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Merkel 'able to work' after ski injury

Chancellor Merkel will work from home where possible. Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Angela Merkel must take it easy for three weeks and work from home where possible after a skiing accident, said her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The accident happened last week when the Chancellor fell while skiing over the Christmas vacation.

"The chancellor is of course able to work and is in full communication," said Seibert. He added that Merkel's accident occurred "at low speed" but he declined to give further details. The chancellor has postponed a visit to Warsaw scheduled for Wednesday this week, Seibert added.

But she will lead a cabinet meeting on Wednesday which will be the first gathering of all the ministers in the new "grand coalition" government of her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), which was formalised last month.

Injured Merkel 'cancels meetings for three weeks'

AFP's Berlin correspondent Deborah Cole says chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled nearly all meetings for three weeks following a skiing accident.

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Merkel fell while cross-country skiing during winter holiday, on crutches, cancelled nearly all meetings for 3 weeks @afp story to follow

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Merkel 'broke pelvis' skiing

A journalist from German broadcaster Deutsche Welle says Angela Merkel has broken her pelvis in a skiiing accident.

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#Merkel off for three weeks after breaking pelvis in skiing accident. Slow start for a #Groko that took three months to negotiate.

GroKo is short for "grosse Koalition", a grand coaliton of the two large camps from centre-left and centre-right within German politics.

US says its security agencies do not spy on the UN

The United Nations has received assurances from the US Government that its communications networks "are not and will not be monitored" by American intelligence agencies, it said.

But chief UN spokesman Martin Nesirky would not comment on whether the world body had been monitored in the past, as reported recently by the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Mr Nesirky said the UN had been in contact with Washington about the reports that surfaced two months ago and has received a guarantee from the US of no current or future eavesdropping.

NSA denies spying on the Vatican

The National Security Agency, responsible for electronic eavesdropping for the US, has been forced to deny reports that it spied on the Vatican, and released a statement saying an Italian media report that it had done so was "not true."

The National Security Agency said it did not target the Vatican. Credit: Reuters

In a statement, the NSA said:

"TheNational Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA hastargeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true."

The Holy See said it had no knowledge of any such activity.

More: NSA chief calls Europe spying claims 'false'

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Putin more powerful than Obama, says Forbes list

Russian President Vladimir Putin has come top of the Forbes world power list.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has come top of the Forbes world power list. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been voted the world's most powerful leader, pushing US counterpart Barack Obama to second place, according to Forbes magazine.

In third place is Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes third and UK Prime Minister David Cameron is some way behind in 11th.

US President Barack Obama has dropped to second in the Forbes poll.
US President Barack Obama has dropped to second in the Forbes poll. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/Geisler-Fotopres/DPA/Press Association Images

Women make up only 12 per cent of people on the 'most powerful' list. Among them are Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff (no.20) and the de facto head of India, Sonia Ghandi (no. 21).

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of the relatively few female leaders in the ranking, who make up 12 per cent of the total.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of the relatively few female leaders in the ranking, who make up 12 per cent of the total. Credit: AA/ABACA/Press Association Images

Billionaires Warren Buffett (no. 13) and Michael Bloomberg (no. 29) warranted special mention because of their philanthropic work, said Forbes.

Newcomers to the list include Pope Francis (no. 4) and Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee (no. 41).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of several billionaires who feature in the Forbes list.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of several billionaires who feature in the Forbes list. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

The list of global power-brokers is voted for by Forbes editors, who pick 72 leaders - one for every 100 million people on Earth - based on influence and wealth.

NSA chief calls Europe spying claims 'false'

The director of the National Security Agency (NSA) has denied claims that the US collected phone records from European citizens.

General Keith Alexander told a House of Representatives intelligence committee that the reports were "false" and swept up as part of a Nato program to protect the alliance's member states and military operations.

Director of the US National Security Agency General Keith Alexander.
Director of the US National Security Agency General Keith Alexander. Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed

He disputed that the programme directly targeted European citizens, but did not offer specifics.

The testimony follows weeks of allegations that the US spied on foreign leaders, diplomats and citizens of its closest allies.

US spy chief says allies spy on America's leaders

The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that foreign allies regularly conduct espionage activities against American leaders and intelligence services.

His comments came in response to a series of questions during a hearing before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

Mr Clapper also said spying on foreign leaders was a basic tenet of intelligence operations.

Obama may ban US spying on allied leaders

President Barack Obama is considering banning US intelligence collection on allied leaders, a senior Obama administration official has said.

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Barack Obama has come under pressure to take steps to reassure Americans and allies over US surveillance policy. Credit: Reuters

Reports that eavesdropping included German Chancellor Angela Merkel have now extended to France, Italy, Spain and elsewhere.

The official said the US has made some individual changes in eavesdropping practices, but has not yet made across-the-broad policy changes such as ending intelligence collection aimed at allies.

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