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AROUND THE WORLD

VP calls on militants to lay down weapons

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (AP) -- In a speech marking the Afghan new year, Vice President Abdul Karim Khalili on Monday called on militants to lay down their weapons because the nation will never return to the days of hard-line Taliban rule.

"We are going toward the light. We are never going back to the dark," Khalili said at a historic blue-tiled mosque in the center of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.

Sunday night, a gunman killed a policeman outside the headquarters of Yosuf Khel district of Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, said Mokhlis Afghan, a spokesman for the province.

Also, NATO reported that a coalition service member died Sunday in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan.

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Tax, power-use issues rock Harper regime

TORONTO (AP) -- Canadian politics have hit a turbulent patch that may bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government this week over corporate tax cuts and alleged abuses of power.

But if an election becomes necessary, Canadians are likely to emerge from it with little changed. Opinion polls expect Harper's Conservative Party to win, but not outright, meaning he will continue to govern with a minority in Parliament.

The double trigger that may bring him down is the federal budget, which is being presented to Parliament today, and allegations -- supported Monday by a parliamentary committee -- that Harper acted in contempt of the House of Commons by failing to disclose the full financial details of his tougher crime legislation, corporate tax cuts and plans to purchase U.S. stealth fighter jets.

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Obama's Europe trip to include Poland visit

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- President Obama will travel to Poland in May, his first trip there as president.

Obama's visit will be part of a larger European trip May 23-28 that includes a state visit to Britain, an economic summit in France and a stop in Ireland.

Obama is traveling in Latin America, his first foreign trip of the year.

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Crash of cargo plane is fatal to at least 16

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) -- At least 16 people were killed when a cargo plane crashed Monday into a densely populated neighborhood, according to witnesses and a cameraman who captured the plane's fall on video.

The Antonov 32 -- owned by private company Trans Air Congo -- crashed in the Mvoumvou area of Pointe-Noire, the country's economic capital, burying several houses in debris.

Marc Ibata Ngassaki, a cameraman for state-owned television, said the pilot was able to get out of the cockpit before the plane came to a rest. Ambulances and medical personnel raced to the scene, but the total number of casualties was not immediately clear.

In October 2007, at least 50 people were killed in the capital, Kinshasa, when an Antonov 26 crashed during takeoff. In 2008, a DC-9 passenger plane overshot the runway in Goma in the country's east, killing at least 44 people.

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