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World News: Hardline in Middle East; Can Iraq, Afghanistan Quell the Violence?;

By: ap
By: ap

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says "the Palestinian people won't kneel" and won't drop demands to establish a capital in east Jerusalem.
Speaking to several hundred Palestinian activists from Jerusalem whom he had invited to his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas warned that "there will be no peace" without a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem.
The crowd whistled, chanted and clapped on Saturday as the normally low-key Abbas struck a tough tone.
Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to forge an agreement between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the outlines of a peace deal, which also would address the fate of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians want a capital in east Jerusalem, one of the areas Israel captured in 1967. Netanyahu has previously rejected a partition. Abbas and his aides fear that Kerry's proposal, expected in the coming weeks, only will contain a vague reference to Palestinian "aspirations" in the city.

JERUSALEM (AP) -- The hospital that had been treating Ariel Sharon says the former Israeli Prime Minister has died.
Hospital spokesman Dr. Shlomo Noy said Saturday: "The Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer announces with sorrow the death of Mr. Ariel Sharon who passed about an hour ago."
He said that during the years Sharon had been treated his condition was defined as "minimal consciousness" and he had had "ups and downs."
"Today his heart weakened and he peacefully departed from his family who were always at his side with love and support."
After a distinguished, and controversial, military career, Sharon went into politics and held a number of Cabinet posts.
He was elected prime minister in 2001, and despite his hardline views, led Israel's historic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

GENEVA (AP) -- Iran's nuclear envoy in Geneva says an initial agreement has been reached on implementing a nuclear deal with six world powers and that it's been sent to capitals for approval.
Abbas Araghchi made the comments to the official IRNA news agency. He said world powers and the Iranian government should respond within two days about whether they accept the terms.
An official from a member country of the United Nations nuclear agency who is closely following the talks said a preliminary agreement was reached Friday evening. He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the closed negotiations.
While not a final deal, it maps out a first-step agreement for six months as diplomats negotiate a final deal. A November deal calls for capping Iran's uranium enrichment program in return for an easing of some international sanctions.

BAGHDAD (AP) -- An Iraqi official says fighting between security forces and al-Qaida-linked militants in Sunni-dominated Anbar province has killed at least 60 people over the past two weeks.
The head of Anbar Health Directorate, Khudeir Shalal said Saturday that 43 people were killed in the city of Ramadi and other 17 were killed in Fallujah since violence erupted in the western province after the Dec. 28 arrest of a Sunni lawmaker sought on terrorism charges and the dismantling of an anti-government Sunni protest camp in Ramadi.
Shalal said a total of 297 people were also wounded in both cities.
Iraqi security forces and allied Sunni tribesmen have been battling militants to recapture the cities, partially seized by fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan Security officials say they're confident the country's own forces will be able to provide security for the vast majority of polling stations in upcoming presidential elections.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said Saturday that a security assessment done for the election commission shows that 6,431 polling places out of 6,845 can already be guaranteed secure for the April 5 election.
The remaining 414 polling centers are in the process of being secured, Sediqqui said.
Officials say the April election will be the first for which Afghan security forces are responsible for security. Previous elections since 2004 have been secured by the U.S.-led international coalition.

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- A health official in Libya says 15 people have been killed in clashes between two tribes in the country's south.
The fighting is pitting the al-Tabw tribe against the Awlad Soliman tribe in the city of Sabha. A local leader said Saturday that the fighting was sparked by the killing of a guard of the city's military leader, a member of the Awlad Soliman tribe.
The health official confirmed the casualty figure and spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to brief journalists.
For more than two years, Libya has been held hostage by increasingly powerful militias, initially formed from the rebel brigades that fought against dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the country's 2011 civil war.

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's military chief has urged Egyptians to vote in next week's constitutional referendum, describing its passage as a step on the way to progress.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke at a military-organized function Saturday. State news agency MENA carried his comments.
More than 52 million Egyptians are to vote Tuesday and Wednesday on a heavily amended version of an Islamist-drafted charter enacted under toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The 2012 charter was one of the main reasons fueling opposition to Morsi, prompting massive protests against him. The military, under el-Sissi's command, then removed Morsi from office.
A large turnout and a strong "yes" vote would give legitimacy and a boost to the political plan endorsed by el-Sissi calling for subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a very violent start to 2014, with raging conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as continued violence in Congo, and attacks in Somalia and Kenya.
The death tolls are huge and the individual incidents gruesome. One estimate says nearly 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan in a month of warfare, while in neighboring Central African Republic combatants in Muslim-vs.-Christian battles have beheaded children.
J. Peter Pham, director of the Washington-based think tank Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, says that compared to decades past, Africa and its people are suffering from fewer conflicts today, but several recent outbreaks of violence are cause for concern. He says the conflicts also lack strong international peacekeeping.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's ex-interior minister turned opposition leader has been injured in a scuffle between police and anti-government activists in the nation's capital.
Yuri Lutsenko, a top organizer of the mass protests that have gripped Kiev for weeks, was injured in the early hours of Saturday when he tried to intervene in a confrontation between riot police and opposition activists. The clashes erupted outside a Kiev court had set long prison terms for three ultra-nationalist activists convicted of planning to blow up a statue in 2011.
Ukraine's top human rights official said 11 people were hospitalized after the clashes.
The incident is likely to further fuel anger against President Viktor Yanukovych, who has faced protests over his decision to freeze ties with the West and tilt toward Russia.
The protests on Kiev's main square, which were further fueled by a violent police crackdown on demonstrators, peaked at hundreds of thousands last month.

COLOMBIA-HELICOPTER CRASH
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombia's army says a private helicopter on a mission for the military has crashed in the country's northwest, killing all five people aboard.
Gen. Leonardo Pinto said Saturday that two soldiers, a police officer, a military priest and the aircraft's pilot died in the crash in the rural region of Anori, about 180 miles northwest of Bogota.
The craft owned by the Sociedad Aeronautica Santander SA had been missing since Thursday.
Pinto did not say what caused the crash.


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