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US demands 'concrete steps' by Moscow on Ukraine

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday urged Russia to take "concrete steps" to implement an agreement on defusing the crisis in Ukraine. The accord, struck last week in Geneva, was meant to lower the heat on the worst confrontation between Washington and Moscow since the Cold War, but each side has accused the other of violating it.

Syria calls presidential vote, defying Assad's opponents

By Alexander Dziadosz BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria announced a presidential election for June 3 on Monday, preparing the ground for Bashar al-Assad to defy widespread opposition and extend his grip on power, days after he said the civil war was turning in his favor. Western and Gulf Arab countries that back Assad's opponents have called plans for an election a "parody of democracy" and said it would wreck efforts to negotiate a peace settlement.

Biden makes pointed Ukraine visit as Russia says Kiev reneging on deal

Vice President Joe Biden started a two-day visit to Kiev on Monday in a pointed show of US backing as Russia accused Ukraine's government of "grossly breaching" a deal designed to de-escalate separatist tensions. Biden was to reinforce a message to Russia -- which Washington sees as supporting Ukraine's insurgency -- that time is running out for it to persuade pro-Kremlin rebels holding a string of eastern towns to comply with the pact struck in Geneva on Thursday, a senior US official told reporters travelling with the vice president.

Biden makes pointed Ukraine visit as Russia says Kiev reneging on deal

Vice President Joe Biden started a two-day visit to Kiev on Monday in a pointed show of US backing as Russia accused Ukraine's government of "grossly breaching" a deal designed to de-escalate separatist tensions. Biden was to reinforce a message to Russia -- which Washington sees as supporting Ukraine's insurgency -- that time is running out for it to persuade pro-Kremlin rebels holding a string of eastern towns to comply with the pact struck in Geneva on Thursday, a senior US official told reporters travelling with the vice president.

Biden heads to Ukraine as Russia accuses Kiev of violating accord

Russia on Monday accused Ukraine of flouting an international accord meant to diffuse the crisis over its separatist east, as US Vice President Joe Biden was to about to arrive in Kiev in a show of support for its pro-Western leaders. "The Geneva accord is not only not being fulfilled, but steps are being taken, primarily by those who seized power in Kiev, that are grossly breaching the agreements reached," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a Moscow press conference.

Sing-along saint: Showbiz world gets papal inspiration

Pope John Paul II's extraordinary life is being set to music in Rome, with audiences enjoying a flourish of theatre shows about the former playwright and future saint ahead of his canonisation on Sunday. Highlights like his famous meeting with his would-be assassin Ali Agca in 1983 and his famous phrase "Be not afraid!" have become modern dance numbers and jaunty tunes in an unusual cocktail of piety and showbiz. Nuns and priests were out in force at a performance of "Karol Wojtyla: The True Story" -- one of at least three pope-linked productions in the Eternal City.

Bankers win friends again in Europe with lure of easy money

By John O'Donnell BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Jacques de Larosiere says he is an isolated and modest man. Yet the 84-year-old former head of the International Monetary Fund is one of the most influential voices in European and global finance. An eminence grise as respected among France's political elite as in the heart of the law-drafting European Commission, de Larosiere finds himself at the nexus of finance and rulemaking, treading a fine line between lobbying and advice.

Family of promising musician stabbed at Calgary house party "devastated" by loss

CALGARY - The family of a promising musician stabbed to death along with four other young people at a Calgary house party last week is "devastated" he won't be coming home. Zackariah Rathwell, 23, was a first-year student at the Alberta College of Art and Design. He was in a band called Zackariah and the Prophets along with Josh Hunter, 22, a commerce student at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business. Rathwell's family issued a statement late Sunday afternoon.

C.Africa on the 'brink of genocide', warns Tutu

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu warned Sunday that the Central African Republic was "on the brink of genocide", as he urged warring sides to reconcile their differences and "re-learn to live together". "Over the past 13 months, the nation's seemingly incessant struggles for political power and resources have degenerated into anarchy, hatred and ethnic cleansing -- the country stands on the brink of genocide; some would say it has already commenced," Archbishop Emeritus Tutu said in a statement released by his peace foundation.

Twitter blocks two accounts on its Turkish network

Twitter blocked two accounts on Sunday that had been used to spread corruption allegations against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his government and his inner circle. The move came after high-level meetings between the government and executives from the company last week, and after the Turkish government provoked a storm in March by trying to ban the network entirely.
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