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Open letter before European Parliament vote calls for prioritizing democracy

Nearly 300 signatories have signed an open 10-point letter before next month's European Parliament election, saying lawmakers should be putting democracy at the top of their agenda in an increasingly authoritarian world.

The letter, which was released on Thursday, calls for widening powers to uphold the rule of law, ensuring new digital technologies safeguard human rights, and to place democracy at the heart of the European Union's security, migration, energy, and trade agendas.

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Slovak PM fights for life after assassination attempt

Slovakia's populist Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times and gravely wounded Wednesday, but his deputy prime minister said he believed Fico would survive.

The prime minister had been greeting supporters at an event when the attempted assassination took place, shocking the small country and reverberating across Europe weeks before an election.

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Ukraine says halted Russian 'advance' in some Kharkiv zones

The Ukrainian army on Thursday said it had halted the Russian advance in some zones of the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Moscow's troops launched a new offensive on May 10.

"The situation in the Kharkiv sector remains complicated but is evolving in a dynamic manner. Our defence forces have partially stabilised the situation, the advance of the enemy in certain zones and localities has been halted," the army spokesman said.

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China's Xi says he and Putin agree on need for 'political solution' to Ukraine conflict

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Thursday that he and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed on the need for a "political solution" to the war in Ukraine, following talks between the two presidents in Beijing.

"Both sides agree that a political solution to the Ukraine crisis is the correct direction," Xi told media alongside Putin in a joint press conference broadcast by Russian television.

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France accuses Azerbaijan of interference in New Caledonia riots

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of "interference" in the politics of Pacific territory New Caledonia, hit by deadly pro-independence riots in recent days.

"This isn't a fantasy... I regret that some of the separatists have made a deal with Azerbaijan," Darmanin told broadcaster France 2, while adding that "even if there are attempts at interference... France is sovereign on its own territory, and so much the better".

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Putin says Russia prepared to negotiate over Ukraine ahead of China visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his regime is prepared to negotiate over the conflict in Ukraine in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of visit to partner Beijing that has backed Moscow in its full-scale invasion of its neighbor.

"We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours," Putin was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.

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Harvard students end protest as university agrees to discuss Middle East conflict

Protesters against the war between Israel and Hamas were voluntarily taking down their tents in Harvard Yard after university officials agreed to discuss their questions about the endowment, bringing a peaceful end to the kinds of demonstrations that were broken up by police on other campuses.

The student protest group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine said in a statement that the encampment "outlasted its utility with respect to our demands." Meanwhile, Harvard University interim President Alan Garber agreed to pursue a meeting between protesters and university officials regarding the students' questions.

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Zelensky postpones foreign trips amid Russian offensive

Ukrainian forces withdrew from some areas of the country's east and battled Russian troops in others on Wednesday, as President Volodymyr Zelensky postponed all his upcoming foreign trips, underscoring the seriousness of the threat his soldiers are facing.

Against that grim backdrop, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to reassure the ally of continuing American support, visiting a drone manufacturing facility in Kyiv on the second day of his trip.

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ICC prosecutor faces demand for action against Israeli leaders, Putin

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor is facing demands for speedy action against Israeli leaders and a blistering Russian attack over the ICC's arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin stemming from Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Karim Khan responded by telling the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that he will not be swayed or intimidated as his team investigates possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Gaza and the Palestinian territories as well as in Ukraine.

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Macron calls crisis meeting after 2 killed, hundreds hurt in New Caledonia riots

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday convened a defense and national security council meeting to discuss riots that have killed two and injured hundreds in New Caledonia, his office said.

Macron has cancelled a trip to a French region planned for early Wednesday to handle the crisis in the Pacific territory, and the regular weekly cabinet meeting has been moved to the afternoon, officials said.

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