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U.S. to Grant Refugee Status to Central American Child Migrants

The United States will allow some Central American children to apply for refugee status from their home countries, as Washington seeks to stem a large, clandestine influx of minors, Vice President Joe Biden said Friday.

The program, which begins in early December, only applies to children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with at least one parent who is a legal resident of the United States.

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Canada-U.S. Pipeline Passes One U.S. Legislative Hurdle

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada, but the measure could still find itself blocked in the Senate.

The project, which would bring oil from tar sands in Alberta province to US refineries, passed the Republican-controlled House by 252 votes to 161, with 31 Democrats supporting the measure.

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Petrol Station Blast in Kano, Nigeria a Suicide Attack, 6 Dead

Six people, including three police, were killed in a suspected Boko Haram suicide attack at a petrol station in Nigeria's biggest city, Kano, police said on Friday.

"A man driving a Toyota Sienna drove into the filling station as if he was going to buy fuel. The vehicle exploded causing six deaths, including three policemen," the Kano state police commissioner Adelenre Shinaba told reporters.

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Burkino Faso Power Transition Deal to be Signed on Saturday

Burkina Faso's army, political parties and civil groups will sign an agreement on Saturday for the west African nation's return to civilian rule after the ouster of its long-serving president.

"We feel we have really accomplished something and we are naturally very happy," said Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, who the army put in power after Blaise Compaore was forced out of  office on October 31 by mass protests. 

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Afghan President Makes First Pakistan Trip with Eye on Taliban Talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made his first official trip to neighboring Pakistan on Friday, seeking to improve ties crucial to his hopes of reviving Taliban peace talks as U.S. troops end their 13-year war.

Ghani will hold talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the pair are expected to watch a cricket match between the two countries on Saturday, in a public demonstration of better relations despite fraught cross-border tensions.

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Chad Puts Former Aides to Ex-President Habre on Trial for Reign of Terror

Twenty nine aides to Chad's ousted dictator Hissene Habre went on trial Friday before a special court in N'djamena charged with mass murder and torture during his rule in the 1980s.

In the very first trial inside Chad arising from the "black years" between 1982 and 1990, when thousands of people were killed or grievously hurt, the top suspect was Saleh Younous, once head of the Directorate of Documentation and Security (DDS), which was Habre's political police.

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Mexico Human Rights Chief Replaced amid Massacre Fury

Rocked by the presumed massacre of 43 students who disappeared in late September, Mexico has appointed a new head of human rights to the lead the violence-plagued country's abuse-investigating body.

Mexico's Senate Thursday voted former prosecutor Luis Raul Gonzalez to head the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

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Fifteen Killed as Soldiers, Insurgents Clash in Philippines

Fifteen people were killed in heavy fighting between government forces and al-Qaida-linked militants in the southern Philippine jungle on Friday, the military said.

Close to 100 ground troops with helicopter support engaged some 300 Abu Sayyaf insurgents in Talipao town on Sulu, said Colonel Allan Arrojado, the army commander on the island.

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Pope Targeted by Explicit Protest on St. Peter's Square

Femen, the women's rights group known for topless protests, took their act to a new level of provocation on Friday with an explicitly sexually suggestive demonstration in front of the Vatican.

In what they described as a protest over Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the European Parliament, three members of the group appeared on St Peter's square wearing only leather mini-skirts and flower garlands in their hair.

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Hagel: 'Systematic problems' threaten U.S. nuclear force

The U.S. nuclear force is plagued by low morale, manpower shortages and mismanagement that could jeopardize its safety and effectiveness, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

Pentagon reviews, he said, "found evidence of systematic problems that if not addressed could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of elements of the force in the future."

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