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Japan PM protests Okinawa crime to Obama, who promises cooperation
By Minami Funakoshi and Kiyoshi Takenaka ISE-SHIMA, Japan (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protested to U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday about the killing of a young woman in Okinawa which has reignited resentment of the heavy U.S. military presence on the southern Japanese island. Obama, joining Abe ahead of a Group of Seven summit, expressed regrets over the killing for which a U.S. base worker has been charged. "As Japanese prime minister, I protested sternly to President Obama over the recent incident in Okinawa," Abe told a news conference, flanked by the president ahead of a Group of Seven summit meeting starting on Thursday.
Belgian police detain four on suspicion of belonging to terrorist group
Belgian police searched houses in the city of Antwerp on Wednesday and detained four people on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group and trying to drum up recruits to fight with Islamist militants in Syria or Libya, state prosecutors said. Two were formally arrested while the other two were given a conditional release. "They are suspected of trying to recruit individuals to travel to conflict zones in Syria or Libya," a prosecutors' statement said.
Russia's Putin pardons Ukrainian pilot, sends her home in prisoner swap
By Maria Tsvetkova and Pavel Polityuk MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko arrived home to scenes of jubilation on Wednesday after her release by Russia in a prisoner swap and she promptly offered to fight again for Kiev in its conflict with pro-Russian separatists. Savchenko's handover, in return for two Russian prisoners - had been demanded by the West and was cast as a humanitarian gesture by Russian President Vladimir Putin a few weeks before the European Union decides whether to extend sanctions against Russia imposed over its support of the rebels. Savchenko, 35, barefoot - it was unclear why - and wearing a T-shirt depicting the Ukrainian coat of arms, emerged from the terminal at Kiev's Boryspil airport to cries of "hero" from a crowd of supporters, among them her sister and mother.
New Afghan Taliban leader was compromise candidate: sources
By Jibran Ahmad PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Islamic legal scholar appointed leader of the Afghan Taliban on Wednesday, was not the obvious choice when senior members of the militant movement gathered to appoint a new "emir". The "shura", or leadership council, was convened in haste after leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday, presenting the Taliban with their second succession in less than a year. Unlike a similar meeting held last July, when an important faction walked out in protest, delegates agreed on the choice of Akhundzada, said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Top Shi'ite cleric urges restraint in assault on Iraq's Falluja
By Maher Chmaytelli BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric urged government and allied Shi'ite militia forces fighting to retake Falluja from Islamic State militants to spare trapped civilians amid reports of a budding humanitarian crisis in the city. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's appeal reflected concerns that a large civilian death toll in the battle for the mainly Sunni Muslim city could kindle increased sectarian strife in Iraq. The Baghdad government has been led by Shi'ites since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, a member of the Sunni minority.
Exclusive: EU launches contingency talks for Brexit vote - sources
By Gabriela Baczynska BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union officials and diplomats launched a round of confidential discussions this week to prepare a coordinated response to a possible British vote to leave the bloc next month, EU sources told Reuters on Wednesday. Senior diplomats from founding powers Germany and France, as well as several other countries, met on Monday for talks chaired by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, several sources said. Another said the aim was not to prepare the unprecedented negotiations that will be needed to unpick 43 years of British EU membership but to coordinate what kind of first response, especially what communication strategy, would be needed in the hours and days after a Leave vote in the June 23 referendum.
Belgian police arrest four, find 'traces' of terror attack plot
Brussels (AFP) - Police found "traces" of a plot to launch a new attack in Belgium when they arrested four people suspected of recruiting jihadists for Syria and Libya, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Top Asian News 6:28 p.m. GMT
SHIMA, Japan (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he plans to use his historic visit to Hiroshima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reflect on the suffering of war and the need to take steps to prevent it. Abe said he had no plans to reciprocate Obama's gesture by paying his own visit to Pearl Harbor. Obama's opened his trip to Japan with much intrigue about his upcoming stop in the city where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb. But that first-ever visit by a sitting American president was caught up in the controversy in Japan over the recent arrest of a former Marine in connection with the murder of a Japanese woman in Okinawa.
Little-known extremist cleric chosen to lead Afghan Taliban
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A little-known extremist cleric was chosen Wednesday to be the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, just days after a U.S. drone strike killed his predecessor.
Belgian authorities detain 4 suspected IS recruiters, say they may have planned new attacks
BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian authorities detain 4 suspected IS recruiters, say they may have planned new attacks.
Car bomb kills three security force members in Turkey's mainly Kurdish region
A car bomb attack on a gendarmes station in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast killed three members of the security forces and wounded three others on Wednesday, Interior Ministry officials said. The dead included a soldier and two village guards who belong to a state-backed militia that fights Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels along with soldiers and special police units, security sources said. The PKK has waged a 31-year campaign for greater autonomy in the region.
Turkish official: Kurdish rebel car bombing kills 3
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish official says a car bombing by Kurdish rebels against a gendarmerie station near the Syrian border has killed three people.
New cloud formation discovery may lessen warming forecast
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new discovery about how clouds form may scale back some of the more dire predictions about temperature increases caused by man-made global warming.
The Latest: Bourgue inspired by Muhammad Ali at French Open
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the French Open (all times local):
UN's Ban wants to ramp up Yemen peace effort
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is proposing a plan to beef up the UN mediation in Yemen to overcome deep differences in peace talks, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Wednesday. Ban outlined his proposal in a letter to the Security Council just before UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was to report to the council's 15 members on the peace talks he is leading in Kuwait. "While both sides have committed to reaching agreements in Kuwait, there remain deep differences between the two sides which will need to be overcome in order to achieve a successful outcome," Ban wrote.
US probes e-commerce giant Alibaba's accounting practices
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba says U.S. regulators are investigating its accounting practices.
UN ends sanctions on Liberia
The last remaining United Nations sanctions on Liberia were lifted on Wednesday in a decision the United States called a tangible sign of progress in the West African country. The UN Security Council voted unanimously to lift an arms embargo on non-state groups that was imposed 13 years ago to support a peace deal that ended a devastating war. It was the last punitive measure in force from a sweeping series of sanctions that had included travel bans, assets freezes and a ban on lumber and diamond exports.
Puerto Rico clears first hurdle with committee vote
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan deal to help Puerto Rico manage its crippling finances cleared its first hurdle Wednesday with approval from a Republican-led House committee.
Rosberg ignores possibility of history ahead of Monaco Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg stuck to the professional sportsman's most stubbornly-used credo on Wednesday, when he denied he was even thinking about equalling any records ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. The championship-leading German, who holds a 34-point advantage in the drivers' title race, has won the last three Monaco races and has a chance to do something on Sunday only previously achieved by Ayrton Senna. The great Brazilian won five in a row from 1989 -- and six in all â and Rosberg, with a fourth consecutive win, would pull clear of Frenchman Alain Prost and Briton Damon Hill if he is successful.
Colombians rally to demand missing journalists' safe return
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Dozens of people have gathered in Colombia's capital to demand the safe return of three journalists believed to be held by leftist rebels.
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Current Forecast for Leesburg
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
W at 9 mph