US turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A State Department official says the United States won't attend a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan next month in Russia. The reasons: The U.S. wasn't consulted before receiving the invitation and doesn't know Russia's objectives for the gathering. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Senate confirms Trump's choice for US ambassador to Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-led Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, ignoring objections from Democrats that David Friedman lacked the temperament for such an important diplomatic post. Senators voted Thursday largely along party lines, 52-46, to approve Friedman's nomination.

Northern Ireland bids farewell to ex-IRA chief McGuinness

DUBLIN (AP) -- Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army chieftain who turned away from violence to forge bonds with Northern Ireland's Protestants, was laid to rest Thursday in a cross-community service that illustrated the new alliances forged by the region's slow-blooming peace process.

The Latest: Thousands gather for vigil in London

LONDON (AP) -- The latest on the attack outside Britain's Parliament (all times local): 7:45 p.m. Several thousand people have gathered in London's Trafalgar Square for a candlelit vigil to honor the victims and their families and to show London's unity in the face of militant attacks. Dignitaries, police and clergy, including Buddhist monks in brown robes, gathered on the steps leading to the National Gallery.

In Trump's America, Hungary finds a friendlier partner

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hungary's government built a fence along its southern border, boasts about making Europe great again and says political correctness can't interfere with fighting terrorism. It's a country made for an alliance with President Donald Trump. And its top diplomat is excitedly meeting officials across Washington this week to discuss closer political, economic and military cooperation, and not the U.S.

Take that! Pyongyang lambastes Trump as too much like Obama

TOKYO (AP) -- North Korea has a criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump he probably wasn't expecting: He's too much like Barack Obama. North Korea's state media, which regularly vilified Obama in the strongest terms, had been slow to do the same with the Trump administration, possibly so that officials in Pyongyang could figure out what direction Trump will likely take and what new policies he may pursue.

Take that! Pyongyang lambastes Trump as too much like Obama

TOKYO (AP) -- North Korea has a criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump he probably wasn't expecting: He's too much like Barack Obama. North Korea's state media, which regularly vilified Obama in the strongest terms, had been slow to do the same with the Trump administration, possibly so that officials in Pyongyang could figure out what direction Trump will likely take and what new policies he may pursue.

The Latest: China envoy hails Syria peace talks 'momentum'

BEIRUT (AP) -- The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local): 5:50 p.m. China's envoy for the Syria crisis says the "momentum of peace dialogue will not be stopped" as U.N.-mediated talks are expected to resume. Xie Xiaoyan spoke to reporters a day before Syrian government and opposition delegations were set to convene for a fifth round of talks in Geneva.

US forces ferry Syrian-Kurdish fighters behind IS lines

BEIRUT (AP) -- U.S. aircraft ferried Syrian Kurdish fighters and allied forces behind Islamic State lines on Wednesday to spearhead a major ground assault on a strategic town held by the extremist group outside its self-declared capital, Raqqa, the Pentagon said, marking the first time U.S. forces have provided airlift for local forces on a combat operation in Syria.

Closer US-Russia ties uncertain as Tillerson plans trip

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With Russia-tinged investigations swirling around his administration, President Donald Trump has yet to fulfill a campaign pledge of closer cooperation with Moscow. A planned trip by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Russia could test if detente proves anything more than talk. In a move alarming U.S. allies, Tillerson plans to skip a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Belgium next month, according to U.S. officials.

Closer US-Russia ties uncertain as Tillerson plans trip

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With Russia-tinged investigations swirling around his administration, President Donald Trump has yet to fulfill a campaign pledge of closer cooperation with Moscow. A planned trip by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Russia could test if detente proves anything more than talk. In a move alarming U.S. allies, Tillerson plans to skip a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Belgium next month, according to U.S. officials.

The Latest: McGuinness' coffin carried through streets

DUBLIN (AP) -- The Latest on the death of former IRA commander and former Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness (all times local): 5:40 p.m. The body of Martin McGuinness has been borne through the streets of the Bogside, the Catholic area of Londonderry where he was born. Residents stood and applauded as McGuinness' coffin, draped in an Irish tricolor flag, was carried through the city, known as Derry to Irish nationalists.

Syrian troops respond as rebels renew attack on Damascus

BEIRUT (AP) -- Airstrikes and artillery fire shook Damascus on Tuesday as government forces tried to repel a second rebel attack on the Syrian capital in three days. The military deployed tanks along the city's leafy Fares al-Khoury Avenue leading to the eastern Jobar and Qaboun neighborhoods, where opposition forces have been pinned for years, and the cracks of gunfire could be heard from Abbassin Square.

Q&A on 'unmasking' and leaking classified information

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After FBI Director James Comey publicly has acknowledged the existence of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the White House introduced a new narrative to push back against the allegations. "Michael Flynn was umasked and then illegally, his identity was leaked out to media outlets," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

Martin McGuinness, IRA leader turned peacemaker, dies at 66

DUBLIN (AP) -- Martin McGuinness took up arms to fight British soldiers in the streets but ended up shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth II. A militant who long sought to unify Ireland through violence, he became a peacemaking politician who earned the respect, and even the friendship, of his former enemies.

Q&A on 'unmasking' and leaking classified information

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After FBI Director James Comey publicly acknowledged Monday the existence of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the White House introduced a new narrative to push back against the allegations. "Michael Flynn was umasked and then illegally, his identity was leaked out to media outlets," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

Brexit explained: What's next on the UK's road out of the EU

LONDON (AP) -- The British government announced Monday that it will formally begin its exit from the European Union on March 29. Prime Minister Theresa May will invoke Article 50 of the key EU treaty, the official start of the two-year divorce process. Then comes the hard part -- the arguments, the lawyers, the squabbles over money.

The countdown begins: Britain to start EU exit on March 29

LONDON (AP) -- Britain will begin divorce proceedings from the European Union on March 29, starting the clock on two years of intense political and economic negotiations that will fundamentally change both the nation and its European neighbors. Britain's ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, informed European Council President Donald Tusk of the exact start date on Monday morning.

Al-Qaida steps up violence against Syrian government

BEIRUT (AP) -- Under pressure from fellow insurgents and escalating airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, Syria's al-Qaida branch is stepping up violence against President Bashar Assad's strongholds with precise, high-profile attacks, including a surprising breach of the capital in the most serious infiltration in years. Sunday's attack, in which insurgents used tunnels they control in northeastern Damascus neighborhoods to hit government positions, appears to have caught the Syrian military off guard.