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Major Powers agreed today to a cessation of hostilities in Syria set to begin in a week and to provide rapid humanitarian access to besieged Syrian towns.

They however failed to secure a complete ceasefire or an end to Russian bombing. Following marathon talks in Munich, the powers, including the united states, Russia and more than a dozen other nations, reaffirmed their commitment to a political transition when conditions on the ground improved. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the agreement at a press conference alongside his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov and U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. Kerry said all parties would work to implement a nationwide ceasefire. Kerry also acknowledged the Munich meeting produced commitments on paper only. He said the real test is clearly whether or not all the parties honor those commitments and implement them in reality. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei lavrov told the news conference that Russia would not stop air attacks in Syria, saying the cessation of hostilities did not apply to Islamic state and al Nusrah, which is affiliated with al Qaeda.

 

Saudi Arabia has offered to increase its military contributions to the campaign against I.S. Militants, including an expansion of its role in the air campaign.

This was stated by the U.S. Defense secretary ash carter after bilateral talks on the sidelines of a gathering of coalition defence ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Carter met deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the country's Defence minister, before the coalition meeting. Carter said Saudi Arabia could provide training to security forces on the ground. The U.S. Defense secretary said, coalition partners responded positively to a United States call to contribute more to a u.s.-led military campaign against Islamic State. Carter's push came a day after France delivered a rebuke to President Barack Obama, demanding that Washington show a clearer commitment to resolving the crisis in Syria, where Russia is tipping the military balance in favour of president al-Bashar Assad. The talks took place as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led a diplomatic push in Munich to rescue imperiled peace efforts, which are being held despite Russian bombing raids around the city of Aleppo.

 

Russia's defense ministry held large-scale military drills on the annexed Crimean peninsula and in the southern Krasnodar region.

According to the ministry's website, 8,500 troops, about 900 military vehicles, 50 warships and up to 200 war planes were expected to take part in the drill. Russia has carried out several unannounced military drills since relations with the west deteriorated over the Ukraine crisis, with Moscow criticizing what it says is a build-up of Nato forces near Russia's borders. In January, Russia said it would form four new military divisions this year to strengthen its western and central regions, in response to increased Nato presence in Europe.

 

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie sanders clashed over support for the president in their first debate since the New Hampshire primary.

Mrs Clinton sought to cast herself as the protector of Barack Obama's legacy, sharply attacking sanders for criticising the president. Sanders took pains to tailor to his message of economic fairness to address disparities in black communities. Hillary Clinton also accused rival Bernie sanders of misleading Americans about the costs and viability of his healthcare plan, saying he was making promises "that cannot be kept." Sanders said he would not dismantle the healthcare plan known as Obamacare and was simply moving to provide what most industrialized countries have - healthcare coverage for all.

 

Two passenger trains have collided in the German State of Bavaria, with police saying several people have been killed and scores injured.

The crash happened at bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km south-east of Munich. One of the trains was derailed in the crash and several carriages were overturned, German media reported. The cause of the collision is not yet known.

 
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