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The I.S. Group has used Japanese hostage Kenji Goto to relay a new threat to kill a Jordanian pilot, unless Amman hands over an imprisoned female bomber by sunset today.

The new threat came after Jordan offered to exchange Sajida Al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber, for the pilot Maaz Al-Kassasbeh, after the militant group's earlier deadline for executing the airman and Goto was thought to have expired. Japan has been seeking Jordan's help in attempting to free Goto since an I.S. video released at the weekend said another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, had been beheaded. After initially setting a 200 million dollar ransom for Yukawa and Goto's release, the I.S. group, which rules swathes of Syria and Iraq, changed track and demanded Jordan free Rishawi.

 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today said that Tokyo was analyzing the authenticity of a fresh message from I.S. militants threatening to kill Japanese and Jordanian hostages unless an imprisoned female bomber is released.

Tokyo is pleading to Amman to help rescue Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who has been taken hostage by the Islamic State group. The Japanese Prime Minister warned that he would not give in to terrorisms.

 

In another related development deputy White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that I.S. was a "terrorist group" while the Taliban is "an armed insurgency."

When asked by news reporter as to how the U.S. exchange with the Taliban for army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is different from the Jordanian's swap with I.S. For the release of Japanese prisoner, Kenji Goto, Schultz explained that while I.S. is considered a "terrorist group", the Taliban was not.

 

Spain has said that Israeli fire had killed a Spanish UN peacekeeper serving in South Lebanon and called on the United Nations to fully investigate the violence.

Two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish UN peacekeeper were killed as Hezbollah militants traded fire with Israeli forces on the Lebanese border. The Security Council condemned the death of the Spanish corporal who died from wounds sustained during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters on the border. The Spanish envoy said he had asked for a full investigation during an emergency meeting of the council called by France to discuss ways to defuse tensions between Israel and Lebanon. The violence raised fears of another all-out conflict between the two countries, who fought a month-long war in 2006, in a region already wracked by fighting in Syria and Iraq. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for "maximum calm and restraint," urging all sides to "act responsibly to prevent any escalation in an already tense regional environment,". Tension in the area has been building, especially after an Israeli air strike on the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general on January 18.

 

Cuban President Raul Castro has laid out conditions to normalize relations with the United States, demanding an end to the embargo, the return of Guantanamo and Havana's removal from a terror list.

Castro issued his demands a week after the highest-ranking us delegation to Havana in 35 years and Cuban officials held landmark talks aimed at reopening embassies and renewing ties that broke off in 1961. Cuba has long blamed the embargo for the communist island's economic woes, with billboards in the country equating the decades-old economic sanctions to a "genocide." Speaking at a summit of the community of Latin American and Caribbean states in Costa Rica, Castro said that the road to ending the embargo would be "long and hard." US President Barack Obama called on congress last week to put an end to the embargo, which was imposed in 1962 and has been a major source of tension between the cold war-era rivals since then. Earlier this month, Obama used his executive powers to ease travel and trade restrictions with Havana, putting a dent on the embargo.

 
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