World briefs: More NATO aid requested

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WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a forceful case Friday for European members of NATO to increase their military spending, calling Russia's intervention in Ukraine a "clarifying moment" for the alliance.

Mr. Hagel's comments in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center referred to Russia's recent annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and efforts by pro-Russian forces since then to take control of more of the country and came as violence intensified between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine.

NATO's Eastern European members have said they are increasingly nervous about Russia's actions in Ukraine and the alliance's ability to counter them.

America's military spending is three times the combined military spending of the other 27 NATO members, Mr. Hagel said.

48 hours to talk to Adams

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Northern Ireland police were granted an extra 48 hours Friday to interrogate Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams about the 1972 IRA killing of a Belfast widow, infuriating his Irish nationalist party and raising questions about the stability of the province's Catholic-Protestant government.

Had the request been refused, authorities would have been required to charge Mr. Adams or free him Friday night, two days after his arrest in the abduction, slaying and secret burial of Jean McConville, a mother of 10.

Cease-fire in Homs

HOMS, Syria -- Isolated and battered after months of bombardment and blockades, Syrian rebels agreed Friday to a cease-fire that would allow hundreds of fighters to evacuate their last bastions in Homs, handing over to President Bashar Assad's forces a strategic but largely destroyed city once hailed as the capital of the revolution.

The deal reached on Homs, Syria's third-largest city, follows military gains by the regime around the capital, Damascus, and in the country's vital center.

"It will certainly mark a new chapter for the regime, a chapter where it's regaining control of the country," said Ayham Kamel, analyst with the Eurasia group in London.

Talks set in South Sudan

JUBA, South Sudan -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir agreed Friday to attend peace talks with his rival in a political and military conflict that has killed thousands and threatened the future of the world's newest nation, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

Mr. Kiir agreed to meet as soon as next week with rebel leader Riek Machar, Mr. Kerry said after a meeting at Mr. Kiir's office that ended with a friendly handshake.

Mr. Kiir also pledged to end fighting under terms of a four-month-old cease-fire that never took hold, Mr. Kerry said, and accepted in principle that South Sudan should institute a transitional government to bridge the current political gulf and hold new elections.

Campaign funds seized

LUDHIANA, India -- In the past two months, authorities have seized $45 million in suspected illegal campaign funds, discovering suspicious bundles of rupees in hearses and ambulances, in lunch boxes and in bags stashed on buses.

For decades, India's political candidates have plied voters with alcohol, cash and gifts. But in this year's hotly contested national election -- expected to be the most expensive in the country's history -- the government is fighting back in an unprecedented effort to detect campaign-finance violations.

The country's election commission says the teams have seized 31 percent more dirty cash this year than during the last election five years ago, when there was not such a coordinated effort.


-- Compiled from news services


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