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World news briefs — Compiled Sept. 16

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AFGHANISTAN

Presidential race begins

Afghanistan’s presidential race kicked off Monday as election authorities began accepting the nominations of would-be candidates, the start of a wide-open race whose winner will oversee the final phases of the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops amid a relentless Taliban insurgency. The first day of registration drew ... no one. No major candidates are expected to submit their nominations until closer to the Oct. 6 deadline, part of a waiting game to see how the field shapes up. The election, set for April 5, will determine who succeeds incumbent President Hamid Karzai, who will have served two five-year terms.

CUBA

Direct mail discussed

U.S. and Cuban representatives met in Havana on Monday for renewed talks on re-establishing direct mail service, 50 years after it was severed amid Cold War tensions relations. The American delegation was led by Lea Emerson, executive director for international postal affairs at the U.S. Postal Service, and included State Department officials. They met with counterparts from Cuba’s postal agency and Foreign Ministry. The goal is to hammer out details of a pilot program to directly transport mail between the two countries five decades after it was canceled in 1963. Currently, letters mailed from the United States to Cuba and vice versa take circuitous paths through third countries even though just 90 miles of sea separates the island nation from Florida.

PHILIPPINES

Troops free captives

Philippine troops have recaptured 70 percent of the coastal areas of a southern city that was occupied by Muslim rebels and today rescued nearly 80 of more than 100 hostages, as the standoff dragged to its second week. About 64 hostages were freed or escaped during military operations early today, the military reported. They were followed by another 14 who walked to freedom in separate batches. “Our soldiers used selective fire to neutralize the kidnappers,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said in a statement. He said three soldiers died and 10 were wounded in the latest fighting in Zamboanga city.

Compiled from wire reports.


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