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Putin says annexation of Crimea partly a response to NATO enlargement

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Russia had been forced to respond to NATO enlargement and that its annexation of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, was partly influenced by the Western military alliance's expansion into eastern Europe. Putin said Moscow will respond if the United States moves ahead with plans to base elements of a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, accusing Washington of fuelling a Cold War-style arms race.

Massacre-scarred Algeria village votes for 'peace, that's all'

In a village scarred by one of the bloodiest massacres of Algeria's civil war in the 1990s, residents turned out for Thursday's presidential election to vote for "peace, that's all". The military-backed government's decision to cancel elections in 1991 that Islamists were poised to win sparked a decade of bloodshed, and the violence of the 1990s is never far from Algerians' minds.

UK 'will catch' killer of Libyan embassy policewoman

Britain's top police chief said Thursday he remained determined to catch the killer of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, exactly 30 years on since she was shot dead from inside the Libyan embassy. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe joined Fletcher's family, colleagues and friends in laying floral tributes at the spot in London's St James's Square where she fell on April 17, 1984. She was 25. More than 50 people held a two-minute silence at a service held by the memorial stone unveiled by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985.

Oil slick is not from missing Malaysian jet

An oil slick sighted during the sea search for a Malaysian airliner did not come from the plane, officials said Thursday, dashing hopes of finding a definitive answer to the fate of the jet. "Preliminary analysis of the sample collected by ADV Ocean Shield has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid," Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), which is organising the search, said in a statement. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

U.S. offers to cut tariffs on 99.5% of goods under TPP

The United States has proposed eliminating tariffs on 99.5 percent of goods imported from Japan, as it presses Tokyo to scrap tariffs even on agricultural products to clinch a 12-nation Pacific free trade deal, a Japanese government source said Thursday. As of last December, Japan had proposed bringing its tariff liberalization rate to 92 percent, prompting the United States to press Japan in subsequent bilateral talks, the source said.

Obama's Prague agenda is for youth to inherit

Since President Obama made his momentous Prague speech five years ago calling for a world without nuclear weapons, people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to request that the president visit their cities. While many feel that Obama's Prague agenda has lost momentum in the face of the harsh realities of both international security and domestic politics, it is fair to say that significant progress has been made on both the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation fronts.

China to appeal WTO rare earth ruling

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday it would appeal against a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found it violated global trade rules with its export limits on rare earth minerals used in defense and technology products. China lost a WTO dispute in March, handing Europe and the United States a victory over what they see as China's unfair trade practices. "China will make the utmost efforts in the appeals process," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters at a monthly briefing.

China to appeal WTO rare earth ruling

China will appeal a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that its export restrictions on rare earths and other resources broke international rules, the commerce ministry said on Thursday. The WTO's disputes settlement body decided last month that China's export duties and quotas, plus limits on who could trade in the rare earths tungsten and molybdenum -- which are key raw materials for hi-tech goods -- skewed global commerce against other nations.

Polls open in Algeria presidential election

The polls opened in Algeria's presidential election on Thursday with the incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika seeking a fourth term despite his chronic health problems. More than 260,000 police have been deployed to protect the 50,000 polling booths set up across Africa's largest country, where 23 million Algerians are eligible to vote in a contest between six candidates after polling opened at 8:00 am (0700 GMT).

Jan-March foreign direct investment in China up 5.5%

Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China increased 5.5 percent in the first three months of the year despite faltering in March, the government said Thursday, though outbound investment slumped. FDI, which excludes investment in financial sectors, totalled $31.55 billion in the March quarter, the commerce ministry said in a statement. However, investment in March declined 1.47 percent to $12.24 billion, it said. "Major Asian countries' and regions' investment in China generally maintained a steady growth momentum," ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said.
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