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Israel lifts restrictions on building more homes in East Jerusalem

By Ori Lewis JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told senior ministers he is lifting restrictions on settlement building in East Jerusalem, a statement said on Sunday, immediately after the city's municipal government approved permits for the building of hundreds of new homes in the area. "There is no longer a need to coordinate construction in the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. "My vision is to enact sovereignty over all the settlements," the statement also said, pointing to Netanyahu's apparent bid to win greater support from settlers and appeal to a right-wing coalition partner.

Netanyahu says Trump invites him to Washington in February

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump had invited him to a meeting in Washington in February. In Washington, Trump, who took office on Friday, said his phone call with Netanyahu had been "very nice." He was asked about the call by reporters after delivering remarks at a ceremony swearing in his top advisers at the White House. The statement from Netanyahu's office said "the Prime Minister expressed his desire to work closely with President Trump to forge a common vision to advance peace and security in the region, with no gaps between the United States and Israel." It said the two discussed the nuclear deal with Iran, the peace process with the Palestinians and other issues.

Syria's warring sides gather for new attempt to break deadlock

By Olzhas Auyezov and Denis Dyomkin ASTANA (Reuters) - Syria's warring sides meet in Kazakhstan's capital on Monday with Russia, Turkey and Iran, sponsors of the talks, trying to make progress towards a goal others have repeatedly failed to reach: an end to the six-year-old conflict. The talks are the first time the opposition and representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have come together since United Nations-brokered negotiations in Geneva were suspended early last year. Organizers played down expectations of a breakthrough in the capital, Astana.

China's Xi to head new commission for military-civilian development

Chinese President Xi Jinping will head a new commission overseeing joint military and civilian development, state media said, as the country continues with an ambitious military modernization program. Xi has set great store on China's military modernization, including developing an ocean-going "blue water" navy, stealth jets and other advanced technologies to better defend the country's growing global interests. The announcement of the new commission was made late on Sunday in a short statement released by the official Xinhua news agency following a meeting of the party's Politburo, one of its elite ruling bodies.

Residents evacuated, airport closed and power cut off in Tahiti flooding

Heavy flooding in French Polynesia has forced many residents to evacuate, cut off power to thousands of homes, and closed Tahiti's international airport. The French Polynesia High Commission said three people were injured, one seriously, while more than 100 homes were destroyed. The floods were most severe on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea.

Rare shooting by Chinese official acting out of revenge say police

A rare shooting rampage in China's southwest Sichuan province was carried out by a revengeful and panicked official who was under investigation, state media said. An investigation into the incident found "sufficient evidence to conclude that Chen became hateful of an investigation against him and panicked," Sichuan provincial police said in a statement, according to the official Xinhua news agency late on Sunday. A bribery case in October 2016 implicated Chen on charges of receiving expensive gifts and he was also under investigation under suspicion of "severe violations of law and Party discipline", Xinhua said, using a common euphemism for corruption.

Mexico identifies 56 sets of human remains in mass grave

MEXICO CITY (AP) ? Prosecutors said Sunday that 56 sets of human remains have been identified in a jumble of bone fragments found at a burial pit in Mexico's northern border state of Nuevo Leon.

Equatorial Guinea stays silent on Jammeh's presence

Officials in Equatorial Guinea refused to comment on Sunday on whether ousted former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh had arrived in the country. The strongman's departure ended six weeks of political turmoil sparked by Jammeh's refusal to accept his election defeat to new Gambian President Adama Barrow. Following a short stopover in Conakry, the Guinean capital, Jammeh was due to head to Equatorial Guinea, a top Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military official said.

North Korea nuclear threat means South must not delay anti-missile system

By Jack Kim and Christine Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn said on Monday the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system can not be delayed in the face of a growing North Korean nuclear missile threat and despite Chinese hostility to the move. South Korea and the United States say the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is designed to protect against North Korea's nuclear and ballistic capabilities.

Exiled strongman Jammeh 'plundered' Gambia coffers

Gambia's exiled strongman Yahya Jammeh plundered millions of dollars in his final weeks in power leaving state coffers "empty", an aide to new President Adama Barrow said as West African troops prepared to secure his arrival. Jammeh flew out of The Gambia on Saturday, ending 22 years at the helm of the small west African nation, and headed for Equatorial Guinea where he is expected to settle with his family. A West African military force entered The Gambia Sunday -- greeted by cheers from relieved residents -- to provide security and allow Barrow, who has been in neighbouring Senegal for more than a week, to return and take power.

Trump invites Israel's Netanyahu to February talks

US President Donald Trump discussed Iran with Benjamin Netanyahu and invited the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House early next month. The two leaders spoke by telephone and "agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran," the White House said in a statement, signalling the new administration's tougher line on Tehran. Israel approved hundreds of new settler homes in east Jerusalem Sunday hours before the telephone call, which an Israeli statement described as "very warm".

Severe storms in U.S. South kill at least 18

By Letitia Stein TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A dangerous weekend weather system has killed at least 18 people in the U.S. South, as Georgia officials on Sunday reported more than a dozen deaths after severe thunderstorms and tornadoes buffeted several states. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency for seven counties in the south-central part of the state, warning that dangerous conditions persisted and could reach north to the Atlanta area. Seven deaths occurred in Cook County, Georgia, state emergency managers said in a statement, with local reports that a mobile home park was particularly hard hit.

The Latest: Serena Williams through to Australian Open QFs

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) ? The Latest on Monday from the Australian Open (all times local):

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