BBC news with Jonathan Wheatley

A winter storm is causing major disruption along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, and states of emergency have been declared in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. Rajini Vaidyanathan reports from Washington.

The snow has started to fall here in the nation's capital and across the east coast. A severe weather storm is forecast. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the next 24 hours for major cities including New York and Boston, predicting between 40 and 50cm of snow and winds of more than 55km/h. Hundreds of flights have been grounded at airports, including at New York's JFK, Newark, Washington DC and Boston. Both international and domestic services are affected.

The party of the would-be president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, has called for a general strike from Monday until the incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo steps down. A party statement said "We should not let them steal our victory." Both men say they won Ivory Coast's presidential election, but Mr Gbagbo has held on to day-to-day power, despite international appeals to him to leave office.

There have been clashes between armed Christian and Muslim groups in the central Nigerian city of Jos less than two days after bombings killed 32 people. Security forces dispersed the crowds, and there's no official word on casualties, but witnesses reported several dead bodies. Jos, in Nigeria's Plateau state, has been at the heart of ethnic and religious hostility in recent years. But the Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Ben Kwashi, told the BBC Friday's bomb blasts were nothing to do with religion. He blamed the international media for inflaming tensions.

"One bomb went off in a beer parlour, another bomb went off near a church, and the other bomb went off near the market. These are public places and have nothing to do with religion. These are CRIminal issues. We have worked very hard with religious leaders in Jos to work together and we were gaining ground until this one."

The Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said Israel will not apologise to Turkey for a military raid on an aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip in which nine activists were killed. It was Turkey who should apologise, Mr Lieberman said, for supporting terror, including the IHH, the Turkish organisation which sent the ship to Gaza.

"On the apology issue, this borders on rudeness and is even beyond rudeness. If anyone has to apologise, it is the Turkish government to Israel for its cooperation with terror entities for supporting terror, for supporting the IHH, Hamas and Hezbollah. There will be no apology, and if there was to be one, it would be from the Turkish government and not the other way around."

World news from the BBC

Prosecutors in the Netherlands say they've cleared five of the 12 Somali men arrested on Friday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. The men were detained in Rotterdam after Dutch intelligence reports indicated an attack might be imminent. Officials said there was no CRIminal evidence against the five.

In Ukraine, the former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko has been detained as part of a winding investigation into allegations of abuse of office and diverting public funds. The opposition says this inquiry is a political vendetta launched by President Viktor Yanukovych against members of the previous government. The former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is also under investigation. David Stern now reports from Kiev.

According to Yuri Lutsenko's press service, 11 security agents seized the former interior minister when he was walking his dog on Sunday afternoon. Authorities had opened a CRIminal case against Mr Lutsenko earlier this month for abuse of power. He's the latest and so far highest-profile member of Yulia Tymoshenko's government to be arrested. Mrs Tymoshenko herself saw two separate charges filed against her this last week for misuse of funds and abuse of power when she was prime minister one year ago.

The Sri Lankan government says 200 former Tamil Tiger rebels it is holding in custody have passed A-level exams, normally taken at the age of 18. They are among 5,000 former rebels the authorities say they are still holding following the Tamil Tiger's defeat last year. However, human rights groups have denied that those sitting in the exam are former fighters at all.

Researchers say they've sequenced most of the genetic code of a type of cocoa plant, used in making high-quality chocolate, meaning they might be able to improve its resistance to disease. The French group said they'd found almost 29,000 genes for the Criollo variety of cocoa. Criollos produce low yields and are very vulnerable to fungal disease.

BBC World Service News

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