February 20, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 4 months ago

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TOP STORIES

Syrian pro-government forces enter Afrin to fight Turkey

ANKARA/BEIRUT - Pro-Syrian government forces enter Syria’s northwest Afrin region to help a Kurdish militia there fend off a Turkish assault, raising the prospect of a wider escalation. (MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA-AFRIN (UPDATE 2), PIX, TV), expect by 1630 GMT/11.30 AM ET, by Gulsen Solaker and Ellen Francis, 800 words)

+ See also:

- MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA-GHOUTA (UPDATE 1), moved, 395 words

- MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA-UNICEF, moved, 195 words

300 protesters arrested in Tehran, five security forces dead in clashes

LONDON - Five security forces were killed in Tehran on Monday night in clashes with members of a Muslim religious order and around 300 protesters were arrested, Iran’s police spokesman says. (IRAN-PROTESTS/SUFIS (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 495 words)

Britain urges EU to work jointly on Brexit deal, won’t undercut rivals

VIENNA - Brexit minister David Davis says Britain and the European Union could reach a deal to access each others’ markets and dismisses fears Britain would use Brexit to cut regulation to attract global businesses, despite past threats to do so. (BRITAIN-EU/DAVIS (UPDATE 3, PIX, TV), moved, by Francois Murphy, 501 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-EU/FARMING, moving shortly, by Nigel Hunt, 369 words)

Trump backs effort to improve gun background checks -White House

PALM BEACH, Fla. - The White House says President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, a few days after a shooting attack at a Florida school by a former student killed 17 people. (USA-TRUMP/SHOOTING (UPDATE 3, PIX), moved, by Jeff Mason, 612 words)

EUROPE

Merkel’s future in Social Democrat hands as party vote starts

BERLIN - Members of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) start voting on whether to enter a new coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, a postal ballot which could scuttle the chancellor’s chances of a fourth term in office. (GERMANY-POLITICS/ (UPDATE 1, PIX, TV), moved, by Madeline Chambers, 623 words)

Rising poverty gnaws at Italian social fabric as election nears

HERCULANEUM, Italy - Roberto Biondi’s 89-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s, is housebound and no longer recognises her son. She is also the family’s main breadwinner. Her state pension of 800 euros ($990) a month covers her own living expenses and those of Roberto and her grandson, both of whom are unemployed and have little hope of finding jobs in Italy’s underdeveloped south. (ITALY-ELECTION/POVERTY (INSIGHT, PIX, TV, GRAPHIC), moved, by Crispian Balmer, 1,305 words)

+ See also:

- ITALY-ELECTION/BERLUSCONI (PIX), moved, by Isla Binnie, 1,034 words

Corbyn warns bankers: finance will serve Britain under Labour

LONDON - Britain’s financial sector will be “the servant of industry not the masters of all” if the opposition Labour Party gets into power, its leader Jeremy Corbyn says, accusing bankers of taking the economy hostage. (BRITAIN-POLITICS/CORBYN (UPDATE 2, PIX), moved, by Elizabeth Piper and William Schomberg, 439 words)

EU scraps border projects as “Ukraine fatigue” grows

KIEV - The European Union is shutting down a border checkpoint scheme with Ukraine, deepening doubts about Kiev’s ability to deliver reforms in return for billions in European aid. (UKRAINE-EU/GRANTS (EXCLUSIVE, PIX, GRAPHIC), moved, by Olena Vasina, 1,180 words)

MIDDLE EAST

Netanyahu confidants named as suspects in new corruption probes

JERUSALEM - Corruption scandals swirling around Benjamin Netanyahu took a new twist on Tuesday with police alleging that a close associate sought to bribe a judge to stop a fraud case against the Israeli prime minister’s wife. (BEZEQ-INVESTIGATION/ARRESTS (UPDATE 3, PIX), by Jeffrey Heller and Tova Cohen, 627 words)

