MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored Washington’s “ironclad commitment” Tuesday to help defend the Philippines in case of an armed attack against its forces after clashes between Chinese and Filipino coast guards in the disputed South China Sea recently turned more hostile. Blinken, the latest high-level official to visit the United States treaty ally, met his Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo on Tuesday before separately meeting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila.

PARIS (AP) — The restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following a tragic blaze in April 2019 is a story of dedication and recovery. The iconic medieval monument immortalized in history, film and literature has been gradually rebuilt over the past five years, through challenges that have included delays during the pandemic and the loss of the project's leader. It's slated for completion by the end of 2024.

GENEVA (AP) — Illegal profits from forced labor worldwide have risen to the “obscene” amount of $236 billion per year, the U.N. labor agency reported Tuesday, with sexual exploitation to blame for three-fourths of the take from a business that deprives migrants of money they can send home, swipes jobs from legal workers, and allows the criminals behind it to dodge taxes.

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed Tuesday that the U.S. will continue to support Ukraine's war effort against Russia, even as the U.S. Congress remains stalled over funding to send additional weapons to the front. “The United States will not let Ukraine fail,” said Austin, addressing more than 50 defense leaders from Europe and around the world who are meeting at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong lawmakers unanimously passed a new national security law on Tuesday that grants the government more power to quash dissent, widely seen as the latest step in a sweeping political crackdown that was triggered by pro-democracy protests in 2019. The legislature passed the Safeguarding National Security Bill during a special session Tuesday.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Gangs attacked two upscale neighborhoods in Haiti’s capital early Monday in a rampage that left at least a dozen people dead in surrounding areas. Gunmen looted homes in the communities of Laboule and Thomassin before sunrise, forcing residents to flee as some called radio stations pleading for police. The neighborhoods had remained largely peaceful despite a surge in violent gang attacks across Port-au-Prince that began on Feb. 29.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after extending his rule in an election that stifled opposition that Moscow will not relent in its invasion of Ukraine and plans to create a buffer zone along the border to help protect against long-range Ukrainian strikes and cross-border raids.

President Vladimir Putin sealed his control over Russia for six more years on Monday with a highly orchestrated landslide in an election that followed the harshest crackdown on the opposition and free speech since Soviet times. While the result was never in doubt, Russians attempted to defy the inevitable outcome, heeding a call to protest Putin's repression at home and his war in Ukraine by showing up at polling stations at noon on Sunday.

MIAMI (AP) — A charter flight carrying dozens of U.S. citizens fleeing spiraling gang violence in Haiti landed Sunday in Miami, U.S. State Department officials said. More than 30 U.S. citizens were on the government-chartered flight, officials said in a statement. It arrived in the Miami International Airport after the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince earlier this month urged U.S. citizens to leave “as soon as possible” as chaos grips Haiti.

Russian President Vladimir Putin basked in a victory early Monday that was never in doubt, as partial election results showed him easily securing a fifth term after facing only token challengers and harshly suppressing opposition voices. With little margin for protest, Russians crowded outside polling stations at noon Sunday, on the last day of the election, apparently heeding an opposition call to express their displeasure with Putin.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired multiple short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters Monday morning, its neighbors said, days after the end of the South Korean-U.S. military drills that the North views as an invasion rehearsal.

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The United States scrambled on Sunday to assess the future of its counterterrorism operations in the Sahel after Niger's junta said it was ending its yearslong military cooperation with Washington following a visit by top U.S. officials. The U.S. military has hundreds of troops stationed at a major airbase in northern Niger that deploys flights over the vast Sahel region — south of the Sahara Desert — where jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate.

Russians crowded outside polling stations at noon Sunday on the last day of a presidential election, apparently heeding an opposition call to protest against President Vladimir Putin in a vote that offered them no real alternatives after he ruthlessly cracked down on dissent. Shortly after the last polls closed in Russia, early returns pointed to the conclusion everyone expected: that Putin would extend his nearly quarter-century rule for six more years. According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, he had some 87% of the vote with about 60% of precincts counted.

The European Union on Sunday announced a 7.4 billion-euro ($8 billion) aid package for cash-strapped Egypt as concerns mount that economic pressure and conflicts in neighboring countries could drive more migrants to European shores.

Alexei Navalny’s team is used to working independently. The most potent foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin was frequently absent for long stretches after being arrested, assaulted, poisoned, or imprisoned.

Ukrainian shelling of the Russian city of Belgorod killed two people, officials said Saturday, while Russia claimed to have thwarted a new attempt by saboteurs to cross the border. Saturday’s attacks occurred as Russians entered the second day of voting in a presidential election that is all but certain to extend Vladimir Putin’s rule by another six years after he crushed dissent.

CAIRO (AP) — Stalled talks aimed at securing a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas are expected to restart in earnest in Qatar as soon as Sunday, according to Egyptian officials. The talks would mark the first time both Israeli officials and Hamas leaders joined the indirect negotiations since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and allies warned Iran on Friday that major Western economies will pile new sanctions on Tehran if it moves forward with an advancing plan to provide ballistic missiles to Russia for its war with Ukraine. The Biden administration has raised alarms for months that Russia is seeking close-range ballistic missiles from Iran as Moscow struggles to replenish its dwindling supplies.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian missile strike on Odesa in southern Ukraine on Friday killed at least 14 people and injured 46 others, local officials said. A first missile struck houses and when emergency crews arrived at the scene a second missile landed, authorities said. Among those killed were a paramedic and an emergency service worker.

WADI GAZA, Gaza Strip (AP) — A ship carrying 200 tons of aid approached the coast of Gaza on Friday in a mission to inaugurate a sea route from Cyprus to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the enclave five months into the war between Israel and Hamas.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed his longtime economic adviser to be the next prime minister in the face of U.S. pressure to reform the Palestinian Authority as part of Washington's postwar vision for Gaza. Mohammad Mustafa, a U.S.-educated economist and political independent, will head a technocratic government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank that could potentially administer Gaza ahead of eventual statehood.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Yemen's Houthi rebels claim to have a new, hypersonic missile in their arsenal, Russia's state media reported Thursday, potentially raising the stakes in their ongoing attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and surrounding waterways against the backdrop of Israel's war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The report by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited an unnamed official but provided no evidence for the claim.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A proposal to install new leadership in Haiti appeared to be crumbling Wednesday as some political parties rejected the plan to create a presidential council that would manage the transition. The panel would be responsible for selecting an interim prime minister and a council of ministers that would attempt to chart a new path for the Caribbean country that has been overrun by gangs. The violence has closed schools and businesses and disrupted daily life across Haiti.

Haiti’s future is being planned on two tracks — one involving traditional political power, the other focused on the power of gangs. After an intense session of international diplomacy in Jamaica, a group of Caribbean nations and the United States announced Tuesday that Haiti’s best hope for calming violence rests with a council of influential figures who would elect an interim leader and could steer the country toward fresh presidential elections.

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened, issuing another blunt warning to the West just days ahead of an election in which he’s all but certain to secure another six-year term.

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