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US releases $450 mn in frozen Iran funds WASHINGTON: The United States has authorized the release of a $450 million installment in Iranian assets that were frozen as punishment for Tehran's disputed nuclear program, the State Department said Thursday.It came after a new report by the UN's nuclear watchdog found that Iran was complying with the terms of a November interim deal with world powers calling for a partial freeze to its controversial nuclear drive."Based on this confirmation and consistent with commitments the United States made under the Joint Plan of Action, the department of Treasury took the necessary steps pursuant to the JPOA to facilitate the release of a $450 million installment of Iran's frozen funds," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.Iran has cut its stock of highly enriched uranium by 75 percent, the new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed.Under the November agreement, Iran pledged to "dilute" half of its highly enriched ...

Ex-Russian Alaska 'too cold' to annex, Putin jokes MOSCOW: In a patriotic fervour, Russians are asking President Vladimir Putin to bring back the US state of Alaska, sold off to the United States in Tsarist times. Putin's answer? It's too cold.During Putin's annual marathon phone-in session Thursday, when Russians pose questions to the Russian leader, a pensioner asked him to possibly follow the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine with the taking of Alaska."Faina Ivanovna, dear, why do you need Alaska?" Putin asked the ...

115 Nigeria schoolgirls still missing after kidnap: principal LAGOS: A Nigerian school principal on Thursday denied reports from the military that most of the students kidnapped from her school by Islamists were now safe, saying that only 14 of the 129 taken had escaped. "The report from the military is not true," Asabe Kwambura told AFP, referring to an official claim that only eight of the girls were still being held. She specified that Wednesday's report from the area's Governor Kashim Shettima that ...

Putin hails Russia's relationship with China MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday relations between Russia and China have developed to an all-time high and they will play a significant role on the global political stage."It..will significantly influence the modern architecture of international relations," Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation, but added that they were "not considering the question of a military-political alliance." Copyright Reuters, 2014

Putin says Kiev's use of army against separatists a grave crime MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Ukraine's decision to send armed forces into eastern Ukraine instead of trying to establish a dialogue with the Russian-speaking population there was a "grave crime." In a televised call-in with the nation, Putin said crisis talks being held in Geneva were "very important" and urged the government in Kiev to sit down to talks with Russian-speaking communities in the east of the country. He said claims that ...

Russian FSB demanded Ukraine protest group details: VKontakte founder MOSCOW: The founder of Russia's biggest social network VKontakte (VK) said Russia's security services demanded to know the identities of people running group pages of Ukrainian pro-EU protest last year.The Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's most powerful security agency, sent a letter to VK CEO Pavel Durov on December 13, "demanding that we give out personal data of Euromaidan group moderators," Durov wrote on his VK page.Euromaidan was a loose structure of protesters who gathered ...

Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking South Korea ferry SEOUL: Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the entire nation.Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning."Sending this in case I may not be able to say this again. Mom, ...


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