Top news: Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. envoy to Syria, met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Dublin on Thursday night as part of an effort to outline a Syrian peace deal that would involve President Bashar al-Assad ceding power to a transitional government. On Friday, Russian officials announced that they planned to hold "brainstorming" meetings with their U.S. counterparts in the coming days on how to resolve the 20-month-old conflict.
The talks between Russia and the United States, who have long staked out opposing positions on the Syrian crisis, come soon after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that "events on the ground in Syria are accelerating" and that "the pressure against the regime in and around Damascus seems to be increasing." The United States has expressed concern that an increasingly desperate Syrian government could use chemical weapons against its opponents.
On Friday, as fighting raged around the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Syrian rebels warned civilians and airlines that Damascus International Airport, which is controlled by the Syrian military, has become a battle zone.
Japan: A 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan -- the site of last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami -- on Friday, reportedly causing small tsunamis but little damage. Japanese authorities have since lifted a tsunami warning.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made his first public appearance in three weeks after returning from medical treatment in Cuba.
- The U.S. Senate passed the Magnitsky Act, which normalizes trade relations with Russia but calls for sanctioning Russian officials who have violated human rights.
- Guatemala refused to grant asylum to anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee, who is a "person of interest" in a murder investigation in Belize.
- The death toll from a typhoon in the Philippines has surpassed 450.
- Asadullah Khalid, the new head of Afghanistan's intelligence service, survived an assassination attempt by a Taliban suicide bomber in Kabul.
- Authorities in Thailand announced murder charges against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for his involvement in a crackdown on protesters in 2010.
- Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is visiting the Gaza Strip for the first time to celebrate the group's 25th anniversary.
- In a nationally televised address, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy promised to proceed with a referendum on the country's new constitution despite violent protests against his government.
- Jordan's King Abdullah II visited the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority's successful statehood bid at the United Nations.
- Congolese rebels and government officials are preparing for peace talks in Uganda.
- Ghana is holding presidential and parliamentary elections.
- Gunmen killed the South Sudanese blogger and government critic Diing Chan Awuol in his home.
- Germany's central bank cut its growth forecast for the country to 0.4 percent in 2013.
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Northern Ireland amid sectarian tensions in the country.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "agreed to disagree" about settlements after meeting in Berlin.
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