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International Relations

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping is attending a pair of regional summits in Saudi Arabia amid efforts to kick-start economic growth weighed down by strict anti-COVID-19 measures. The Foreign Ministry said Wednesday Xi will attend the inaugural China-Arab States Summit and a meeting with leaders of the six nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. His state visit to Saudi Arabia will end on Saturday. China is the world’s second-largest economy, a leading consumer of oil and source of foreign investment. China imports half of its oil, and half of those imports come from Saudi Arabia. Chinese economic growth rebounded to 3.9% over a year earlier in the three months ending in September.

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The Miami Dolphins quarterback at the center of the NFL's overhaul of its concussion protocols and the Ukrainian city that's home to Europe's largest nuclear plant are among this year's list of most mispronounced words. The Captioning Group, which captions and subtitles real-time events on TV, compiled the list released Wednesday. It highlights the names and terms that were most challenging for newsreaders and people on television to pronounce. In addition to Tua Tagovailoa and Zaporizhzhia, some of the other names and words on this year's list are Grammy-winning singer Adele, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

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An audit of more than 19,000 ballots cast in Idaho’s general election has identified only six variations. The Secretary of State's office released the audit results late last week. It found that the few variations all resulted from sorting errors or faint markings on ballots, which were counted differently by the tabulation machines and the auditors. Deputy Secretary of State Jason Hancock says the findings show that Idaho's elections are well run and the results are accurate and reliable. The audit is required under a law passed earlier this year intended to increase public confidence in election results by checking paper ballots.

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Poland’s defense minister says his country will accept a Patriot missile defense system which Germany offered to Poland last month. The German offer was made after an errant missile fell in Poland near the border with Ukraine, killing two Polish men. Polish officials said they thought the Patriot system should be placed in Ukraine instead, but Germany said it could only go to a NATO member. What appeared to be Poland cold-shouldering Germany’s offer created strains in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Tuesday he was sorry Ukraine wouldn't get the system and that plans were being made to deploy it in Poland.

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Turkey’s foreign minister has again threatened to “take action” against Greece if it continues to deploy weapons on its Aegean islands which Ankara says should remain demilitarized in line with international treaties. Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments Tuesday follow reports of military exercises by Greece on the Aegean islands of Rhodes and Lesbos. Turkish officials insist the deployment of soldiers or weapons on some islands close to its coast are in violation of their nonmilitary status according to international law. Athens says it needs to defend the islands against a potential attack from Turkey. It notes that Turkey has a sizeable military force on the western Turkish coast just across form the islands.

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A former Miami congressman who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government was arrested Monday on charges of money laundering and representing a foreign government without registering. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami says Republican David Rivera was arrested in Atlanta. The eight-count indictment alleges he was part of a conspiracy to lobby on behalf of Venezuela to improve U.S.-Venezuela relations, resolve an oil company legal dispute and end U.S. economic sanctions against the South American nation — without registering as a foreign agent. A lawyer for Rivera said he had not seen the indictment and Rivera did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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A newly founded Japanese semiconductor company aiming to revive Japan’s chip industry has signed an agreement to collaborate with a Belgian research organization in developing next-generation chips for production in Japan. Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says the new company, Rapidus, which was launched last month by eight big corporations including automakers, electronics giants and chip manufacturers, is teaming up with Imec, a Belgium-based research organization known for nanoelectronics and digital technologies key to developing next-generation chips. Japan’s government is spending 70 billion yen ($510 million) to encourage domestic chip production while collaborating with the United States.

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EU leaders and their counterparts in the Western Balkans have worked to strengthen their partnership during a summit in Albania as Russia's war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in the region. The EU wanted to reassure leaders from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia that they have futures within the wealthy economic bloc, and give them concrete signs, instead of just promises, that they will join one day. Since Russia started its war in February, EU officials have been repeating that stepping up the bloc’s engagement with the sextet of nations is more crucial than ever to maintaining Europe’s security.

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News channel Al Jazeera is formally asking the International Criminal Court to investigate the fatal shooting of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting from a Palestinian refugee camp in May. Al Jazeera, which made the request Tuesday, has accused the Israeli government of specifically targeting its journalists, calling Abu Akleh’s death a war crime. The news outlet said it wants ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to include the reporter's killing in his ongoing investigation into the situation in Palestine.

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North Korea has fired a barrage of artillery rounds into waters near rival South Korea for the second consecutive day in a tit-for-tat for ongoing U.S.-South Korea live-fire drills. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff says it detected North Korea firing around 100 artillery rounds from a front-line area along its eastern coast. It said the shells, which were likely from multiple rocket launchers, landed in the northern side of a maritime buffer zone the Koreas established in 2018 to reduce border tensions. The South said it communicated verbal warnings to North Korea and urged it to abide by the military agreement. An spokesperson of the North Korean military said the firings were meant as a warning against “enemy side” artillery exercises.

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Protesters have tried to force their way into Mongolia's State Palace, incensed by allegations of corruption linked to the coal trade with China. The U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar issued an alert Monday saying that several hundred protesters gathered in the city's Sukhbaatar Square during the weekend and marched to the presidential residence. The demonstrators were demanding that the government investigate claims that 385,000 tons of coal was stolen from stockpiles on Mongolia's border with China. Foreign sales of Mongolia's vast mineral wealth, coal and other resources are a perennial source of conflict for the country, where nearly one in three people live in poverty. The pandemic has left many Mongolians struggling to make ends meet, with inflation topping 15%.

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China's Defense Ministry says the country strictly adheres to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons “at any time and under any circumstances." The pledge came in a scathing response Tuesday to a U.S. report alleging a major buildup in Beijing’s nuclear capabilities. The Pentagon last week released an annual China security report that warned Beijing would likely have 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035, and that it has provided no clarity on how it plans to use them. A ministry spokesperson says the report “distorts China’s national defense policy and military strategy, makes groundless speculation about China’s military development and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs on the issue of Taiwan.”

