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Egypt's Sisi negotiates arms deal in Russia

Egyptian army chief and likely new president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was on Thursday negotiating a $2-billion arms deal with Russia meant to replace subsiding assistance from old ally Washington. Sisi arrived in Moscow on Wednesday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy for a second round of so-called "2+2" talks with their Russian counterparts. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had made a landmark trip to Cairo in November aimed at reviving ties that had remained stagnant since Soviet times.

Americans back easing of Cuba policy

Most Americans would support an overhaul of restrictive US policy toward Cuba, says a poll released Tuesday. This is particularly the case in Florida, home to the largest community of people of Cuban-descent in the United States, according to the nationwide survey. It found 56 percent of those questioned support change, and the proportion rises to 63 percent in Florida. The study was carried out by a think tank called the Atlantic Council, which said it was surprised by the figure for Florida.

South Africa delivers Mandela commemorative stamp

South Africa issued a black-and-white commemorative stamp on Tuesday to celebrate the life and legacy of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela who died last year. The souvenir stamp, which captures a greying and smiling Mandela, was launched on the 24th anniversary of his release from nearly three decades in apartheid prisons. The portrait of the father of South African democracy was taken a few years before his death on December 5 and the stamp commemorates his "life and legacy", according to the South African Post Office.

Alberta premier apologizes for cost of Mandela trip but not repaying taxpayers

CALGARY - Alberta's premier apologized Monday for the $45,000 it cost to go to Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa, but said she is not willing to repay the money. Alison Redford says the amount caught her off guard, but the trip still falls under taxpayer-funded government business. "It certainly has come to my attention that there were some decisions made that week without the full and complete information that we could have had, which didn't even follow our normal procedure in terms of trip planning," Redford said after a school funding announcement in Calgary.

Olympics: Tikhonov grieves for father with Sochi dream

Just six months after the tragic death of Vasili Tikhonov, Russian hockey's legendary Tikhonov family has one of their own to cheer for at the Sochi Games. Viktor Tikhonov, 25, is carving out a name for himself in Russian hockey circles and when he is not representing his country in international competitions, Tikhonov stars for SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Olympics: Soviet-era icons Rodnina, Tretyak light Sochi cauldron

Soviet-era sports icons Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretyak lit Sochi Winter Olympics cauldron on Friday as the Games officially opened. Rodnina won three Olympic figure skating pairs titles as well as 10 world titles. Tretyak was a goaltender with the legendary Red Machine side of the Soviet era that romped to Olympic gold in 1972, 1976 and 1984 as well as 10 world championship crowns. dj/sjw

Olympics: Soviet-era icons Rodnina, Tretyak light Sochi cauldron

Soviet-era sports icons Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretyak lit Sochi Winter Olympics cauldron on Friday as the Games officially opened. Rodnina won three Olympic figure skating pairs titles as well as 10 world titles. Tretyak was a goaltender with the legendary Red Machine side of the Soviet era that romped to Olympic gold in 1972, 1976 and 1984 as well as 10 world championship crowns. dj/sjw

Harper announces Aga Khan to visit Canada, address Parliament later this month

OTTAWA - The Prime Minister's Office says the Aga Khan, hereditary spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims, will make an official visit to Canada later this month. The office says the Aga Khan will meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper and address Parliament during the visit. The spiritual leader is a regular visitor to Canada, with his most recent trips coming in 2008 and 2010. He was granted honorary Canadian citizenship during the 2010 visit. The Aga Khan became the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims in 1957.

At Sochi Games, Putin evokes spirit of 1980

By Timothy Heritage SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Political controversy, tight security and mega-construction projects: for Sochi 2014, read Moscow 1980. The Communist Soviet Union has collapsed and the Cold war has ended since Moscow organized the Summer Olympics 34 years ago, but there remain some striking parallels with the Winter Games opening in Sochi on Friday.

Alberta premier disappointed in $45K cost of Mandela funeral trip

OKOTOKS, Alta. - Alberta's premier says she wouldn't have attended the funeral for Nelson Mandela in South Africa if she had been aware of the final price tag. It cost taxpayers $45,000 for Alison Redford and an assistant to attend the December memorial. Redford says she is surprised and disappointed at the final number and calls it unacceptable. Redford says she doesn't make her own travel arrangements.
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