In brief: Face-to-face meeting between Syrian warring factions lasts 30 minutes
The first face-to-face meeting between Syria's government and the opposition hoping to overthrow president Bashar Assad began and ended after barely 30 minutes yesterday.
The two sides faced each other silently as a UN mediator laid the groundwork for talks intended to lead Syria out of civil war. Diplomats have said even getting them to the same table was an accomplishment three years into the uprising that has left 130,000 people dead.
THREE DEAD IN SKATE SHOP SHOOTING
US police are trying to determine the identity of a gunman who killed two employees – a man and a woman, both in their 20s – of a store at a Maryland shopping centre.
The gunman also died in the attack which took place at a skateboard shop called Zumiez on the upper level of the mall in Columbia, Maryland, yesterday morning.
UNDERSEA EARTHQUAKE ROCKS JAVA
A strong 6.1-magnitude undersea earthquake rocked parts of Indonesia's main island of Java yesterday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
LEADER'S STERILISATION PROBE DROPPED
Peruvian prosecutors say they have dropped a criminal investigation against former president Alberto Fujimori and health ministers who served under him during a mass sterilisation programme in the 1990s, when thousands of indigenous Indian women say they were forcibly sterilised.
However, prosecutors said no crime against humanity had been committed.
GREECE ACCUSED OVER MIGRANT DEATHS
Three Afghans who survived the sinking of a migrant boat have said Greek authorities tried to forcibly tow them back to Turkey. They said that the attempt caused their boat to flood and that the coast guard did nothing to help those, mostly women and children, who had fallen into the sea. Some survivors say they lost relatives in the incident, in which 12 are presumed to have perished.
CAR BOMBS KILL 17 IN IRAQI VIOLENCE
AT least 17 people were killed in violence across Iraq yesterday, including by car bombs and a mortar attack on a Shi'ite village. Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years in 2013, when nearly 9,000 people were killed.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Sunni Islamist militants, some linked to al-Qaeda, have been regaining momentum in Iraq, emboldened by the conflict in neighbouring Syria, where they are also active.
PHILIPPINE DEAL TO END CONFLICT
THE Philippines government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group completed talks yesterday on a deal to end four decades of fighting that has killed tens of thousands of people.
The accord between Filipino negotiators and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front calls for Muslim self-rule in parts of the southern Philippines.
RUSSIAN MILITANT GROUP WARNS PUTIN
A militant group that claimed responsibility for last month's suicide bombings in Volgograd which killed at least 34 people told Russians yesterday to rebel against President Vladimir Putin or face further attacks.
The warning, which came two weeks before the Winter Olympics in Russia's southern city of Sochi, does not mention the Games. But the group – identifying itself as Vilayat Dagestan from the northern Caucasus region – last week warned Mr Putin to expect a "present" at the event.