Yahoo (International News)

· Greeks evenly split heading into crucial referendum

Men prepare voting booths ahead of the referendum at a high school, which will be used a polling station in AthensBy Michele Kambas and Lefteris Papadimas ATHENS (Reuters) - Thousands of Greeks staged rival rallies on Friday ahead of a weekend referendum that may decide the country's future in Europe's single currency, with polls showing voters almost evenly split. Repeating his assault on European partners he accused of blackmailing and issuing ultimatums to Greece, the leftist leader called for calm ahead of Sunday's ballot.

· Iran nuclear talks in endgame, negotiators push on sticking points

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Salehi and Fereydoon, brother and close aide to President Hassan Rouhani meet with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry in ViennaBy John Irish and Louis Charbonneau VIENNA (Reuters) - A year and half of nuclear talks between Iran and major powers were creeping towards the finish line on Friday as negotiators wrestled with sticking points including questions about Tehran's past atomic research. Iran is in talks with the United States and five other powers - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - on an agreement to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. "We are coming to the end," said a senior Western diplomat, who added there was no plan to carry on for long past next Tuesday.

· Tunisian militant chief probably died in U.S. air strike: source
A veteran Tunisian militant was probably killed by a U.S. air strike on a jihadist meeting in Libya last month whose main target was a top Algerian fighter, a U.S. official said on Friday. Tunisian Saifallah Benhassine, also known as Abu Iyad, was a major figure among militant Islamists in North Africa. The U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said he was thought to have died in the June 13 strike on Ajdabiya city near Benghazi.
· Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen cities kill 16: Houthis

A boy carries his sister near the collapsed house of Yemen's late prime minister Ghanim after it was hit by a Saudi-led air strike in SanaaSaudi-led air strikes killed at least 16 people in Yemen on Friday, the country's dominant Houthi militia said, and the European Union and United States appealed for a pause in the war to enable aid deliveries to stricken civilians. An Arab coalition has been bombarding Iran-allied Houthi forces and allied army units since March in a campaign to restore exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. Houthi sources said six people including a woman and a child were killed and six wounded in a dawn air strike on the al Jaraf neighborhood of the capital Sanaa.

· Dutch seek U.N. tribunal to prosecute downing of Malaysian plane

Members of a group of international experts inspect the territory at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of HraboveBy Anthony Deutsch THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The Dutch government is lobbying its political allies for the establishment of a U.N. tribunal to prosecute suspects in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine a year ago, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. Rutte said a U.N. tribunal would give "the best guarantee of cooperation from all countries" in seeking justice for the families of the 298 victims, most of whom were Dutch passengers aboard flight MH17. Malaysia, one of five countries on a Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team probing the crash, told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday it plans to push for a U.N.-backed tribunal, even as Russia described the move as premature, diplomats said.

· Turkey reinforces Syria border, PM says no incursion planned

Turkey's Prime Minister Davutoglu addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party at the Turkish parliament in AnkaraBy Orhan Coskun ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has deployed additional troops and equipment along part of its border with Syria as fighting north of the city of Aleppo intensifies, security sources said, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were no immediate plans for any incursion. Ankara has mooted the creation of a 'secure zone' on Syrian territory due to concerns about Syrian Kurd advances and the presence of Islamic State militants, as well as the possibility of a fresh wave of refugees fleeing conflict. Security sources and officials in the capital Ankara said the Turkish army had stepped up security, also sending in special forces, due to the heavy fighting.

· Rival rallies in Greece, PM sees slipping support for vote

A Greek man wearing a cape reading "No" arrives to take part in a demonstration calling for a 'No' vote in the upcoming referendum in Athens on July 3, 2015Rival rallies swelled in central Athens late Friday ahead of a referendum the Greek government called to bolster it in its struggle with creditors, even though polls now show public support swinging against it. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was expected to address the 'No' rally later Friday, went on television earlier to urge voters to ignore European scaremongering that the ballot could lead to Greece crashing out of the euro. Adding to that, a eurozone emergency fund officially declared Greece to be in default on Friday for not paying a 1.5-billion loan instalment to the International Monetary Fund loan earlier this week.

· World stocks drift lower ahead of Greek vote; China plunges

FILE - In this Friday, June 26, 2015, file photo, an investor walks by the screen displaying stock prices in a brokerage house in Hangzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. World stock markets mostly drifted lower Friday, July 3, 2015, ahead of Greece's weekend referendum, while China's main stock benchmark plunged as government efforts failed to reassure panicky investors. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUTWorld stock markets mostly drifted lower Friday ahead of Greece's weekend referendum, while China's main stock benchmark plunged as government efforts failed to reassure panicky investors.

· Fearing change in sweetheart deal, Cubans flock to US

Cubans queue outside the US interests section in Havana to apply for visas on July 1, 2015The number of Cubans heading to the US has surged in the months since the historic thaw in bilateral relations -- a swell experts attribute to uncertainty over the future of US policy that favors such travelers. According to the US Customs Department, 9,371 Cuban migrants came into the US between January and March, more than twice the number from the same period in 2014. As both countries prepare to solidify a breakthrough by opening embassies in each other's capitals for the first time in half a century, the influx stems from doubt over whether US policies giving preference to Cuban immigrants will change.

