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FRANCE: Avalanche kills nine climbers

Nine climbers were swept to their deaths Thursday as a slab of ice was snapped off by a climber, apparently accidentally, triggering an avalanche on Mont Blanc. A dozen others were injured. Several other climbers managed to turn away in time, authorities in Haute-Savoie said. Two were rescued as emergency crews using dogs and helicopters scoured the area in a frantic search. Three Britons, three Germans, two Spaniards and a Swiss were among the dead. Early summer storms left behind heavy snow that combined with high winds to form dangerous overhanging conditions and climbers had been warned to be careful. The dead included Roger Payne, former head of the British Mountaineering Council, and clients he was leading up the Trois Monts route to the 15,782-foot summit, the group's website said.


AFGHANISTAN: Envoy sees hope for Taliban talks

Moderate Taliban figures have expressed interest in the fragile peace process, the outgoing U.S. ambassador said Thursday, referring to a deal that appears even more elusive with this summer's rash of suicide attacks and bombings. Ryan Crocker also said he thinks it's unlikely that the departure of most foreign troops by 2014 would plunge the country into another civil war or prompt a precipitous economic slide. Crocker told The Associated Press in an interview at the embassy in Kabul that minority ethnic political leaders seem more interested in positioning themselves in the next Afghan administration than in bracing for a civil war.


MYANMAR: UN can't help in ethnic clash

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees rejected a suggestion by President Thein Sein that the UN resettle or take care of ethnic Rohingyas from Bangladesh. UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday it was not his agency's job to resettle the Rohingya, who live in western Myanmar but without citizenship. Clashes last month between Buddhist Rakhines and Muslim Rohingya left at least 78 people dead.

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