yanukovych in Kiev Next Week

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Thursday she will meet Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders in Kiev next week in an effort to promote dialogue.

"I am convinced that, in light of the violent escalation of events, the EU has to reinforce the efforts in support of the political solution," Ashton said.

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South Sudan Government, Rebels Sign Ceasefire

South Sudan's government and rebels on Thursday signed a ceasefire agreement, pledging to halt fighting within 24 hours and end five weeks of bitter conflict that has left thousands dead.

The agreement was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa by representatives of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel delegates loyal to ousted vice president Riek Machar, and was greeted by cheers from regional mediators and diplomats.

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