December 31, 2016 / 2:01 AM / 8 months ago

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TOP STORIES

Trump praises Putin for holding back in U.S.-Russia spy dispute

PALM BEACH, Fla./ MOSCOW - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump praises Russian President Vladimir Putin for refraining from retaliation in dispute over spying and cyber attacks, in another sign that Republican plans to patch up badly frayed relations with Moscow. (USA-RUSSIA/CYBER (WRAPUP 8, PIX, TV), moved, by Richard Cowan and Polina Devitt, 870 words)

Clashes, air raids tarnish Russia and Turkey's Syria truce

BEIRUT - Clashes, shelling and air raids in western Syria mar Russian- and Turkish-backed cease-fire that aims to end nearly six years of war and lead to peace talks between rebels and government emboldened by recent battlefield success. (MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA (WRAPUP 7, PIX, TV), moved, by John Davison and Ellen Francis, 1,142 words)

- MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA-UN (UPDATE 3, PIX), moved, by David Ingram, 289 words

Merkel says Islamist terrorism is biggest test for Germany

BERLIN - Islamist terrorism is the biggest test facing Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday in a New Year's address to the nation, and she vowed to introduce laws that improve security after a deadly attack before Christmas in Berlin. (GERMANY-MERKEL/, moved, 463 words)

Taiwan announces U.S. itinerary for president, upsetting China

TAIPEI - Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit through Houston and San Francisco during January visit to allies in Latin America, her office says, prompting China to repeat call for United States to block any such stopover. (TAIWAN-USA/ (UPDATE 3, PIX, TV), moved, by J.R. Wu, 461 words)

ASIA

S.Korea court issues arrest warrant for pension chief in corruption scandal

SEOUL - A South Korean court issued an arrest warrant for the head of the national pension fund, the world's third largest, early on Saturday in a corruption scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment, an official said. (SOUTHKOREA-POLITICS/ (moved), moved, 429 words)

Modi defends bank note move as Indians line up for cash

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday defended his decision to withdraw high denomination bank notes from circulation, as a deadline to end severe cash shortages passed with Indians still queuing at banks to deposit savings and withdraw money. (INDIA-MODI/CORRUPTION (UPDATE 1, PIX), moved, by Mayank Bhardwaj, 543 words)

How ties to an "equestrian princess" landed Samsung at center of a scandal

SEOUL - Samsung Electronics Co's sponsorship of the equestrian-athlete daughter of a long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye has helped to land South Korea's top company in the center of the country's influence-peddling scandal. (SOUTHKOREA-POLITICS/SAMSUNG-EQUESTRIAN (INSIGHT, PIX), moved, by Ju-min Park and Miyoung Kim, 1207 words)

MIDDLE EAST

Britain, edging toward Trump, scolds top U.S. diplomat over Israel

LONDON - Britain scolds U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for describing Israeli government as most right-wing in Israeli history, move that aligns Prime Minister Theresa May more closely with President-elect Donald Trump. (ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS/BRITAIN (UPDATE 2, PIX,) moved, by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton, 711 words)

AMERICAS

Brazil says Greek ambassador murdered by wife's policeman lover

RIO DE JANEIRO - A Rio de Janeiro policeman confessed to murdering Greece's ambassador to Brazil in what investigators on Friday called a "cowardly act" carried out at the direction of the diplomat's Brazilian wife with whom the officer was romantically involved. (BRAZIL-GREECE/KILLING (UPDATE 6, PIX, TV), moved, by Paulo Prada, 550 words)

UNITED STATES

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member resigns rather than sing for Trump

Member of Mormon Tabernacle Choir resigns over its plan to sing at inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, and more than 22,000 people sign petition opposing choir's participation. (USA-TRUMP/INAUGURATION (PIX), moved, 428 words)

AFRICA

Congo deal reached for Kabila to step down after 2017 elections

KINSHASA - Congolese President Joseph Kabila will step down after elections to be conducted by end of 2017 under last-minute deal struck by political parties, lead mediator of talks says. (CONGO-POLITICS/ (UPDATE 3, TV), moved, by Aaron Ross, 407 words)

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