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Texas’ top elections official has resigned. Secretary of State John Scott said Monday he would step down after an intense year of trying to reassure election skeptics, navigating the rocky launch of new voting laws and overseeing a limited audit of the 2020 election. The Republican came under immediate scrutiny from the moment he took the job in October 2021. He was briefly part of former President Donald Trump’s legal team that challenged the results of the 2020 election. But he said upon taking the job in Texas that he did not dispute that President Joe Biden was the winner. His successor will be chosen by Abbott, who was reelected to a third term in November.

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Major Western measures to limit Russia’s oil profits over the war in Ukraine have taken effect. They bring uncertainty about how much crude could be lost to the world and whether they will unleash the hoped-for hit to a Russian economy that's held up better than many expected under sanctions. Starting Monday, the European Union is banning most Russian oil and the Group of Seven democracies has imposed a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports to other countries. The impact may be blunted because Russia has been able reroute much of its European seaborne shipments to China, India and Turkey, although at steep discounts. Plus, the price cap is near what Russian oil already cost.

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One would have to go back hundreds of years to find a monarch who reigned longer than Queen Elizabeth II. In her 70 years on the throne, she helped modernize the monarchy across decades of enormous social change, royal marriages and births, and family scandals. Her death in September was arguably the most high-profile death this year. Other world leaders who died in 2022 include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in August. Among the entertainers who died this year was groundbreaking actor Sidney Poitier, who played roles with such dignity that it helped change the way Black people are portrayed on screen.

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Spanish police say parcels containing animal eyes and addressed to Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid and consulates in Barcelona and Malaga were intercepted at offices of the national postal company. Seven European countries, including Spain, reported Friday that similar packages had arrived at their Ukrainian embassies or consulates last week. A security guard at the Ukrainian Embassy in Spain’s capital was injured Nov. 30 while opening a parcel addressed to the ambassador. Four more letters containing explosive devices were intercepted during the next 24 hours, including one sent to the U.S. Embassy. A similar package addressed to Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez was discovered a week earlier. The parcels are under investigation as acts of terrorism.

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The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has denounced a European Union proposal to create an U.N.-backed special tribunal to prosecute crimes in Ukraine. Karim Khan pushed back on Monday against the plan European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced last week to establish a special court to prosecute Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Khan says the ICC is capable of effectively dealing with war crimes committed in Ukraine, including by prosecuting high-ranking political figures. The Hague-based ICC has launched an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine but cannot prosecute the crime of invading another country. That's because Russia is not a signatory to the treaty that created the court.

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Albania’s prime minister says a European Union summit in his country’s capital this week demonstrates the EU’s heightened geostrategic interests in the Western Balkans region during Russia’s war in Ukraine. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama is set to host the Tuesday meeting aimed at rekindling the EU’s expansion process. “Nobody could imagine this only until two years ago, and now it’s happening,” Rama told Associated Press on Monday. Rama previously criticized the EU for dragging its feet on admitting new members. The six countries that are the focus on the summit - Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia - received assurances for years but saw their steps toward membership stall.

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South Sudan’s military says more than 700 personnel will travel to eastern Congo to join a new regional force in trying to calm the latest deadly insecurity there. The spokesman for South Sudan’s military tells The Associated Press the government is working to provide the 750 troops with needed equipment for the combat mission, but he said sanctions on the country are complicating that effort. Leaders of the East African Community this year resolved to deploy a regional force to eastern Congo, where dozens of armed groups are active and tensions have been rising between the governments of Congo and neighboring Rwanda.

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India's foreign minister has signaled that his country will continue to buy oil from Russia, even as Western governments press Moscow with a price cap on its oil exports. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar says it isn't right for European countries to prioritize their energy needs but ask India to do something else. India, a major buyer of Russian oil, has so far not committed to the European Union’s price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian oil. The move is aimed at limiting the fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow’s military. Jaishankar was speaking to reporters in New Delhi after holding talks with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, in which they discussed bilateral relations and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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North Korea has fired about 130 artillery rounds into the water near its western and eastern sea borders with South Korea, the latest military action contributing to worsening relations between the neighbors. North Korea’s military says the firings were a warning against ongoing South Korean artillery exercises near an inland border town and blamed the South for worsening tensions. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff says the North Korean weapons fell within the northern side of buffer zones created under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce military tensions. There were no immediate reports of shells falling inside South Korean territorial waters.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. will not shrink from its unwavering support for Israel despite stark differences with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns the Biden administration may have about members of his incoming right-wing government. Blinken said Sunday that the United States will remain a stalwart friend of Israel even as it pursues goals that Netanyahu has opposed, including a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a restoration of the languishing 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Blinken also said the Biden administration would engage with Netanyahu's government based on its policies and not on personalities. But he also warned that the U.S. would object to policies that marginalize the Palestinians.

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The OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia aren't changing their targets for shipping oil to the global economy. The decision Sunday comes amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. Starting Monday, a European Union boycott of most Russian oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports by the EU and the Group of Seven democracies take effect. On the other side, oil has been trading at lower prices on fears a slowing economy will reduce demand. OPEC said in October that's why it was a slashing production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November, which remains in effect.

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Russian authorities have rejected a price cap on the country’s oil set by Ukraine’s Western supporters and are threatening to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it. Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to cap what they would pay for Russian oil at $60-per-barrel. The limit is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday that Russia needs to analyze the situation before deciding on a specific response but that it would not accept the price ceiling. Russia’s permanent representative in Vienna warned, "From this year, Europe will live without Russian oil.”

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