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Effort to Avoid Conflict Over Syrian Oil Field…GOP Hoping to Pass Budget Bill This Week…Bergdahl Sentencing Today

BEIRUT (AP) – The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants says contacts with Russia are underway to avoid friction on the ground between U.S.-allied fighters and Syrian troops backed by Moscow around Syria’s largest oil field, coveted by both sides. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured Al-Omar on Sunday, narrowly beating the Russia-backed Syrian troops who were also advancing toward it.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – House Republicans leaders are hoping to pass a budget bill this week so they can turn their attention to tax reform. President Donald Trump personally urged House GOP members to move swiftly on passing the budget bill during a Sunday conference call. He said the effort would clear the way for what he described as historic tax cuts. Republicans are desperate to rack up a legislative win after a series of embarrassing failures.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) – Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear Monday before the judge deciding his punishment for endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty last week to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He pleaded guilty without striking a deal with prosecutors to cap his punishment, so the judge has wide leeway to decide his sentence.

CLARK, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines defense secretary says the defeat of pro-Islamic State group militants in Marawi helps prevent the spread of extremism in Asia. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared the last militants who had laid siege to the southern city “finished” after the last group of gunmen were found dead. He spoke at a meeting of Southeast Asian defense ministers in Clark, Philippines, saying the achievement shows how regional cooperation can advance against the spread of terrorism.

CLARK, Philippines (AP) – Japan’s defense minister is sounding an alarm on North Korea, saying its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities have grown to what he called an “unprecedented, critical and imminent” level. The minister, Itsunori Odonera, said this rising threat means his country, along with South Korea and the United States, have to collectively take what he called “different responses.”

Former presidents appear together…Syria’s oil field captured…Japanese leadership

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The five living former presidents put aside politics and appeared together for the first time since 2013 at a concert on Saturday to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, to try to unite the country after the storms.

BEIRUT (AP) – U.S-allied fighters say they captured Syria’s largest oil field from the Islamic State group, marking a major advance against the extremists and for now keeping the area out of the hands of pro-government forces. With IS in retreat across Syria and neighboring Iraq, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have been in a race to secure parts of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province along the border.

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) – A rally in Malta to honor an anti-corruption reporter killed by a car bomb is uniting many of the island nation’s squabbling politicians with one notable exception: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, one of her chief targets. The rally Sunday afternoon demands justice in the Oct. 16 slaying of investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia. Malta’s two dominant forces, the ruling Labor and opposition Nationalist parties, will be there but Muscat says he knows her family didn’t want him to attend.

TOKYO (AP) – Media projections indicate a disappointing showing for a new Japanese opposition party that briefly excited voters. Japanese public broadcaster NHK projected after polls closed Sunday that the Party of Hope would win 38 to 59 seats in the 465-seat lower house of parliament.