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Report: Shrinking U.S. Presence in Afghanistan Creates Security Concerns

The dwindling U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan is hampering the Pentagon's ability to train and monitor local security forces, a government watchdog report warned Friday.

Since local Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) assumed responsibility for their country's security, taking over from NATO forces at the start of 2015, U.S. troop numbers have dropped to 9,800 -- and are set to fall further still to 5,500 by next year.

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Mexico's Chief Investigator Probed over Missing Students Case

Mexico's head of criminal investigations faced calls to be fired on Thursday as the attorney general's office launched a probe into his handling of a crime scene in the disappearance of 43 students.

The inspector general opened an investigation on Wednesday into officials present at a river in southern Guerrero state on October 28, 2014, the attorney general's office said in a statement on Thursday.

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Three Linked to California Terror Attack Arrested

The FBI arrested three people on Thursday, including the older brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, on charges of marriage fraud and lying to investigators, authorities said.

Syed Raheel Farook, 31, was arrested in the early morning at his home in the California town of Corona, along with his wife Tatiana Farook, also 31.

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British Foreign Secretary in Cuba, a First since 1959

Britain's foreign secretary met Cuban officials Thursday on the first such visit to the island since 1959, for talks on boosting trade and tourism ties with the communist state.

Philip Hammond's trip comes a month after U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to the Caribbean nation, which is opening up to warmer ties with its old Cold War rivals.

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Former U.S. House Speaker: Ted Cruz is 'Lucifer in the Flesh'

Former U.S. House speaker John Boehner, who stepped down last year, let fly with a stunning critique of fellow Republican and 2016 presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, labeling him the devil incarnate.

"Lucifer in the flesh" is how the ever-blunt Republican bigwig described Senator Cruz of Texas, who is struggling to block billionaire Donald Trump's march to the Republican presidential nomination, according to the Stanford Daily newspaper.

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New Brawl Erupts in Turkey Parliament as Tensions Surge

A meeting of a top committee at the Turkish parliament broke up in chaos on Thursday as deputies threw punches and jumped onto tables in a furious confrontation between ruling party and pro-Kurdish lawmakers.

The constitutional committee of parliament was meeting to discuss a government-backed plan to remove the parliamentary immunity of deputies that has already seen tensions surge.

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Trump's 'America first' Policy Would Fail, Says Germany

Germany on Thursday criticized Republican White House frontrunner Donald Trump's "America first" prescriptions for U.S. foreign policy as doomed to failure in today's globalized world.

In restrained diplomatic remarks, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described Trump's radical proposed overhaul of U.S. diplomacy and defense policy presented Wednesday as "not without its contradictions".

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Nigeria and France Strengthen Military Cooperation

Nigeria and France on Thursday signed an agreement on closer military cooperation, including intelligence sharing, to strengthen the fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region.

Nigerian Defense Minister Mansur Dan Ali said the agreement was evidence of a "growing partnership" between Abuja and Paris, as he met his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in the capital.

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Niger Government Extends Emergency Measures against Boko Haram

Niger's government has extended a state of emergency in southeastern territory for three months because of the deadly danger from Boko Haram Islamists based in neighboring Nigeria, state television reported Thursday.

"The security situation in the Diffa region remains alarming because of the high level of threat due to attacks by Boko Haram," said a cabinet statement read on state television.

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French Lawmakers Urge Government not to Renew Russia Sanctions

The French parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution urging the government not to back the extension of sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Thierry Mariani, a lawmaker with the conservative Republicans party, said that two years after the conflict began between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists, the EU sanctions had proved "totally ineffective."

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