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Former Defense Minister Drops Out of Afghan Presidential Race

Afghanistan's former defense minister has dropped out of next month's presidential election, leaving a field of nine candidates to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai.

Abdul Rahim Wardak announced Sunday he is dropping out of the race but gave no reason for his withdrawal and endorsed no other candidate for the April 5 vote.

Wardak is the second candidate to drop out, following the withdrawal of Mr. Karzai's elder brother, Qayyum Karzai, earlier this month. After announcing his withdrawal, Karzai threw his support behind former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul, considered one of three leading candidates. The others are former finance minister Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who was runner-up in the disputed election of 2009.

Hamid Karzai has served two five-year terms and is barred by law from running again for president. He has declined to sign an agreement with the United States on allowing some American troops to remain in Afghanistan past a deadline at the end of this year.

U.S. officials have said if Mr. Karzai does not agree soon to the long-delayed deal, all U.S. troops will be pulled out of the country in December.

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Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
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August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
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Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
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