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Reuters World News Highlights at 1345 GMT, Feb 06

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

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A magnitude 8.0 earthquake that shook the Solomon Islands on Wednesday generated a tsunami that reportedly "destroyed" coastal villages in the island nation, but a tsunami warning initially issued for the wider South Pacific region was later cancelled.

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AMMAN - Heavy fighting erupted in Damascus on Wednesday as rebels launched an offensive against President Bashar al-Assad's forces, breaking a lull in the conflict, opposition activists said.

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KIDAL, Mali - French and Malian troops are fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahara outside northern Mali's biggest town, France's defence minister said on Wednesday, describing the desert campaign against al Qaeda as a "real war" that was far from won.

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TUNIS - A Tunisian opposition politician was shot dead on Wednesday, sending protesters onto the streets of cities nationwide two years after the uprisings that swept Tunisia's president from power and inflamed the Arab world.

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WASHINGTON - Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc settled charges it had manipulated the Libor interest rate benchmark, the top U.S. derivatives regulator said, paying fines totaling $612 million to three regulators in the UK and the United States.

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CAIRO - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the first visit to Cairo by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and said he had offered the cash-strapped Arab state a loan, but drew a cool response.

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BEIJING - China expressed serious concern on Wednesday after North Korea stepped up its bellicose rhetoric and threatened to go beyond a third nuclear test in response to what it sees as "hostile" sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch.

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BANGALORE - China's role in operating a strategically important port in Pakistan is a matter of concern for India, its defence minister said on Wednesday, as New Delhi and Beijing jostle for influence in the region.

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MOSCOW - Migrant workers helping Russia prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are being cheated out of wages and denied adequate rest, food and housing, a human rights group said on Wednesday.

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The U.S. government is seeking $5 billion in its civil lawsuit accusing Standard & Poor's of a flagrant scheme to defraud investors, in one of the Justice Department's most ambitious cases tied to the financial crisis.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130206/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-1345-gmt-feb-06