Reuters World News Highlights at 2200 GMT, Jan 8

TOP STORIES

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JAMMU, India - India accused old enemy Pakistan of sending troops across the heavily militarised line dividing the disputed region of Kashmir on Tuesday, and said two of its soldiers were killed and one wounded in a gunfight.

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KAMPALA - Congolese rebels declared a unilateral ceasefire on Tuesday ahead of a second round of peace talks with the government, boosting hopes for a negotiated end to their nine-month-old revolt.

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CAIRO - Qatar threw Egypt an economic lifeline on Tuesday, announcing it had lent Egypt another $2 billion and given it an extra $500 million outright to help control a currency crisis.

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MUKHTARA, Lebanon - World powers are abandoning Syria to be "systematically destroyed" by a civil war which has already wrecked whole cities in a once-great Arab nation, Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said.

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ISTANBUL - The Turkish government and the jailed leader of a Kurdish insurgency have agreed on the framework for a plan to end a war that has killed 40,000 people since 1984, envisaging rebel disarmament in exchange for increased minority rights, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON - The powerful U.S. gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, is slated to meet with Vice President Joe Biden as he considers recommendations on how to respond to a mass shooting last month in Newtown, Connecticut, the White House said on Tuesday.

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CARACAS - Venezuela's opposition demanded on Tuesday to know if President Hugo Chavez was well enough to be sworn in for a new term this week, and two Latin American leaders confirmed they would come even in his absence.

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NEW DELHI - Three of the men accused of raping and murdering an Indian student have asked lawyers to defend them and the lawyers have agreed to do so, even though most of the judiciary has refused to represent the suspects because of outrage over the attack.

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CANBERRA - Australian fire crews battled hundreds of wildfires, a searing heatwave and powerful, hot outback winds on Tuesday, but were hopeful they had dodged a potentially catastrophic fire day without loss of life or major damage.

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JERUSALEM - The Israeli government kept clear on Tuesday of a brewing battle in Washington over U.S. President Barack Obama's choice for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, whose record on Iran and Israel is under scrutiny.

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WASHINGTON - Just two weeks before his second inauguration, President Barack Obama is acting as if he believes he has a big mandate for his next term. The latest sign: his decision to defy a concerted campaign against his choice for defense secretary.

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GUANGZHOU, China - The Communist Party chief of Guangdong province stepped in to mediate a standoff over censorship at a Chinese newspaper on Tuesday, a source said, in a potentially encouraging sign for press freedoms in China.

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TOKYO - A Japanese-led team of scientists has captured on film the world's first live images of a giant squid, journeying to the depths of the ocean in search of the mysterious creature thought to have inspired the myth of the "kraken", a tentacled monster.