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(Reuters) - A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, then detained after her conviction was quashed, was due to return to the United States on Thursday, according to a family member. Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was scheduled to arrive in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday evening, her brother-in-law Gabriel Wani said in a phone interview. Since leaving Sudan after her sentence and detention triggered international outrage, Ibrahim has been in Rome, where she met with Pope Francis along with her husband and two children.
KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukraine said on Thursday it had suspended offensive operations in its military campaign in east Ukraine to help international experts reach the downed Malaysian airliner's crash site but separatists were continuing to attack its positions. Kiev said on the Facebook website of what it calls its "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO) against pro-Russian rebels in the east that it was heeding calls by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stop fighting near the plane crash site. "But mercenary fighters of the Russian terrorists are not respecting any international agreements and requests." The rebels have accused Kiev of blocking access to the Malaysian MH17 flight crash site by fighting in the area. "Ukraine continued to violate the ceasefire in the MH17 crash area, not allowing OSCE observers and experts from the Netherlands and Australia to enter the area," said Sergei Kavtaradze, an aide to top rebel leader Aleksander Borodai.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared Israel a "terrorist state" because of its ongoing air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip. The Latin American country also renounced its visa exemption agreement with Israel. Morales condemned the agreement for being "signed under a dictatorial regime" and categorised Israel as a "group 3" country. "In other words we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," he said, speaking on the visa decision.
By Sudip Kar-Gupta (Reuters) - Britain's top equity index fell on Thursday as Lloyds Banking Group pulled down financial stocks, and concerns about the impact on Europe of new sanctions on Russia also made traders wary. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed down by 0.6 percent, or 43.33 points, at 6,730.11 points. Shares in Lloyds, which had risen for the last seven sessions, fell 2.8 percent and weighed on other financial stocks, with the FTSE 350 Banking Index dropping 1.3 percent. Traders and analysts said that while Lloyds' overall interim results were good, with the part-nationalised bank reporting a 32 percent jump in first-half profits, some of the gloss had been taken off by a rise in bad debts.
By Michael Roddy VERBIER Switzerland (Reuters) - There are thousands of music festivals around Europe every summer, but only one lays claim to being held at the highest altitude and that's the one in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, sometimes called the Davos of the music world. Argentine-born piano star Martha Argerich is a regular, and this year the big names have included Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin, British cellist Steven Isserlis and American violinist Joshua Bell. The three-week-long Verbier Festival, which runs from July until Aug. 3, draws the moneyed elites and big corporate sponsors. George Clooney's smiling face is a fixture around the town as the brand ambassador for food giant Nestle's Nespresso coffee line, while Swiss private banker Julius Baer is another sponsor.
By Michael Hann GLASGOW (Reuters) - England’s Alex Dowsett channelled his anger at being left out of the team for this year's Tour de France to win gold in the men’s time trial at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday. In the absence of England’s Olympic time trial champion Bradley Wiggins, who opted to compete in the track events, the 25-year-old Dowsett swept round the 40km course, which passed through the Scottish countryside before coming back into Glasgow, in a time of 47:41.78. Australia’s Rohan Dennis, who looked to be heading for gold until Dowsett stormed through the final section to make up a five-second deficit, finished nearly 10 seconds behind to claim silver with Geraint Thomas of Wales taking bronze.
By Liam Morgan SOUTHAMPTON England (Reuters) - Spinner Moeen Ali claimed six wickets to inspire England to a crushing 266-run win over India on Thursday to level an absorbing series at 1-1 with two matches to play. Spinner Moeen took six for 67, the first five-wicket haul of his test career, and India crumbled to 178 all out in their second innings on the final morning of the match. England took the six wickets they needed to secure a first test win since they beat Australia at Durham last August, ending a dismal run of 10 matches without victory. "It was a bit of a scramble for the souvenir stumps at the end as it was some people's first win and I want them to remember that," England captain Alastair Cook said at the presentation ceremony.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking broad political support, including from rival Hamas, before making any attempt to press possible war crimes charges against Israel.
By Julien Toyer and Andrés González MADRID (Reuters) - Telefonica SA gained new customers in Spain at a faster pace in the second quarter, an early sign of a turnaround from a three-year slump that wiped out more than one third of revenue and core profit in its biggest market. Spain has been the weak spot for Europe's biggest telecoms firm by revenue as cash-strapped consumers cut spending on mobile, internet and television services during a deep recession that ended last year. The company, which has agreed to buy Prisa's pay-TV business Canal+, said 348,000 new clients had signed to its TV packages in Spain in the second quarter and it had gained mobile subscribers in the country for the first time in three years. The improvement however came at the expense of lower margins, down 2 percentage points from the first quarter, with some analysts questioning whether Telefonica would eventually benefit from its investment.
Swiss voters will have another say on relations with the European Union, Switzerland's president said on Thursday, after valuable trade treaties with the bloc were put in jeopardy by a February referendum to curb immigration. The Swiss government is struggling to salvage relations with the EU after the bloc last week dismissed any renegotiation of a 12-year-old pact guaranteeing the free movement of workers. "It will be necessary for the people of Switzerland to vote again on what they want the future of the bilateral agreements to be ... by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017," President Didier Burkhalter said in an interview with Swiss television to commemorate the Aug. 1 independence holiday. Free movement of people is one of the fundamental policies of the European Union, and Switzerland, while not a member of the 28-nation bloc, has to uphold that principle in order to benefit from favourable trade conditions.