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Bethlehem: The Palestinian leadership has been under threats and pressure since its recent bid to join the international criminal court (ICC), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday.

"After the failure in the UN council, we decided to complain our tragedy to the biggest court in the world, while we received pressures and threats which are still going on," Xinhua reported citing Abbas as saying.

"But we say, we are sticking to our lands”, he added.

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Brussels: The European Commission Tuesday criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinians in reprisal for their bid to join the Hague-based International Criminal Court, ICC.

"The decision of the Israeli government to halt the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority runs counter to Israel's obligations under the Paris Protocol," said Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for the European Commission.

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United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman has refused to be drawn into the controversy surrounding the two Italian marines facing trial in India over the killing of two fishermen off the Kerala coast

The spokesman's refusal to comment Monday came amid reports that the Italian prime minister has asserted that a "direct channel" had been opened with New Delhi raising hopes of a settlement.

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Islamabad: Pakistan's National Assembly Tuesday approved the 21st Constitutional Amendment to pave the way for the establishment of military courts whose foremost aim is to deal strictly with terrorists.

A two-thirds majority voted in favour of the amendment, Geo News reported.

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Washington: Ahead of his visit to India, US Secretary of State John Kerry has made it clear that he has not issued any certificate to the Congress on the progress made by Pakistan in taking action against terror groups.

The US State Department has not made any recent notification to the Congress under the Kerry-Lugar Berman for release of American aid to Pakistan, Kerry's spokesman said.

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Washington: Amidst simmering tension between India and Pakistan after shelling across the border, the United States has said it encourages dialogue between the two South Asian neighbors.

"We certainly support dialogue between the countries. There have been some steps over the past year, that you know, where there have been more positive exchanges. Obviously, there's more work that needs to be done," US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday.

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Jerusalem: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to withhold tax money from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to the latter's bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday.

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Paris: French President Francois Hollande Monday said economic sanctions imposed on Russia over tensions of Ukrainian crisis should be lifted if Moscow would made progress in restoring stability in the region.

Speaking to the local radio France Inter, Hollande, who brokered the first ice-breaking meeting between Kiev and Moscow leaders last June, pledged to push ahead diplomatic efforts to promote dialogue and reach a lasting compromise to the crisis during the Astana gathering on Ukraine set for Jan 15, Xinhua reported.

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Riyadh: A suicide bomber killed two Saudi guards today on the border with Iraq, where Islamic State jihadists have seized a swathe of territory, the interior ministry said.

The blast in the Arar region followed a firefight between the border patrol and the assailants, one of whom was shot dead, a ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

"A border patrol in Suwayf, in the northern Arar region, came under fire by terrorist elements," the spokesman said.

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Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Monday called upon her agitating rival Khaleda Zia to shun violence and focus on rebuilding her party.

"The path you're (Khaleda) walking (on) will not usher in peace. You'll lose the people's support," Hasina said in her address, according to a bdnews24.com report.

Hasina said sitting out the polls was a "political mistake" of Khaleda. "Why should the people pay for it," she asked.

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