World briefs: Russia bars U.S. journalist

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MOSCOW -- Russia has banned an American journalist from returning to Moscow, where he was working for the U.S.-financed Radio Liberty.

David Satter, an author and journalist who first worked in Moscow in 1976 as the Financial Times correspondent, arrived in September to research a new book and work as a consultant on investigative reporting for Radio Liberty, an editorially independent news organization supported by the U.S. Congress.

When he traveled to Ukraine in December to pick up a new one-year visa promised by Foreign Ministry officials, he said, he was told that the "competent organs," shorthand for the security forces, had decided he was an undesirable presence in Russia.

Turkey scandal deepens

ANKARA, Turkey --Turkish police raided offices of a government-backed Islamic charity in six provinces on Tuesday and detained at least 23 people accused of having links with al-Qaida, local media reported.

The coordinated operation against the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, prompted the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to sack the senior police official responsible for conducting the raid at the charity's Kilis headquarters.

Syrian opposition

PARIS -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Syrian opposition that support for the group could be reduced if it decides not to attend the Jan. 22 peace conference in Switzerland, Western officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Kerry has also hinted that the Obama administration might move soon to restore the flow of nonlethal assistance to the opposition coalition that was recently cut off because of concerns that some of it had been captured in Syria by an Islamist group.

Sunni leader faults U.S.

WASHINGTON -- One of Iraq's top Sunni Muslim leaders on Tuesday delivered a pointed message to Washington: The United States has a moral responsibility to help defeat Iraq's twin ills of sectarianism and terrorism because those forces were unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq repeatedly warned that it would be impossible to conquer a deadly resurgence of al-Qaida in the country's Anbar province without simultaneously pushing for a more representative government than the one led by Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite Muslim prime minister who has enraged Sunnis with sectarian rhetoric and policies.

Faceoff with vigilantes

APATZINGAN, Mexico -- Mexican soldiers and federal police faced off with vigilantes in a tense standoff Tuesday after a new government campaign to stop violence in western Michoacan state turned deadly.

At least two men were reportedly killed. The clash occurred as the government sent more troops to the so-called Tierra Caliente, where the vigilantes have been fighting the Knights Templar cartel. The government on Monday had called on the self-defense groups to disarm.

French president

PARIS -- French President Francois Hollande conceded Tuesday that he is going through "painful moments" with his companion, who was hospitalized after a magazine reported that he is secretly having an affair with a movie actress.

But the Socialist Hollande sidestepped specifics about his personal life and tried to devote his annual presidential news conference to his plan for reviving France's struggling economy.


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