Former President George W. Bush underwent successful surgery for a partial knee replacement, a spokesman said on Tuesday. Bush's outpatient procedure took place on Saturday in Chicago. "He was up walking around just a couple hours after the procedure and was even able to go up and down a flight of stairs just a couple hours after the operation," said Bush spokesman Freddy Ford.
US forces will complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, 15 years after the September 11 attacks, President Barack Obama was to say Tuesday. The United States invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime in Kabul and to hunt its ally Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, author of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The insurgents are still far from defeated, but Washington now wants to withdraw its troops from the battlefield and into a support role for Afghan government forces, and eventually to leave. "We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement," a senior administration official said ahead of Obama's announcement.
South Africa's economy shrank in the first quarter of the year, in the worst performance recorded since the global recession five years ago, official data showed Tuesday. Statistics South Africa reported the economy contracted by 0.6 percent quarter-on-quarter, a stunning reversal for Africa's most advanced economy amid a rapid boom elsewhere in the continent. The worse-than-expected data comes during the first full day on the job for South African finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. The 55-year-old was sworn in as South Africa's first black finance minister on Monday, tasked with overseeing "radical" social and economic reforms in President Jacob Zuma's new five-year term.
President Barack Obama congratulated Ukraine's president-elect, Petro Poroshenko, on his election victory on Tuesday and offered U.S. support as he seeks to unify the country, the White House said. Poroshenko, a billionaire confectionary magnate, won Sunday's election and has vowed to crush a revolt by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine after Russia's seizure of Crimea. A White House statement said Obama congratulated Poroshenko and offered "the full support of the United States as he seeks to unify and move his country forward." The two leaders agreed to continue their conversation during Obama's trip to Europe next week, the White House said.
The world's chemical weapons watchdog said on Tuesday that a convoy of its inspectors overseeing the dismantling of Syria's weapons program had come under attack, but all were safe. "All team members are safe and well and heading back to their operating base," said Michael Luhan, spokesman for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Syrian foreign ministry reported earlier that six investigators had been kidnapped with their Syrian drivers while on a fact-finding mission in the central province of Hama. The team had been investigating allegations that Syrian government forces unleashed a chlorine attack on a rebel-held village in Hama province last month.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is stepping up pressure on the White House to confront Russia over allegations that it is cheating on a key nuclear arms treaty — a faceoff that could further strain U.S.-Moscow relations and dampen President Barack Obama's hopes to add deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals to his legacy.
Shiite rebels in northern Yemen attacked army positions and killed five soldiers, prompting renewed clashes on between the two sides on Tuesday, local officials and medics said. On May 20, medics said 25 soldiers and rebels were killed in similar clashes in Amran, a stronghold of the insurgents who have tried to bolster their standing in the region by holding armed parades and anti-military protests. Huthis have been fighting the central government for years, complaining of marginalisation under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in 2012 after a year of protests.
A Saudi court sentenced to death a Shiite protester convicted of opening fire on a police patrol during unrest in the kingdom's east, local media reported on Tuesday. The sentence is the heaviest handed to a protester in the trial of scores detained over their involvement in anti-regime protests in the oil-rich Eastern Province since February 2011. The court, which specialises in terrorism cases, convicted the Saudi man of "disobedience... undermining security and causing sedition" by opening fire on a police patrol in the Shiite-populated Qatif district with the help of two accomplices, according to local media. Activists identified the convict as Rida Rabih, son of Shiite cleric Jaafar Rabih, who became known for his efforts to ease tensions that were brewing in Qatif's flashpoint village of Awamiya.
A senior Hezbollah commander branded by the FBI as one of the world's most wanted terrorists was killed fighting in Syria, residents of his village in southern Lebanon told AFP Tuesday. Powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah has deployed thousands of fighters into neighbouring Syria to back President Bashar al-Assad's army as he battles insurgents who have been trying to overthrow him for the past three years. "Fawzi Ayoub was killed fighting in Syria. According to another resident of Ain Qana, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Beirut, "Ayoub was a leading Hezbollah commander in the Aleppo area" in northern Syria.
The IMF declared Tuesday that Spain's economic recovery is here to stay, hailing a return to growth and job-creation despite the nation's 26-percent unemployment rate. "Spain has turned the corner," the International Monetary Fund said in a report on the eurozone's fourth-largest economy, which emerged in mid-2013 from five years of stop-start recession. The Fund noted that Spain grew in the first three months of this year at a quarterly rate of 0.4 percent -- the fastest clip since a 2008 property crash destroyed millions of jobs and flooded the nation in debt. "The labour reform and wage moderation are helping turn job destruction to job creation," the IMF said.
South Africa's economy shrank in the first quarter of the year, in the worst performance recorded since the global recession five years ago, official data showed Tuesday. Statistics South Africa reported the economy contracted by 0.6 percent, a stunning reversal for Africa's most advanced economy amid a rapid boom elsewhere in the continent. The worse-than-expected data comes during the first full day on the job for South African finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. The 55-year-old was sworn in as South Africa's first black finance minister on Monday.
Jordan on Tuesday downplayed the expulsion of Syria's ambassador to Amman, Bahjat Suleiman, saying relations with Damascus will not be severed and its embassy will remain open. "The government's decision to consider Bahjat Suleiman persona non grata and ask him to leave within 24 hours over his insults to Jordan does not at all mean that Jordanian-Syrian ties will be severed," Information Minister Mohammad Momani told government-owned Al-Rai daily.