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AP Top Political News At 5:39 p.m. EST

US, Cuba cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and Cuba claimed progress Friday toward ending a half-century diplomatic freeze, suggesting they could clear some of the biggest obstacles to their new relationship within weeks....

Obama pitches privacy bill, Democrats say it falls short
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amid "rapid growth" in the collection of data on Americans, the White House on Friday proposed legislation that calls on businesses to do more to help consumers protect their personal information....

GOP contenders push for military action against ISIS
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -- The Republican Party's leading presidential contenders on Friday promised conservative activists they would pursue aggressive military action to prevent the spread of global terrorism, including a renewed use of ground forces in the Middle East....

Santorum wants US ground troops to fight Islamic State group
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) -- Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is considering another presidential run, called for putting 10,000 U.S. troops on the ground to fight the growth of the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State....

Partial shutdown? House rejects Homeland Security funding
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-controlled House unexpectedly rejected short-term funding for the Department of Homeland Security on Friday, increasing the prospect of a partial shutdown at midnight of an agency with major anti-terrorism responsibilities....

Obama mourns passing of Nimoy: 'I loved Spock'
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama said Friday that Leonard Nimoy, who made the sign for "Live long and prosper" famous around the world, achieved that goal during his 83 years on planet Earth....

Some in GOP say Homeland Security funding lapse no big deal
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican leaders eager to avert a partial government shutdown are getting heat from conservative colleagues who ask what the fuss is all about....

Democrats caught between Obama, Netanyahu on speech
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jewish House Democrats personally offered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to lower the political temperature after he accepted a Republican invitation to speak to Congress next week on Iran - a less provocative, closed-door session....

Lawmaker reimbursed costs for lavish office decor
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock repaid $40,000 from his personal checking account for redecorations to his congressional office in the style of the TV show "Downton Abbey," according to financial records reviewed by The Associated Press....

Obama to host new Afghan leaders at White House on March 24
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are to visit the White House next month, and Ghani has accepted an invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress at a time when the Obama administration is weighing whether to slow the pace of U.S. troop withdrawals from the country....

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US, Cuba cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties

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Obama to host new Afghan leaders at White House on March 24

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