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Pope Francis called Sunday on warring parties in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine to put an end to violence which is wounding and killing countless children. "Stop, please stop! I beg you with all my heart," the 77-year-old Argentine pontiff pleaded before pilgrims packed in St Peter's Square for the weekly Angelus prayer.

US President Barack Obama on Sunday spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and stressed the need for an immediate and sustainable cease-fire in the raging Gaza conflict. Both the Israelis and Hamas exchanged strike and counter-strike on day 20 of the war, as world leaders pushed for an elusive cease-fire.
Egypt's army said Sunday it has destroyed 13 more tunnels connecting the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip, taking to 1,639 the overall number it has laid waste to. Cairo has poured troops into the peninsula to counter a rising insurgency since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year, and its security operation involves the destruction of these tunnels.
Islamic State jihadists, building on vast land grabs in Iraq, have seized an army position in the Syrian city of Hasakeh, a monitoring group said Sunday. On another front in Syria's complex civil war, rebels seeking President Bashar al-Assad's ouster captured a weapons depot in Hama province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Syrian army said on Sunday it recaptured a gas field east of the central city of Homs that was seized by hard-line Islamic State fighters earlier this month. Syrian television showed footage of soldiers running and deploying in a vast desert area which it said was the Sha'ar gas field. The army said in a statement it retook the field after a "precise operation in which dozens of terrorists were killed."
Western nations on Sunday warned their citizens to leave Libya, where intensifying fighting between militias was threatening to destabilise the country. "Given the deteriorating security situation, France is asking its nationals to leave Libya," the French foreign ministry said in the latest warning. Around 100 French nationals are in the north African country. Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have also called on their citizens to get out of Libya.
China will hold military exercises in south-east coastal areas beginning on Tuesday, the Ministry of Nattional Defence said on Sunday It described the drills as annual and routine in a statement on its website, saying they would test combat readiness and capability. The statement did not give details on where the exercises would be carried out.
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Annual2012/13
Foreign Debt $60.9bn
Per Cap Income $1,368
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