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Four French journalists captive in Syria free

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP. In a statement to AFP, the president said he had "learned with great relief this morning of the liberation of the four French journalists". Edouard Elias, Didier François, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torres were held hostage in Syria since June 2013. Hollande said they were "in good health despite the very challenging conditions of their captivity" and would return to France "in the coming hours". frd/er/cc

Indonesia "proud" to host 2019 Asiad if selected

Indonesia said Saturday it would be "proud" to host the 2019 Asian Games after sports sources indicated it was the favourite to take on the event after Vietnam withdrew. Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced on Thursday that his country was pulling out of hosting the 2019 Games because of economic "difficulties". Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) members confirmed to AFP that Indonesia is now the leading candidate but said more negotiations would be needed.

Four French journalists 'free' after Syria kidnap

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP, saying they would be back in France within hours. In a statement to AFP, the president said he had "learned with great relief this morning of the liberation of the four French journalists". Hollande said the four, who had been held in Syria since 2013, were "in good health despite the very challenging conditions of their captivity".

Iran says nuclear experts to hold talks in New York

Iran and world powers will resume technical talks next month in New York ahead of further negotiations on a lasting nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said Saturday. The talks will take place from May 5 to 9 on the sidelines of a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference that is to be held at the United Nations, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told the state broadcaster IRIB. He said the Iranian delegation will be led by Hamid Baeedinejad, like previous rounds, without providing further details.

French hostage says 'very happy to be free'

One of the four French hostages freed after 10 months in captivity in Syria said Saturday he was "very happy to be free", Turkey's Dogan News Agency reported. Didier Francois, smiling broadly and wearing a long beard, spoke briefly to a journalist at a police station in the small Turkish town of Akcakle near the Syrian border, according to images broadcast by the Turkish agency. Francois, along with his colleagues Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres, were found by Turkish soldiers on the border, with their hands bound and blindfolded, Dogan reported.

French hostage says 'very happy to be free'

One of the four French hostages freed after 10 months in captivity in Syria said in Turkey Saturday he was "very happy to be free", the Dogan News Agency reported. Didier Francois, smiling broadly and wearing a long beard, spoke briefly to a journalist at a police station in the Turkish town of Akcakle near the Syrian border, according to images broadcast by the Turkish agency. Dogan said the four men were found by Turkish soldiers on the border with their hands bound and blindfolded. ba/txw/er

Four French journalists free after Syria kidnap

Four French journalists taken hostage in Syria last year were freed on Saturday after a 10-month ordeal in the world's most dangerous country for the media. French President Francois Hollande said Edouard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres were "in good health despite the very challenging conditions of their captivity". Turkish soldiers found the four men abandoned in no-man's land on the border with Syria overnight Friday-Saturday, wearing blindfolds and with their hands bound, the Turkish news agency Dogan reported.

Obama to bolster US 'rebalance' to Asia

President Barack Obama will use an Asian tour beginning next week to bolster US alliances in the region at a time of increased geopolitical tension. Obama is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, and will be under duress to address maritime territorial disputes between US allies and China. Aides said Friday that the president would restate staunch US support for its friends, underline its role as a Pacific power, and seek to reassure the region that his Asia "rebalancing" strategy is not running out of steam.

Historic mass in Turkish-held north Cyprus 'like a miracle'

With a nighttime procession lit by the glimmer of devotional candles and the flash of smartphone cameras, a church in Turkish-held northern Cyprus hosted its first Easter mass in nearly 60 years. Hundreds of Greek Cypriots crossed the Green Line to attend the ceremony at Famagusta's church of St George Exorinos, in the part of the Mediterranean island occupied by Turkish forces since 1974.

Historic mass in Turkish-held north Cyprus 'like a miracle'

With a nighttime procession lit by the glimmer of devotional candles and the flash of smartphone cameras, a church in Turkish-held northern Cyprus hosted its first Easter mass in nearly 60 years. Hundreds of Greek Cypriots crossed the Green Line to attend the ceremony at Famagusta's church of St George Exorinos, in the part of the Mediterranean island occupied by Turkish forces since 1974.
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