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France, US back sanctions against S.Sudan

France and the United States called Wednesday for the UN Security Council to consider sanctions against South Sudan over spiraling violence in the country's civil war, diplomats said. US ambassador Samantha Power relayed Washington's position in a closed-door meeting of the 15-member Council, diplomats said, and France's Gerard Araud told reporters before the session that it was time to think about sanctions against those responsible. "I think we should consider sanctions because it is horrendous," he said.

France, US back sanctions against S.Sudan

France and the United States called Wednesday for the UN Security Council to consider sanctions against South Sudan over spiraling violence in the country's civil war, diplomats said. US ambassador Samantha Power relayed Washington's position in a closed-door meeting of the 15-member Council, diplomats said, and France's Gerard Araud told reporters before the session that it was time to think about sanctions against those responsible. "I think we should consider sanctions because it is horrendous," he said.

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'Frozen' soundtrack notches biggest sales week, tops Billboard

Obama to use Japan visit to reassure Asian allies

By Linda Sieg and Matt Spetalnick TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that his real aim is to contain Beijing's rise.

Syria eyes end of chemical arms monitoring mission; West disagrees

By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria declared on Wednesday that it was looking ahead to the dismantling of the international mission overseeing the destruction of the conflict-torn country's chemical arsenal, though Western officials said they want the team to keep working.

Couillard becomes Quebec premier and warns of tough economic decisions

QUEBEC - Philippe Couillard was sworn in as Quebec premier on Wednesday and immediately warned that the time has come for hard economic decisions. The Liberal premier may feel emboldened in introducing austerity measures after winning 70 of the 125 ridings up for grabs in the April 7 election. After unveiling his 26-member cabinet, Couillard reeled off a litany of the economic difficulties facing Quebec: a rampant provincial debt that is the highest in the country; the heaviest tax burden; and the highest level of expenditures.

Moody's cuts Cuba rating on risk from Venezuela turmoil

Moody's cut Cuba's credit rating Wednesday by one notch, citing its vulnerability to a shock increase in fuel costs arising from turmoil in supplier Venezuela. Moody's also cited the risk of a rocky political transition in the Caribbean island in the wake of the Castro regime as it cut the rating to Caa2 from Caa1, well into "speculative" territory for debt. "Cuba relies heavily upon Venezuela for oil, which is imported with favorable financing terms through Petrocaribe," the credit rating firm said.

Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy

By Missy Ryan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.

Online petition on Fair Elections Act gets almost 50,000 signatures in 24 hours

OTTAWA - Thousands of Canadians have signed an online petition urging Conservative senators to put the boots to the government's Fair Elections Act. More than 46,000 people have signed the petition on Avaaz, a global online activist network, calling on Conservative senators to amend the act. Signing the petition, which needed just 24 hours to near its goal of 50,000 signatures, provides links to email addresses and phone numbers so participants can express themselves to senators directly.

US rejects Lavrov's 'ludicrous' Ukraine claims

The United States dismissed as "ludicrous" Wednesday claims by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that it was funding or running an offensive in Ukraine as Washington and Moscow again traded barbs. "I think many of the claims he made in his interview are ludicrous and they're not based in facts of what is happening on the ground," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
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