Pope leads crowd in silent prayer for Mideast

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis led tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square in unannounced, silent prayer for an end to the warfare in the Mideast.

Francis called for insistent prayers for peace in the Holy Land during his Sunday window appearance to pilgrims and tourists.

He said he didn't consider "in vain" the June 8 peace prayer gathering he hosted at the Vatican attended by the Israeli and Palestinian presidents. Francis, who made a Mideast pilgrimage in May, urged people to avoid concluding that "violence and hatred win out over dialogue and reconciliation."

$11M deal with U.S.: The Czech Defense Ministry has signed a deal to deliver 14 military airplanes to the United States in an $11 million deal. According to the deal signed today, Czech plane maker Aero Vodochody will take the subsonic L-159 military planes back from the Czech military and will resell them to Draken International Inc., a U.S. company that cooperates with the U.S. army.

Running of bulls: A fighting bull gored two men and spread panic in a hair-raising final running of the bulls at Spain's San Fermin festival today. Hundreds of people dashed alongside the six half-ton beasts and their accompanying steer through the cobblestone streets of Pamplona in the eighth run. Navarra hospital's Dr. Oscar Gorria said two men were gored in the leg.

Tensions: Another day, another defiant weapons test from North Korea. A day after launching two ballistic missiles from a base near the border with archrival South Korea, Pyongyang today fired a barrage of artillery shells into waters near its eastern sea border with the South. Officials in Seoul have confirmed nearly 100 missile, rocket and artillery tests by North Korea this year, an output seen as significantly higher than past years. Analysts see no end to the test-firings in sight.

New leader: Jean-Claude Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg for almost two decades, was a controversial pick as the 28-nation European Union's new chief executive, not least because the British government vociferously opposed him. The British tabloid The Sun portrayed him as "the most dangerous man in Europe." Yet the 59-year-old conservative politician is set to be elected by overwhelming majority Tuesday as the next president of the European Commission.

Talks with Iran: Secretary of State John Kerry will hold in-depth discussions today with Iran's top diplomat in a bid to advance faltering nuclear negotiations, with a deadline just days away for a comprehensive agreement. The scheduled talks come a day after Kerry and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany failed to reach a breakthrough on uranium enrichment and other issues standing in the way of a deal.

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