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Egypt’s Sisi opens mega-mosque and Middle East’s largest cathedral in New Capital

CAIRO (Reuters) - President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurated Egypt’s largest church and mosque in the New Administrative Capital on Sunday, the eve of Coptic Christmas, in a message of tolerance in the predominantly Muslim country. A member of Egyptian Army walks outside the new Coptic Cathedral "The Nativity of Christ" before Sunday's Coptic Christmas Eve Mass in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt January 3, 2019. Picture taken January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah DalshCopts, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, were due hold a midnight mass in the Cathedral of the Nativity, billed by the government as the Middle East’s largest church,…

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Trump holds firm on border wall, offers steel option as compromise

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday pledged not to bend in his demand for a wall along the southern border with Mexico but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund the project. Trump’s comments came at the start of the third week of a partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers idled or without paychecks. Trump, a former New York businessman, said he could relate to the workers who would have trouble paying bills because of the shutdown and threatened, again, to declare a national…

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U.S. says suspected USS Cole bombing planner killed in Yemen strike

FILE PHOTO: The port side damage to the guided missile destroyer USS Cole is pictured after a bomb attack during a refueling operation in the port of Aden in this October 12, 2000 file photo. REUTERS/Aladin Abdel Naby/File PhotoWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Sunday it has killed a militant in Yemen believed to be one of the planners of a deadly bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole in 2000. Jamal al-Badawi was killed in a precision strike in Yemen’s Marib governate on Jan. 1, U.S. Central Command said on Twitter two days after saying U.S. forces had targeted Badawi in the strike. Badawi…

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Bolton says Turkey must not attack Kurdish fighters once U.S. leaves Syria

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - White House national security adviser John Bolton added a new condition on Sunday to the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying Turkey must agree to protect the United States’ Kurdish allies. President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to announce a U.S. pullout from Syria left many questions open, chiefly whether Kurdish fighters who had been operating in northern Syria alongside U.S. forces would now be attacked by their long-time enemy, Turkey. Bolton, on a trip to Israel and Turkey, said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials, including President Tayyip Erdogan, that Kurdish forces must be protected. Ahead of talks with Israeli officials, he told…

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France’s Macron reeling as tough stance against ‘yellow vests’ backfires

PARIS (Reuters) - Emmanuel Macron intended to start the new year on the offensive against the ‘yellow vest’ protesters. Instead, the French president is reeling from more violent street demonstrations. Fire is seen near a Christmas market during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo FuentesWhat began as a grassroots rebellion against diesel taxes and the high cost of living has morphed into something more perilous for Macron - an assault on his presidency and French institutions. The anti-government protesters on Saturday used a forklift truck to force their way into a government ministry compound, torched…

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Trump says acting Cabinet members give him ‘more flexibility’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he departs for Camp David from the White House in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he was in no hurry to find permanent replacements for one-quarter of his Cabinet currently serving in an acting capacity because it gives him “more flexibility.” “I am in no hurry,” Trump told reporters as he departed for Camp David, the U.S. presidential retreat, for meetings on the partial government shutdown. About one-fourth of the U.S. government has been shuttered for more than two weeks and about 800,000 government workers have been…

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Trump: Weakness in China economy gives Beijing incentive for trade deal

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he departs for Camp David from the White House in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that trade talks with China were going very well and that weakness in the Chinese economy gave Beijing a reason to work toward a deal. U.S. officials are meeting with their counterparts in Beijing this week for the first face-to-face talks since Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping in December agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled international markets. Trump imposed import tariffs on hundreds of billions…

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Southeast Asia wary of China’s Belt and Road project, skeptical of U.S.: survey

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Southeast Asian countries should be cautious in negotiating with China on its flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to avoid being trapped in unsustainable debt, 70 percent of respondents said in a policy survey released on Monday. FILE PHOTO: National flags and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) logo on display ahead of the 27th ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia HarrisSoutheast Asia is increasingly skeptical of U.S. commitment to the region as a strategic partner and a source of security, while China’s reach is seen as growing both politically and economically, the study also showed. “The conventional…

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White House signals some compromise in ending U.S. government shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House chief of staff said on Sunday that the U.S. federal government shutdown, now entering its third week, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen (obscured), U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner walk from the West Wing before a meeting with Congressional staffers about ending the partial government shutdown at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Robertscould “drag on a lot longer”. But Mick Mulvaney also raised the possibility of changing the construction materials used to build a barrier on the border with Mexico…

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Pope enters migrant ships dispute with appeal for safe ports

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged European leaders on Sunday to stop bickering over the fate of 49 migrants stuck aboard two humanitarian rescue ships on the Mediterranean and let them land at a safe port of call. Pope Francis celebrates a mass for migrants to commemorate the 5th anniversary of his visit in Lampedusa, at the Saint Peter's in Vatican July 6, 2018. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS With his comments in an address to 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square for the feast of the Epiphany, Francis jumped into a diplomatic fracas between Italy and Malta and into an internal dispute among leaders of Italy’s…

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