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U.S. Seeking to End Sierre Leone VP Crisis

U.S. officials are in touch with Sierra Leone authorities to try to resolve a political standoff around Vice President Sam Sumana, the State Department said Sunday.

But Sumana, who has gone into hiding after requesting asylum from the United States, is not being sheltered inside the U.S. embassy in Freetown.

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Pope Francis Condemns Pakistan Church Attacks

Pope Francis on Sunday condemned two suicide attacks on churches in Pakistan and accused the world of "seeking to hide" the persecution of Christians.

"It's with pain, much pain that I was told of the terrorist attacks against two Christian churches in Lahore in Pakistan, which have caused numerous deaths and injuries," the pope said after his weekly Angelus prayer in Rome.

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Jewish Supermarket in Paris Attacked by Jihadist Re-Opens

The Jewish supermarket in Paris attacked by a jihadist gunman linked to the shootings at Charlie Hebdo magazine in January re-opened Sunday, with the French interior minister buying two bottles of wine to demonstrate his support.

"We were stunned by the attack, but there was never any question that we would re-open," said one of the managers of the Hyper Cacher store, Laurent Mimoun.

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Russia to Fete a Year with Crimea back in the Fold

Russia is gearing up to celebrate the one year anniversary on Monday of Crimea voting to leave Ukraine and join the Russian state in a takeover blasted as illegal in the West but seen at home as a triumph for Vladimir Putin.

The hastily organized March 16, 2014 referendum -- which Putin now admits came well after he'd already taken the decision to seize the Black Sea peninsula from Kiev -- kickstarted a bloody separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine and sent Moscow's relations with the West into a tailspin.

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Feared Iran General Tops Person of Year Poll

An Iranian general who has been a key adviser in Iraq's fightback against the Islamic State group was voted Iran's person of the year in an annual poll released Sunday.

General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, won 37 percent of the votes cast in the survey to mark the Persian New Year, Nowruz.

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Taliban Attacks on Pakistan Churches Kill 14, Spark Riots

Fourteen people were killed and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Pakistan's Lahore on Sunday, sparking mob violence in which two other suspected militants died.

Up to 4,000 Christians later took to the streets of the eastern city, many armed with clubs as they smashed vehicles and attacked a city bus station in a rare show of anger by the beleaguered minority.

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Chinese Premier Offers Japan Improved Ties -- with Conditions

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday offered Japan a chance of improved relations -- but only if Tokyo's leadership honestly confronts the country's World War II aggression against China.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, and amid strained ties Beijing frequently calls on Tokyo to take a "correct" view of the conflict and avoid glossing over responsibilities for atrocities during its invasion and occupation of large swathes of the country in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Aid Effort Kicks in after Monster Vanuatu Cyclone

Relief supplies began arriving in cyclone-devastated Vanuatu Sunday as the Pacific nation declared a state of emergency amid reports entire villages were "blown away" when a monster storm swept through.

The official death toll in the capital Port Vila stood at six, although aid workers said this was likely just a fraction of the fatalities nationwide.

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Strong Currents Hamper Search for Myanmar Ferry Victims

Strong currents on Sunday hampered efforts to retrieve the bodies of victims of a ferry accident which killed at least 34 people off western Myanmar, as hopes dimmed for the missing.

The "Aung Takon 3" sank late Friday after leaving the town of Kyaukphyu on its way to Sittwe in western Rakhine state.

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China Will 'Resolutely' Protect Lives near Myanmar Border, Says Premier

Beijing will "resolutely" protect citizens near its southwestern border, Premier Li Keqiang said Sunday after a bomb dropped by a Myanmar warplane killed five people on Chinese territory.

China has sent fighter jets to patrol the border after the incident, in which a bomb hit a sugarcane field in Lincang in Yunnan province on Friday, killing five workers and injuring eight others.

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