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First published in National News © by

RUSSIA DOMINATES OBAMA EUROPE TRIP

Economic sanctions will remain the primary weapon as the US and its European allies tackle the Ukraine crisis, Obama administration officials said.

They were resisting demands to supply arms to Ukraine, as they seek a diplomatic solution to Russia's aggression.

President Barack Obama travels across the Atlantic next week and will seek a cohesive stance from European leaders unnerved by Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula but cautious about the economic punishment the US says it is willing to unleash if Moscow makes further expansionist moves.

(UKRAINE Protests)

SEARCH CONTINUES FOR MISSING JET

Aircraft and ships from China headed to the desolate southern Indian Ocean to join the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, now lost for two full weeks.

And Australia promised its best efforts to resolve "an extraordinary riddle".

A satellite spotted two large objects in the area earlier this week, raising hopes of finding the Boeing 777 that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

(MALAYSIA Flight)

SPORT RELIEF RAISES RECORD TOTAL

The BBC's Sport Relief TV appeal which included the live reunion of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan and a comedy appearance by David Beckham raised a record £51.2 million.

The fundraising spectacular beat the previous highest on-the-night total of £50.4 million.

The charity marathon on BBC One last night was hosted live for the first time from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London and was kicked off by presenters Gary Lineker and David Walliams.

(SHOWBIZ Relief)

MAN CHARGED IN MCCONVILLE CASE

A veteran republican charged in connection with the IRA murder more than 40 years ago of Belfast mother of 10 Jean McConville is due in court today.

Ivor Bell, 77, is expected to appear before magistrates in Belfast accused of aiding and abetting in the murder as well as membership of the IRA.

He was detained at his home in the Andersonstown district of west Belfast on Tuesday.

(ULSTER McConville)

10 FIRST WORLD WAR VICTIMS NAMED

Relatives have expressed shock and relief after receiving news of the formal identification of 10 soldiers who were killed during the First World War.

The remains of the troops were found during construction work near the French village of Beaucamps-Ligny in 2009 and were identified after their relatives provided DNA samples.

The soldiers were serving with 2nd Battalion The York and Lancaster Regiment and were killed in battle on October 18 1914.

(DEFENCE Soldiers)

SPECIAL DEALS 'SAVE £750 A YEAR'

Britons save nearly £750 a year by taking advantage of rewards points, vouchers and special offers, according to research.

People living in Scotland are the savviest when it comes to taking advantage of special deals, saving £1,019 per year typically, compared with the average across the country of £742, according to a survey for American Express.

Those living in the North West said they save the least through these methods, at £606 on average, according to the research among 2,000 people carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

(MONEY Vouchers)

VODAFONE CELEBRATES 30TH BIRTHDAY

Vodafone is celebrating 30 years since it was first launched as a "new portable and mobile public telecommunications service" - marking the start of the mobile phone revolution in Britain.

Now one of the biggest companies in the world, it was originally part of the Racal Electronics Group, which announced the name of its new venture on March 22 1984, after winning a bid for the private sector UK cellular licence.

In a press release at the time, Racal heralded its "exciting" plans to create a "truly portable and mobile nationwide public telephone network unavailable today".

(CITY Vodafone)

MILIBAND BACKS PENSION FLEXIBILITY

Ed Miliband has attempted to clarify Labour's position on the coalition's radical pension reforms, insisting he backs looser rules.

But Mr Miliband said the party wanted to "scrutinise the detail" before committing to support the changes in Parliament.

The comments came after the Opposition was criticised for a muddled response to George Osborne's Budget proposals, which would stop pensioners being forced to buy annuities and allow them to cash in funds.

(POLITICS Budget)

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