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Japan, U.S., Australia foreign ministers meet over strategic issues

The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and Australia met Friday over issues of joint concern including China's maritime assertiveness and the situation in Syria, Japanese officials said. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and new Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met for strategic talks on the sidelines of the two-day ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which started the same day.

U.N. Security Council calls on Syria to improve humanitarian situation

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday adopted a statement urging the Syrian government to allow for cross-border aid to be delivered and called for pauses among fighting factions so relief convoys can travel on key routes to improve the dire humanitarian situation there.

Obama urges U.N. to back tough consequences for Syria over chemical weapons

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama urged the United Nations on Tuesday to back tough consequences for Syria if it refuses to give up chemical weapons and urged Russia and Iran to drop their backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Spanish journalist kidnapped in Syria

Barcelona, Sep 23 (EFE).- Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas, who writes for Barcelona's El Periodico, was taken captive by Syrian rebels on Sept. 4, the newspaper said Monday. Marginedas, 46, was traveling in an automobile with a driver when he was intercepted by jihadists on the outskirts of the western Syrian city of Hama and since then there has been no contact with him. The veteran war correspondent had entered Syria on Sept. 1 through Reyhanli, Turkey, accompanied by opposition members of the Free Syrian Army.

Mortar shell hits Russian embassy compound in Damascus: monitoring group

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A mortar shell landed in the compound of the Russian embassy in central Damascus on Sunday but there was no immediate report of casualties, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Rebels fighting to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad have launched several mortar and rocket attacks in recent months into the centre of the Syrian capital, where many embassies and senior Syrian officials are based.

Kerry says U.N. Security Council must act on Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday it was essential that a Russia-U.S. deal on eradicating Syria's chemical weapons arsenal be enforced and that the U.N. Security Council must act on it next week. "The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Kerry told reporters. "It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons."

Syria can eliminate chemical arms despite war: top U.S. officer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Syrian government still has effective control of its chemical weapons and should be able to transfer them to international inspectors for destruction despite the ongoing civil war, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday. Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged the conflict in Syria posed "a very challenging environment" for eliminating the weapons under a framework agreement reached by the United States and Russia.

Obama says UN report changed world opinion on Syria

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that a UN report detailing a chemical weapons attack in Syria had reshaped international opinion on the actions of Bashar al-Assad's regime. Obama said the UN report released Monday, which did not directly attribute blame, nevertheless proved everything his administration had been saying about a August 21 attack which Washington says killed 1,400 people.

Paris, London and Washington call on U.N. for "strong resolution" on Syria

Paris, Sep 16 (EFE).- France, Britain and the United States called on the U.N. Security Council Monday for a "strong resolution" on the Syrian conflict that includes "serious consequences" for Damascus if it fails to comply with the Geneva agreement. The diplomatic agreement reached in Geneva on Saturday by the United States and Russia to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons is "an important advance," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Republicans question whether Syria deal has enough teeth

By Caren Bohan and Andy Sullivan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading U.S. Republican lawmakers voiced skepticism on Sunday about whether a deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons could work without a credible threat of force pressuring the Syrian government to comply. The agreement, reached on Saturday after talks between the United States and Russia, calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to account for his chemical stockpile within a week and allow for international inspections by the middle of next year.
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