· Lion cubs en route to Jordan sanctuary check into Gaza hotel

Ibrahim Al-Jamal, 17, hugs Mona, the female lion cub, as his father Saduldin, 54, strokes her as they wait to evacuate from Gaza to the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 3, 2015. A pair of lion cubs are stuck at a Gaza-Israel border crossing en route to a Jordan animal sanctuary, after being kept for a year by a family in crowded Gaza. Saduldin al-Jamal had bought the cubs from the Gaza zoo, hit during last summer's Israel-Hamas war. His family would take them to parks or the beach and children — those brave enough — would come up to pet them. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza's militant Hamas rulers on Friday allowed a pair of lion cubs en route to a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan back into the Palestinian coastal strip after the animals and their entourage had been stuck for several hours on no-man's land at a Gaza-Israel border crossing.

· UN rights body backs call for accountability in Gaza war

In this Tuesday, June 23, 2015, photo, Israeli youth build a bonfire next to a bomb shelter, during preparation to celebrate their Bar Mitzvah, in Kibbutz Beeri, southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip. A year after the Gaza war, the community in southern Israel, long battered by rockets from the Hamas-run territory next door, has slowly recovered and is even seeing a quiet boom. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)BERLIN (AP) — The U.N.'s top human rights body backed calls Friday for accountability in last year's conflict in Gaza, in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians and six Israeli civilians were killed.

· U.S. pushes China on ivory trade, wildlife NGOs

Carved pieces of confiscated ivory are placed out to be crushed in New York's Times SquareBy Megha Rajagopalan BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official told China on Friday that its legal imports of ivory act as a loophole for illegal traders, and that it needs to understand the importance of wildlife NGOs. China signed a pact banning global trade in ivory in 1981, but it got an exemption in 2008 to buy 62 tonnes of ivory from several African nations. It releases a portion of that stockpile each year to government-licensed ivory carving factories.

· UN leader offers assistance in Guyana-Venezuela dispute
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday offered assistance to resolve an escalating border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.
· Diaspora Greeks book flights, lobby friends ahead of vote
Konstantinos Dimitriou, a management consultant who lives in Singapore, is catching a plane early on Saturday and making the 19-hour journey back to Athens to vote 'Yes' to accept a deal. New Jersey-born John Sitilides, an international relations specialist who consults with the U.S. Department of State on Greece-related issues, said many Greeks and Greek-Americans in the United States were lobbying voters. The push was mostly to vote 'Yes', Sitilides said, a result that supporters see as keeping Greece in the euro zone and which probably would lead to the fall of leftist Prime Minister Alex Tsipras' government.
· Greek referendum not about being in euro zone or not: EU's Tusk
The European Union is looking for ways to keep Greece inside the euro, but that may mean getting used to having a bankrupt country in the single currency area, European Council President Donald Tusk was quoted as saying. "Maybe we will have to get used to living with a country as a member of the euro zone in bankruptcy," Tusk said in an interview given on Thursday evening to news website Politico before Sunday's Greek referendum on a bailout deal. "It’s very clear that the referendum is not ... about being in the euro zone or not," Tusk said, diverging from other EU leaders who have said Sunday's referendum is about whether Greece stayed in the euro zone.
· European temps climb, pope gives thanks for some rain

Julian, left, is photographed by his mother with friend Gianluca, right, under water at a public pool in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on a hot Friday, July 3, 2015. Germany faces a heat wave with temperatures up to 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) at the weekend. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)PARIS (AP) — Europeans struggled Friday to find relief from unusually high temperatures, but the U.N. weather agency said the continent is better prepared than ever to avoid major heat casualties.

· Rival Greece referendum rallies swell to 25,000, 20,000 in Athens

Greek protesters during a demonstration call for a 'No' vote in the upcoming referendum in Athens on July 3, 2015Rival rallies ahead of Greece's referendum were held in central Athens late Friday, with a pro-government demonstration urging a "No" vote gathering 25,000 people and a nearby "Yes" crowd attracting 20,000, according to police. The "No" rally in front of the Greek parliament was to be addressed later by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who called the Sunday plebiscite on whether to accept bailout terms in a bid to strengthen his hand in negotiations with Greece's creditors.

· Militants, rebels in Syria announce new push for Aleppo
BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic militants and rebels in Syria launched fresh attacks on government-held neighborhoods in Aleppo on Friday, setting off some of the heaviest fighting in months in the contested northern city, activists and state media said.
· Sunnis, Shiites hold joint prayers in Bahrain

Bahraini security forces man a checkpoint as Shiite Muslims walk towards a mosque for Friday prayers in the village of Diraz, west of Manama, on July 3, 2015Dozens of Shiites and Sunnis prayed side by side Friday in a mosque near the capital of Bahrain, a country hit since 2011 by Shiite-led protests against its Sunni rulers. Residents said tight security was in place for the special session of weekly prayers in a mosque at Diraz, a Shiite village west of Manama. The joint prayers were a show of Bahraini "unity in the face of those plotting against the Arab and Islamic world", said Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ali Al-Khalifa.

· Meditating Portuguese actor suspected of terror plot
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A Portuguese actor says he was detained on suspicion of terrorism after meditating and chanting Buddhist texts aboard a plane at Paris Orly airport.

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