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India's Muslims make emotional return to riot-hit homes to vote

Seven months after fleeing deadly religious riots, mother-of-five Shaina Khatoon and hundreds of other impoverished Muslims made an emotional return to their home villages Thursday to vote in India's election. After driving for an hour in the back of a truck from a refugee camp, Khatoon, 28, arrived at her village under police escort and went straight to the house she was forced to flee when violence erupted. "This is where I used to live with my family," Khatoon said as she stepped inside her home, now bare except for a few bricks and clothes.

Russia cannot afford 'collapsing state' in its backyard

Europe issued fresh calls Saturday for dialogue with Russia over Ukraine, warning Moscow it faces having a failed state in its backyard just as it tightens the economic noose on Kiev. Russia needs to understand it is not in its interest "to have a collapsing state in its neighbourhood", German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at the close of two-day talks with his 27 European Union counterparts.

Influential cleric says to resume Friday sermons amid Gulf rift

DOHA (Reuters) - An influential Qatar-based Islamist whose fiery sermons strained ties between Doha and its neighbours said on Wednesday he would resume preaching after a gap of several weeks, dismissing a suggestion he had been silent due to the diplomatic tensions. "Stopping the sermons is for personal reasons. It has nothing to do with the current situation," Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric critical of the authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told Reuters.

Changes at US embassy in Delhi offer chance to rebuild ties

The sudden resignation of the US ambassador to India less than two years into her troubled term opens an opportunity for both sides to reboot strained ties ahead of an expected change in government, analysts say. Nancy Powell, US ambassador since 2012, had a torrid time at the helm of one of Washington's most important diplomatic missions as it became embroiled in one of the most serious downturns in relations in decades.

U.S. ambassador to India resigns after diplomatic row

By Frank Jack Daniel and David Brunnstrom NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to India has resigned following a row over the arrest of a junior Indian diplomat in New York that pushed relations between the world's biggest democracies to their lowest ebb in more than a decade. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf denied on Monday that Nancy Powell's resignation was related to ongoing tensions after the December arrest and subsequent strip search of the Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade.

U.S. ambassador to India resigns after diplomatic row

By Frank Jack Daniel and David Brunnstrom NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to India has resigned following a row over the arrest of a junior Indian diplomat in New York that pushed relations between the world's biggest democracies to their lowest ebb in more than a decade. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf denied on Monday that Nancy Powell's resignation was related to ongoing tensions after the December arrest and subsequent strip search of the Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade.

India set to challenge U.S. for election-spending record

By Sruthi Gottipati and Rajesh Kumar Singh NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian politicians are expected to spend around $5 billion on campaigning for elections next month - a sum second only to the most expensive U.S. presidential campaign of all time - in a splurge that could give India's floundering economy a temporary boost.

U.S. State Department official to make delayed trip to India next week

By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior official of the U.S. State Department will travel to India next week, a visit originally scheduled for January that was postponed due to a dispute over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York. Nisha Biswal, the U.S. assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, will visit Bangalore and New Delhi from March 4-6, the State Department said. It will be her first trip to India since taking up her position last year.

UN urges prompt Guinea-Bissau elections

The UN Security Council urged Guinea-Bissau's transitional government Wednesday to abide by announced election plans, warning of sanctions against those opposing a return to constitutional order. After several delays, Bissau announced April 13 presidential and parliamentary elections to end a period of political instability that began with a coup two years ago. The vote was originally due to take place within a year of the overthrow of prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior's regime, but it has been postponed several times.

In U-turn, US to meet India's Modi

The US ambassador to India plans to meet opposition candidate for prime minister Narendra Modi, an official said Monday, signaling a turnaround after years of shunning him over anti-Muslim riots. Ambassador Nancy Powell's meeting with the Hindu nationalist leader would put the United States in line with European nations which have already ended a boycott of Modi amid growing indications that he will take the helm of the world's largest democracy later this year. A State Department official confirmed the appointment between Modi and Powell, without specifying a date.
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