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Thai court accepts case against former PM

Bangkok : A Thai court on Thursday accepted a criminal case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for alleged malfeasance in a controversial rice-pledging scheme.

The case was accepted by Thailand's Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office, Xinhua news agency reported.

The first hearing is scheduled for May 19, a court statement said.

The case was filed by the office of the attorney-general, and if found guilty, Yingluck could face a maximum jail term of 10 years.

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Singapore ex-PM Lee's condition critical

Singapore : Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill in the intensive care unit (ICU), the prime minister's office (PMO) said on Thursday.

Lee (91) was the first prime minister of Singapore from 1965 to 1990, heading the island-country for 35 years.

One of the most influential political figures in Asia, he is widely recognised as the founding father of modern-day Singapore.

Lee has been hospitalised in the Singapore General Hospital since February 5, when he was admitted for severe pneumonia, the Straits Times reported.

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Latest round of Iran n-talks ends in Switzerland

Geneva: Iran and the US have wrapped up the latest round of marathon talks in Switzerland to ink a comprehensive nuclear deal before the March 31 deadline.

On Wednesday night, two separate meetings were held in the lakeside city of Lausanne; one between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his US counterpart John Kerry, and the European Union deputy foreign policy chief, Helga Schmid, and another between Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Press TV reported.

US blasts Israeli PM over campaign comments after election win

Washington: The White House has slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his campaign comments about Arab-Israeli voters after his win in parliamentary elections.

The US is "deeply concerned about rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

"It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the US and Israel together."

US mass surveillance becomes routine: Snowden

Berlin: Mass surveillance of US intelligence agencies has become routine, said American whistleblower Edward Snowden while addressing the CeBIT.

"Extensive monitoring has become routine," said Snowden on Wednesday while taking a video interview at the annual IT trade fair taking place in Germany.

"Thus, the activities of the NSA have become invisible. Even in the White House," he added.

The whistleblower further said that surveillance was not confined to the US.

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UN chief slams deadly attack on Bardo Museum in Tunisia

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned "in the strongest terms" an attack on the Bardo Museum in central Tunis, capital of Tunisia, which reportedly left at least 19 people killed, including 17 European tourists.

The secretary-general on Wednesday "deplores the loss of life," said a statement issued by Ban's spokesman. "He conveys his deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this deplorable act, " Xinhua repored.

Sri Lankan ruling party confident against ex-president

Colombo : Sri Lanka's ruling United National Party (UNP) on Wednesday expressed confidence that former president Mahinda Rajapakse will not be able to make a comeback to politics.

UNP legislator and Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Perera said even President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the leader of the political party of which Rajapakse is a member, would ensure that he was not given a place at the elections, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Obama will work with whoever wins Israeli elections: White House

Washington : Hours after the first exit polls showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party set to retain the leadership, US President Barack Obama indicated he would work with any future Israeli premier.

Obama "remains committed to working very closely with the winner of the ongoing elections to cement and further deepen the strong relationship between the Us and Israel, and the president is confident that he can do that with whomever the Israeli people choose," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday, according to Times of Israile.

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Isriel elections: Dramatic turn as Netanyahu opens up lead

Tel Aviv: The Israeli elections took a dramatic turn in the early morning hours on Wednesday as official tallies from nearly all precincts indicate that Likud has opened up a significant lead over Zionist Union, a far cry from the virtual dead heat that television exit polls had reported Tuesday evening.

With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud holds a major edge over Zionist Union in the distribution of Knesset seats, Jerusalem Post reported.

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Syria downs US drone over coastal city

Damascus: The Syrian air defence system downed a US drone over the country's coastal city of Latakia, the state-run al-Ekhbaria TV reported.

The TV footage on Tuesday evening purportedly showed the plane wreckage and a number of Syrian soldiers checking it, Xinhua reported.

The authorities are working to find the source of the drone and the party sending it, the report quoted Salim Harba, an ex-military officer, as saying, adding that the drone was outfitted with weapons.

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