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Pope Backs Croatia's EU Bid upon Arrival in Zagreb

Pope Benedict XVI gave strong backing to Croatia's bid to join the European Union as he arrived in the Balkan nation Saturday, but said he understands those who fear the EU's "overly strong centralized bureaucracy."

The pontiff also expressed the Vatican's long-running concern that Europe needs to be reminded of its Christian roots.

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U.S. Defense Secretary in Afghanistan on Farewell Visit

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates flew into Kabul on Saturday for a farewell visit to Afghanistan after four and a half years of heading up the war effort at the Pentagon.

Gates is expected to visit some of the roughly 90,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan as part of a 130,000-strong U.S.-led international force trying to stabilize the country and reverse a nearly 10-year Taliban insurgency.

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Ex-U.S. Presidential Candidate Indicted in $900,000 Mistress Cover-up

Former presidential hopeful John Edwards pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of using $900,000 in campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair, proclaiming: "I did not break the law."

Edwards, 57, was charged in a six-count indictment "for allegedly participating in a scheme to violate federal campaign finance laws," the Justice Department said.

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Officials: U.S. Drone Likely Killed Pakistan Qaida Commander Ilyas Kashmiri

A U.S. drone strike likely killed Pakistan's al-Qaida commander Ilyas Kashmiri, in what would deal a major blow to the terror network a month after Osama bin Laden's death, officials said Saturday.

The 47-year-old is one of the most feared operational commanders of the network that Osama bin Laden founded and has been blamed for a string of high-profile attacks on Western targets, as well as in India and Pakistan.

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America's 'Doctor Death,' Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83

The American pathologist, Jack Kevorkian, dubbed "Doctor Death" for helping dozens of terminally-ill people to commit suicide, died Friday at the age of 83 in a Michigan hospital.

"It was peaceful, he didn't feel a thing," his attorney Mayer Morganroth said of Kevorkian, who had been hospitalized with kidney and heart problems.

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Gates Says 'Real Opportunities' for Talks with Taliban

Military pressure on the Taliban could lead to "real opportunities" for peace talks with leaders of the Afghan insurgency within a year, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday.

"My own view is that the political opportunities will flow from military pressure," Gates said at a security conference in Singapore as part of a final tour before stepping down later this month.

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Mladic Slams War Crimes Court 'Obnoxious' Charges

Wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic denounced genocide and war crimes charges against him as "obnoxious" Friday, claiming he was gravely ill as he refused to enter a plea before a U..N. court.

Making his first appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia since his arrest last week, Mladic told the court that he "defended my people and my country" during the 1992-95 Bosnia conflict but declined the opportunity to plead not guilty.

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French Ex-Minister Quizzed over Child Orgy Allegations

Police questioned on Friday a French politician who sparked fury when he alleged that a former minister molested boys at a Moroccan orgy and that senior figures covered it up, officials said.

Luc Ferry, a celebrity philosopher and former education minister, claimed this week in a televised debate that he had heard about the scandal from "a prime minister" during his own time in office between 2002 and 2004.

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Report: More Turkish Soldiers Arrested in Coup Probe

A Turkish court Friday charged another four soldiers over an alleged 2003 plot to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government and ordered them to be detained pending trial, Anatolia news agency reported.

A general heading Turkey's air force academy was among the suspects charged with "an attempt to remove the government by force" after lengthy questioning, Anatolia said.

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Britain Evacuates Indonesia Embassy after ‘Anti-Terrorist Roadblock Lifted’

The British embassy in the Indonesian capital has evacuated its staff after the Jakarta administration ordered anti-terrorist vehicle barriers to be removed from an adjoining road, reports said Friday.

"This is due to circumstances specific to the security arrangements for the site of the embassy building. We're now working off-site in various places," embassy spokeswoman Faye Belnis said.

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