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The exercises are the latest move to provide a combat capability for the carrier, which was launched last month without aircraft or an accompanying battle group.

The next step would be the launching and recovery of aircraft, a much trickier process that may be years away.

PHILIPPINES

Muslim rebels sign pact as step to peace

MANILA — Muslim rebels and the Philippine government overcame decades of bitter hostility and took their first tentative step Monday toward ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies with the signing of a preliminary peace pact that provides both hope and challenges.

The framework agreement creates a road map for a final peace settlement.

It grants minority Muslims in the southern Philippines broad autonomy in exchange for ending more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and crippled development.

It was signed in Manila’s Malacanang presidential palace by government negotiator Marvic Leonen and his counterpart from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mohagher Iqbal.

Also witnessing the historic moment were President Benigno Aquino III, rebel chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim — who set foot in the palace for the first time — and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose country helped broker the deal.

LITHUANIA

Lithuanians deal blow to austerity, nuke plans

VILNIUS — Dealing a blow to the conservative government’s vision of becoming a regional energy powerhouse, Lithuanians voted instead for big-spending politicians and rejected plans for a new nuclear power plant.

The populist Labor Party, led by a Russian-born millionaire, won Sunday’s election in this Baltic nation with 20 percent of the vote, while the center-left Social Democrats came in second, with 18.5 percent.

The two have agreed to form a new government to replace a center-right coalition, which managed just over 23 percent of the vote.

The exact composition of the next 141-seat Parliament is still not clear pending some runoff votes on Oct. 28, but Labor and the Socialists are expected to gain a majority.

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