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Reuters World News Highlights at 1715 GMT, Feb 07

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Feb 7 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

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TUNIS - Tunisia's governing Islamists rebuffed on Thursday a plan by their party chief and prime minister to replace the government after unrest erupted over the killing of an opposition leader, deepening the worst crisis since the country's 2011 revolution.

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DUBAI - Iran's highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday slapped down an offer of direct talks made by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden this week, saying they would not solve the problem between them.

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AMMAN - Syrian rebels battled army units for control of districts of Damascus for a second day on Thursday, part of a rebel offensive which aims to shake President Bashar al-Assad's hold on the capital, a rebel captain and opposition activists said.

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FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank will monitor the economic impact of a strengthening euro, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday, feeding expectations the climbing currency could open the door to an interest rate cut.

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WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week and a trend reading hit a near five-year low, a sign the grinding recovery in the labor market remains on track.

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WASHINGTON - Some of the toughest questioning at the confirmation hearing Thursday for CIA nominee John Brennan may not come from hostile Republicans but from President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats, who are concerned about his policy of targeted killings of American terrorism suspects.

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NEW YORK - A Bangladeshi man is expected to plead guilty Thursday to attempting to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank with what he believed to be a van packed with explosives, according to court documents.

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ABUJA - Nigeria's four main opposition movements announced a merger, posing the sternest threat in years to President Goodluck Jonathan's ruling party ahead of elections in 2015.

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SOCHI, Russia - Vladimir Putin fired a top Russian Olympic official on Thursday after publicly ridiculing him on a visit to half-finished sports complexes planned for a winter Olympics dogged by reports of corruption and construction delays.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130207/reuters-world-news-highlights-at-1715-gmt-feb-07