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EGYPT: Nervous Christmas for Copts

Egypt's pope urged his congregants to be joyful and "not be afraid" in his Mass for Coptic Christmas, trying to reassure a community feeling anxious about the rise of Islamists. Pope Tawadros II also prayed for peace and stability for Egypt when he led his first Christmas Midnight Mass late Sunday night. He asked God to guide President Mohammed Morsi and his government to lead "wisely." His prayers reflected the concerns of the Coptic Christians, who are about 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people. Many are feeling unsettled under the first Islamist president and a new constitution that could open the way for stricter Islamic law.

Talks between the government and the rebels are to begin no later than Friday, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Republic of Congo announced. Delegations were expected to travel to Gabon Monday. Nguesso met with embattled leader François Bozizé amid reports the rebels seek his ouster as a condition of the talks.

NORTH KOREA: Kim personality cult grows

Kim Jong Un is portrayed in official state media as a leader without comparison, blessed with a supreme bloodline, as he prepared for his birthday on Tuesday, thought to be his 30th. The absence of his two brothers is seen as integral to the personality cult that emphasizes Kim's unique suitability to run the nuclear-armed nation.

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