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Reuters World News Highlights 1400 GMT, Jan 25

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

CAIRO - Youths fought Egyptian police in Cairo and Alexandria on Friday on the second anniversary of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak and brought the election of an Islamist president who protesters accuse of riding roughshod over the new democracy.

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SEGOU/BAMAKO, Mali - French-backed government forces advanced into northern Mali on Friday towards the Islamist rebel stronghold of Gao, recapturing the town of Hombori, as they followed up on relentless French air strikes against the rebels.

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AMMAN - The Syrian army has stepped up an offensive on opposition Sunni Muslim strongholds in the central city of Homs, bringing in ground forces and loyalist militia to try to secure a major road junction, opposition sources said on Friday.

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SEOUL - North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened U.N. sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.

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MOSCOW - Police broke up a "kiss-in" protest by gay activists who scuffled with Russian Orthodox Christians outside parliament on Friday before it considered a law banning the promotion of homosexuality.

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FALLUJA, Iraq - Iraqi troops shot dead at least four people during clashes with Sunni Muslim protesters in Falluja on Friday in escalating unrest against Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

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LONDON - Britain's economy shrank more than expected at the end of 2012 with a North Sea oil production slump, lower factory output and a hangover from London's Olympics pushing it perilously close to a "triple-dip" recession.

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BEIJING - China's disgraced former senior politician, Bo Xilai, will go on trial next week, a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper said on Friday, in what would be the final act of a drama that has shaken the ruling Communist Party.

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BEIJING - China and Japan sought to cool tensions over a chafing territorial dispute on Friday, with Communist Party chief Xi Jinping telling an envoy from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he was committed to developing bilateral ties.

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SEOUL - South Korean prosecutors have detained and charged a Korean American with the illegal transfer of a staggering 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) in Iranian money frozen in South Korea under international sanctions, the lawyers said on Friday.

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WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Thursday lifted a longtime ban on women serving in front-line combat positions, taking a historic step toward gender equality in the U.S. military after 11 years of war in which women were increasingly present on the battlefield.

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WASHINGTON - John Kerry urged Congress to fix the U.S. economy to ensure America's role as a world leader and pledged to keep pressure on Iran at a Senate hearing on Thursday that left little doubt he will win easy confirmation as secretary of state.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130125/reuters-world-news-highlights-1400-gmt-jan-25