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Inater national news

Tripoli: A group of militiamen opened fire Friday on hundreds of protesters here, killing 13 people and wounding 113 others. The protesters were demanding the militia to leave their headquarters in the city, Xinhua reported quoting the Libyan health ministry.

Fierce clashes erupted between various militia groups in central Tripoli last week, killing two people and injuring many others. The anti-militia protesters then called for a general strike and launched a civil disobedience campaign until the armed men leave.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron visits at The Sabapathi Pillay Welfare Centre in Jaffna.

Jaffna:  Against the backdrop of alleged rights violations in the war against the LTTE, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday made a historic visit to Sri Lanka’s Northern Province and met Tamil leaders, including the newly-elected Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran.

Hours after the CHOGM opened in Colombo, Mr. Cameron flew to northern Sri Lanka becoming the first foreign leader since 1948 to do so.

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Male: Maldives President Mohamed Waheed Friday stepped down as president as the country prepared to hold the second round of the presidential election.

In a farewell speech, Waheed said one of the priorities during his tenure was to enhance the area of foreign relations, adding that the long standing non-aligned, independent foreign policy with an Islamic character was changed by the then (Nasheed) government, Xinhua reported.

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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo: Sri Lanka formally assumed the chair of the Commonwealth as heads of governments of 53 member-countries of the former British empire began their summit here Friday.

The opening ceremony of the summit, or the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) as it is called, the most important meeting of the grouping, got under way at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre, Xinhua reported.

Sri Lanka will chair the Commonwealth till the end of 2014 when it will be handed over to Mauritius.

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Gaza: Israeli warplanes struck two open lands Thursday afternoon in Gaza city and in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, hours after militants from the Palestinian enclave fired rockets into the Jewish country.

The Israeli war jets struck the two farm lands with air-to-ground missiles, Xinhua reported quoting witnesses and Hamas security officials as saying. Hospital officials in Gaza City said that no injuries have been reported.

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Washington: There is no need for Congress to add new sanctions on Iran if the US is serious about pursuing diplomatic solution to Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, US President Barack Obama said Thursday.

"My message to Congress has been that let's see if this short-term, phase-one deal can be completed to our satisfaction," Xinhua quoted Obama as saying at a press conference.

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Colombo: On the eve of the CHOGM summit, allegations of human rights abuses against Tamil civilians during the war against the LTTE Thursday dominated a press conference by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was at his combative best claiming he had "nothing to hide".

At the 30-minute press meet here this morning, Rajapaksa also sent out a message to the Tamils, especially the diaspora, that he was willing to discuss issues with them and invited them for talks.

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Catherine Ashton

Colombo: The European Union has warned that the Maldives may drift back to autocratic rule, saying it will consider “appropriate measures” if the country can’t elect a resident in a rescheduled runoff vote Saturday.

In a declaration dated Wednesday, High Representative Catherine Ashton say any further delays or attempts to influence the outcome will be considered by the E.U. as actions made to prevent Maldivians from exercising their democratic rights.

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Colombo: Britain said Wednesday that it wants to see more progress in post-war Sri Lanka, including on accountability for some of the incidents reported to have taken place during the war.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is in Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth summit, said the country must end the culture of impunity and sexual violence, Xinhua reported.

Hague is leading international efforts to stop sexual abuse of women, men and children during conflict.

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Joe Biden arrives with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin for a briefing with Senate Democratic leadership on negotiations with Iran.

Washington: US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry have requested lawmakers to delay imposing any fresh sanction on Iran and give some more time to the negotiations that the six-nation P5 plus one are having with Tehran.

"The risk is that if Congress were to unilaterally move to raise sanctions, it could break faith with those negotiations and actually stop them and break them apart," Kerry told reporters after he briefed members of the Congress at the Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.

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