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Reuters World News Highlights 2200 GMT Feb 25

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

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ROME - A huge protest vote by Italians enraged by economic hardship and political corruption pushed the country towards deadlock after an election on Monday, with voting projections showing no coalition strong enough to form a government.

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VATICAN CITY - A senior cleric resigned under duress on Monday and Pope Benedict took the rare step of changing Vatican law to allow his successor to be elected early, adding to a sense of crisis within the Roman Catholic Church.

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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 to negotiate with rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

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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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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama urged state governors on Monday to pressure Congress to prevent $85 billion in across-the-board government spending cuts from going into effect on Friday, saying he is willing to reach a compromise with Republicans.

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NEW ORLEANS - The long-awaited trial of BP for the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill began on Monday, with governments, businesses and individuals blaming the company for the 2010 disaster that killed 11 rig workers and spilled 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

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CARACAS - From a billboard bearing his face, to a giant inflatable doll and posters hawked on the street below, there is no shortage of images of Hugo Chavez at the Caracas military hospital where he has been since returning from Cuba.

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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.

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NICOSIA - Cypriot president-elect Nicos Anastasiades, armed with a clear mandate from voters to spare the island from insolvency, said on Monday he was committed to reforms in return for a financial bailout.

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SE'EER - Masked Palestinian gunmen fired in the air on Monday as thousands marched at the West Bank funeral of a prisoner whose death in an Israeli jail has raised fears in Israel of a new uprising.

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OSLO - Global warming may have caused extreme events such as a 2011 drought in the United States and a 2003 heatwave in Europe by slowing vast, wave-like weather flows in the northern hemisphere, scientists said on Tuesday.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130225/reuters-world-news-highlights-2200-gmt-feb-25