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Reuters World News Highlights 1800 GMT Feb 25




ROME - Projections from an early vote count in Italy's election on Monday showed Silvio Berlusconi's centre right slightly ahead in the Senate, a result that could cause deep government instability if confirmed.

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MOSCOW - Syria is ready for talks with its armed opponents, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in the clearest offer yet of negotiations with rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

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LONDON - Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric resigned on Monday following allegations he behaved in an inappropriate way with priests, and said he would not take part in the election of Pope Benedict's replacement.

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PRAGUE/STOCKHOLM - Sweden's IKEA halted sales of its trademark Swedish meatballs in 13 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic on Monday showed the product contained horsemeat.

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ALMATY - Major powers will offer Iran some sanctions relief during talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, this week if Tehran agrees to curb its nuclear programme, a U.S. official said on Monday.

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MADRID - The former treasurer of Spain's ruling party, at the heart of a corruption scandal that has politically damaged Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, appeared in court for questioning on Monday about millions of euros he deposited in Swiss accounts.