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IN THE NEWS - Merkel, Obama Aim for Diplomatic Solution in Ukraine

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President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 9, 2015.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President Barack Obama in Washington Monday to talk about how to end the fighting in Ukraine. The two leaders then held a news conference to answer questions from the media.

President Obama said that providing Ukraine with weapons in its fight against Russian-supported separatists remains a possibility. However, no decision has been made yet. The president said Russia is continuing its "aggression" against Ukraine by sending tanks and artillery to support the separatists. He said this was in violation of last September's cease-fire agreement.

Chancellor Merkel said she hoped a diplomatic solution could be reached. She did not see a military answer to the conflict.

Some members of the Obama administration have expressed concern about arming Ukraine. Republicans in the U.S. Congress however are urging action. Officials in the Obama administration and European officials have noted that providing Ukraine with weapons could cause Russia to react militarily, which would further threaten civilians.

Ms. Merkel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande agreed to meet Wednesday in Minsk, Belarus, to talk more about a new cease-fire plan.

The European Union decided on Monday to delay placing restrictions on Ukrainian separatists and Russians. EU officials meeting in Brussels decided to wait until the four-nation meeting is completed.

Chinese billionaire executed on corruption, murder charges

China has executed a businessman after a court found him guilty of leading an organized crime group. Liu Han, his brother and three others were executed early Monday. He was the head of the Hanlong Group, the largest private business in China's Sichuan Province. His company invested in minerals, electricity, energy finance and property. The 48-year-old was said to have billions of dollars. A court found him guilty of charges including murder and organizing gambling.

Observers say the execution is part of China's campaign against corruption.

Deadly bombings hit areas in and near Baghdad

A woman with her children walks past at the site of a suicide bombing attack in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 9, 2015.
A woman with her children walks past at the site of a suicide bombing attack in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 9, 2015.

Sixteen people have been killed in two bombings in and near Iraq's capital Baghdad. A suicide bomber attacked an area of the city where mostly Shi'ite Muslims live, Monday. The bombings killed at least 16 people. One of Shiite Islam's holiest religious centers is in the area.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. However, Sunni militants often are blamed for attacks on Shiites.

The second bomb exploded in an area north of Baghdad, killing at least two people.

On Sunday, at least 37 people were killed in a series of bombings that took place just hours after the end of a 10-year-old nighttime curfew.

Violence kills at least 25 at Soccer game in Cairo

Egypt's government has suspended soccer league matches after at least 25 people were killed in clashes between police and team supporters. The clashes took place at a sports center in Cairo on Sunday.

Observers said police tried to block people who were trying to force their way into the stadium. The police used barriers and teargas.

Music industry hands out honors in Los Angeles

Sam Smith poses with his awards including one for Best New Artist.
Sam Smith poses with his awards including one for Best New Artist.

And British musician Sam Smith won four Grammy awards Sunday, including best new artist. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter also won Grammys for best pop vocal album and record of the year.

Many people were surprised when the musician Beck won a Grammy for album of the year.

Singer Beyoncé won three Grammys. Rapper Pharrell Williams also won three Grammys including one for best pop solo performance for the song Happy.

The Grammy awards take place in Los Angeles, California. They honor performers and others involved in the music industry.

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Words in the News

Cease-fire n. an agreement to stop fighting a war for a period of time so that a permanent agreement can be made to end the war

Campaign-n. a connected series of military actions during a war; a series of activities designed to produce a particular result

Album-n. a long musical recording on a record, CD, etc., that usually includes a set of songs

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