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As U.S. weighs Afghan strategy, hopes set on fledgling Air Force

KABUL (Reuters) – As the U.S. administration prepares its new strategy for Afghanistan, the Kabul government and its Western allies are working hard to develop an air force that gives government forces the advantage in their war against Taliban militants. The level of equipment, training and assets falls far short of matching the air assets the Americans still maintain in ...

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Russia to blame for 'hot war' in Ukraine: U.S. special envoy

KIEV (Reuters) – Russian aggression is to blame for violence in eastern Ukraine, where people are dying in what should be seen as a “hot war” rather than a “frozen conflict”, the U.S. special envoy to the Ukraine peace talks said on a visit to Ukraine on Sunday. Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, was appointed to his ...

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Merkel's Bavarian ally signals open to tie-up with Greens after Sept vote

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian ally has signaled it could back a coalition between their conservative bloc and the opposition Greens after a national election due in September. Merkel’s bloc – comprised of her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their more right-wing Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) – is expected to win the election but to ...

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Japanese PM Abe's support slides again before parliament appearance

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s support slid 10 points to 26 percent in a poll published on Sunday, a day before Abe will be grilled in parliament over a suspected scandal that is cutting his ratings to the lowest since taking office in 2012. The July 22-23 Mainichi newspaper poll also showed that 56 percent of respondents ...

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Headstrong Renzi struggles to find political touch as Italian vote nears

ROME (Reuters) – Matteo Renzi is struggling to regain the political initiative after a disastrous spell during which he lost his job as prime minister and his party fractured. His approval ratings are in slow decline, his attempts to reassert control over the ruling Democratic Party (PD) are flailing and his efforts to control the coalition government from outside parliament ...

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Iran and Iraq sign accord to boost military cooperation

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on Sunday to step up military cooperation and the fight against “terrorism and extremism”, Iranian media reported, an accord which is likely to raise concerns in Washington. Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan and his Iraqi counterpart Erfan al-Hiyali signed a memorandum of understanding which also covered border security, logistics and training, ...

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French President Macron's popularity rating drops

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity rating has slumped by 10 percentage points this month, according to an Ifop poll on Sunday – the biggest decline for a new president since 1995. The poll, published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, said 54 percent of people in France were satisfied with Macron in July, compared with 64 percent ...

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Mali confirms arrest of key jihadist near Timbuktu

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Malian and French troops have arrested a close associate of a preacher whose jihadist group has claimed dozens of attacks against Western and Malian targets, Mali’s security minister said on Sunday. Macina Liberation Front, based in central Mali’s Mopti region, is led by cleric Amadou Koufa who has called upon followers to take up arms and rebuild ...

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