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

LONDON - The first rescue team reaches the wreckage of an Iranian plane that crashed with 65 people on board on Sunday, saying that all passengers and crew died and most of the bodies are deeply buried under snow. (IRAN-AIRPLANE/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, 461 words)

Egypt puts prominent politician critical of Sisi on terrorism list

CAIRO - An Egyptian court puts former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh on a terrorism list, the state news agency MENA reports, after his arrest for alleged contacts with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. (EGYPT-POLITICS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 441 words)

Relax and invest, Saudi prince tells investors after corruption crackdown

RIYADH/DUBAI - Three months after Saudi Arabia detained scores of people in a crackdown on corruption, its rulers are trying to reassure investors that the kingdom remains open for business. (SAUDI-ARRESTS/BUSINESS (PIX, GRAPHIC), moved, by Stephen Kalin, Marwa Rashad and Tom Arnold, 985 words)

AFRICA

South Africa’s Ramaphosa to screen officials’ lifestyles as he picks government

CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa, acting on a pledge to fight corruption, says he plans to screen the lifestyles of future government officials as he mulls the make-up of a new cabinet. (SAFRICA-POLITICS/ (UPDATE 3, PIX, TV), moved, by Wendell Roelf, 458 words)

+ See also:

- SAFRICA-ECONOMY/BUDGET (INTERVIEW), moved, by Mfuneko Toyana, 526 words

UN warns of extraordinary humanitarian disaster in southeast Congo

GENEVA - An upsurge of violence in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo is set to cause a “humanitarian disaster of extraordinary proportions”, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR warns. (CONGO-VIOLENCE/ (TV), moved, by Tom Miles, 397 words)

ASIA

Bangladesh, Myanmar officials visit Rohingya trapped at border

DHAKA/YANGON - Myanmar and Bangladeshi envoys hold talks about 5,300 Rohingya Muslims trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between their two countries and also visit the area, officials and Rohingya refugees say (MYANMAR-ROHINGYA/BANGLADESH, moved, by Serajul Quadir and Simon Lewis, 430 words)

S.Korea to announce joint military drill plan with U.S. before April

SEOUL - South Korea and the United States will announce plans before April to hold a postponed joint military drill, South Korea’s defence minister says. (NORTHKOREA-MISSILES/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Christine Kim and Hyonhee Shin, 570 words)

Australian deputy PM loses support of state branch amid sex scandal

SYDNEY - A state branch of the Australian National Party has pulled its support for Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce because of his extramarital affair, its leader says, opening a new rift in the ruling coalition. (AUSTRALIA-POLITICS/JOYCE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Byron Kaye, 500 words)

Indian jeweller denies involvement in huge bank fraud-lawyer

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI - Indian billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, one of the prime accused in the country’s largest ever bank fraud, denies allegations levelled against him by Punjab National Bank (PNB), his lawyer says. (PUNJAB NATL BANK-FRAUD/ (UPDATE 3, PIX, GRAPHIC), moved, by Aditya Kalra and Devidutta Tripathy, 798 words)

UNITED STATES

Trump endorses Romney in run for U.S. Senate seat in Utah

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump endorses former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s run for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah, despite Romney often being critical of Trump. (TRUMP-ROMNEY/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by David Shepardson, 394 words)

AMERICAS

Ex-Caracas mayor says opposition to shun Venezuela elections

GENEVA - The opposition will not field a candidate in Venezuela’s April 22 presidential election, the exiled mayor of Caracas says, calling the vote a “trap” set by President Nicolas Maduro. (VENEZUELA-POLITICS/LEDEZMA (INTERVIEW, TV, PIX), moved, by Stephanie Nebehay, 442 words)

Haiti says it will review charities after Oxfam ‘hid crimes’

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Oxfam hid information about sexual misconduct from authorities in Haiti, a senior official says, and he vows to launch a wide-reaching investigation into charities operating there. (BRITAIN-OXFAM/HAITI (PIX, TV), moved, by Joseph Guyler Delva, 400 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-OXFAM/ (UPDATE 1, TV), moved, by Alistair Smout, 404 words

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