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Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia with Western backing after the Feb. 3 Serbian presidential election if the nationalist candidate wins, political sources said on Wednesday. Ethnic Albanians in the breakaway province reportedly want to make the announcement before European Union foreign ministers meet Feb. 18 to discuss transition efforts by the UN, which has run Kosovo since the 1998-99 war.

China deployed nearly 500,000 troops Wednesday to assist areas struggling after the country's worst winter storm in five decades. Although no more than a foot of snow fell in some places, many were ill-equipped to handle it, with severe power shortages leading to factory closings and slowdowns. Complicating matters is the approach of the Lunar New Year, which begins Feb. 7 and has already overburdened railways with millions of travelers. Above, soldiers shovel snow on the Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing.

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