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A French special forces soldier was killed and one was seriously wounded when their vehicle struck a mine while patrolling in southern Afghanistan, the Defense Ministry said Sunday. The patrol was part of a major operation to ensure security while Afghans voted in legislative elections, a ministry statement said. It did not provide the exact location of the incident on Saturday.


LONDON — Britain will keep its troops in Iraq as long as they are required and could send more soldiers if necessary, British Defense Secretary John Reid said Sunday. "Our troops will be there until such times as the conditions are met — those conditions being the Iraqis themselves having such democratic control and such security forces that they can take the lead," Reid told ITV television. Britain has some 9,000 troops in Iraq, most in the south of the country near Basra. Reid said more British troops can be deployed there if they are needed.


PARIS — A minister has questioned the automatic right to citizenship for anyone born on French territory overseas, comments that the opposition Socialist Party called "scandalous." Citizenship for anybody born on French soil is widely considered an untouchable right, despite years of debate over how to cope with growing illegal immigration. The immigration issue has previously focused on mainland France — not overseas territories which are part of France. Francois Baroin, France's minister for overseas territories, said questioning the right to citizenship for those born on French soil "should no longer be taboo."


NEW DELHI — A moderate earthquake hit India's southern Nicobar Islands on Sunday — the fifth quake in the area this month — but caused no damage or injuries, the Indian Meteorological Department said. The magnitude 5.4 temblor and was an aftershock from the Dec. 26 earthquake, which spawned the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 178,000 people in 11 countries and left nearly 50,000 more missing and mostly presumed dead.


LHOKSEUMAWE — Indonesia withdrew 800 soldiers from tsunami-battered Aceh province on Sunday after rebels handed over a quarter of their guns, moving quickly to fulfill key obligations under a peace deal to end three decades of fighting.


Iran struck a strident note Sunday on the eve of a meeting with the U.N. nuclear agency, warning that referring Tehran to the U.N. Security Council could lead it to expand work on a program that can make nuclear fuel — or weapons grade uranium. Foreign Minister spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran was not yet contemplating uranium enrichment but warned that it may change its mind if the country is hauled before the U.N.'s top decisionmaking body to answer questions about its suspect nuclear activities.

North Korea

The United Nations will end a decade of emergency food shipments to North Korea by January at the request of the impoverished nation's government, which says it has enough food coming from other sources, a U.N. official said Sunday. Richard Ragan, head of the World Food Program's office in Pyongyang, told The Associated Press the agency will focus on development projects in North Korea. Discussions are continuing with donors to find support for the shift, he said in a telephone interview while in Beijing.


MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that it was impossible for Russia to resume it Cold War rivalry with the United States. "We are not adversaries. We are partners in many areas of international activities," he said in an interview broadcast by the U.S. broadcaster Fox News. But Putin reiterated his opposition to a U.S.-European push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for consideration of sanctions over its nuclear program. He also said the United States should pull its troops out of Iraq within two years.

Saudi Arabia

RIYADH — Businesswoman Madhawi Al-Hassoun has signed up as the first woman in this ultraconservative Islamic kingdom to run in an election. Her candidacy in a local chamber of commerce board election comes after the Saudi government intervened to allow women to vote and run in the contest.