VOA news: Monday, November 4th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. The United States reaffirms a partnership with Egypt. Pakistani Taliban names an interim chief. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Saudi Arabia– part of a nine-day diplomatic mission to the Middle East and Europe.
Secretary Kerry hopes to strengthen diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia frayed by differences over U.S. policy on Syria and Iran.
He arrived late Sunday in Riyadh for talks with Saudi King Abdullah.
Earlier in the day, Secretary Kerry met with Egyptian civilian and military leaders in Cairo.
VOA’s Scott Stearns reports.
Kerry says it’s no secret that Egypt is going through difficult times following July’s military-backed takeover.
Taking questions from reporters following talks with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Kerry did not mention the former president by name but said it’s important that civilians face civilian justice.
“Minister Fahmy and I agreed on the need to ensure that Egyptians are afforded due process with fair and transparent trials.”
In response to violence that followed the coup that toppled Mr. Morsi, the United States delayed the delivery of some major weapons systems. But Washington is continuing most of its military aid.
Mr. Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood believe the United States is choosing Egypt’s military over its young democracy.
Scott Stearns, VOA news, Cairo.
Security is tight ahead of the trial of Egypt’s deposed President Mohamed Morsi scheduled to open Monday in Cairo.
VOA’s Elizabeth Arrott has more.
Mr. Morsi is charged with inciting murder during clashes outside the presidential palace last year, sparked by his temporary claim of extraordinary powers. Fourteen other senior members of his Muslim Brotherhood and his former government are also being tried. Other charges are pending.
It’s unclear if Mr. Morsi will appear in person or by video link. He’s been held in an undisclosed location since he was toppled by the military July 3rd following mass protests.
A member of his legal team has rejected the court’s jurisdiction.
Ahmed Abdel Gawad says they don’t recognize the legal proceedings. But in conceding the trial would go ahead, he insisted there must be a live, international broadcast of all sessions.
Elizabeth Arrott, VOA news, Cairo.
Iran’s supreme leader gave new support to President Hassan Rouhani’s negotiations with Western nations over the country’s nuclear program.
During a speech to a group of students on Sunday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said no one should consider the negotiators as “compromisers,” and warned that “nobody should weaken” them during what he called a “difficult mission.”
Iranian diplomats will be holding another round of talks later this week in Geneva with negotiators from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
A landmark local election in Kosovo was marred by violence and voter intimidation in a minority Serb-dominated northern region of the majority ethnic Albanian state.
A group of masked men broke into several schools housing polling stations in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica as voting was under way Sunday. They smashed windows and ballot boxes and tore up election materials, forcing authorities to cancel voting for the remainder of the day.
Serbs are voting in Kosovo’s elections for mayors and local councilors.
The Pakistani Taliban named an interim chief after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike.
A Taliban spokesman says he is Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, a leader of the central shura leader.
Pakistan’s government has protested the drone strike that killed Mehsud, saying the U.S. was sabotaging Pakistani peace talks with the domestic Taliban by killing the group’s leader.
The M23 rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have called for a cease-fire after being pushed from one of their last strongholds.
The military has not responded to the call, which comes as rebels are being attacked by government forces near the border with Uganda.
A full solar eclipse passed over Africa Sunday, briefly darkening skies as it moved across the continent.
The full eclipse was only visible along a narrow path in Africa that ended over Ethiopia and Somalia. A partial eclipse was visible far away as eastern North America and southern Europe.
Sunday’s was a rare hybrid eclipse in which the moon completely blocked the sun at times, leaving a ring of the sun visible at others.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. Details on these and other stories are on our website on the Internet at voanews.com.
VOA news: Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. U.S. and Saudi Arabia agree and disagree about Syria. A very brief court appearance for Egypt’s former President Morsi. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal say their countries agree on the goal of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. But they disagree on how best to do that. They held talks in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Monday as we hear from VOA’s Scott Stearns.
U.S. officials traveling with Kerry say Saudi leaders expressed their disappointment at Washington’s decision to back off bombing Syrian military targets in favor of a plan to remove the country’s chemical weapons. For Riyadh, Prince Saud says, intervening militarily is a moral imperative.
“If one is choosing a moral choice to intervene or not to intervene, what is that choice going to be? Do I let the tragedy continue or do I help if I can?”
Kerry said the Obama administration prefers a negotiated solution because the United States does not have “the legal authority or the justification or the desire at this point to get in the middle of a civil war.”
Scott Stearns, VOA news, Riyadh.
Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made his first public appearance since his ouster last July sitting before a criminal court in Cairo Monday. He did not sit very long.
As VOA’s Elizabeth Arrott reports, his moment in the spotlight was brief.
It was over almost as soon as it began. The trial of ousted President Mohamed Morsi was adjourned shortly into the first session, after defendants began chanting in protest. Reports from inside the courtroom say Mr. Morsi, who was deposed by the military after popular protests, rejected the proceedings, telling judges he remained the nation’s legitimate president.
Mr. Morsi and 14 members of his Muslim Brotherhood and former government face charges of inciting murder during protests against him last December. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.
The start of the trial was delayed because Mr. Morsi rejected wearing the traditional white jumpsuit of defendants.
State media says Mr. Morsi’s trial is set to resume January 8th.
Elizabeth Arrott, VOA news, Cairo.
Authorities say about 50 Rohingya Muslims from Burma are feared dead after a boat carrying asylum-seekers capsized off the country’s west coast in the Bay of Bengal Sunday.
So far, only about eight survivors have been rescued. The vessel was headed for Bangladesh when it went down.
Activists say thousands of Rohingya have begun leaving Burma, resuming a dangerous seasonal migration to escape what they say is repression in Burma.
Authorities in Kenya have charged four men in connection with the attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that killed at least 67 people.
The suspects all pleaded not guilty in a Nairobi courtroom Monday.
None of the four being held is accused of being the gunmen who attacked shoppers at the Westgate Mall in September. But they are charged with committing a terrorist act by providing shelter to the alleged gunmen.
Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack.
Fighting between Congolese troops and M23 rebels continued near the Ugandan border on Monday despite calls for a cease-fire from the leader of the rebel group.
U.N. and Congolese officials say four civilians were killed by shelling in the DRC border town.
Pakistan’s government continues to insist that negotiating a peaceful end to the decade-long militant insurgency in the country is the only way to move forward despite a U.S. drone strike that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
Sharon Behn has more.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday renewed his call for peace talks and reintegration as a way of ending the decade-long Taliban insurgency in the country.
According to official media, Prime Minister Sharif has directed his interior minister to consult with political leaders on a way forward. It was crucial, Mr. Sharif said, to be unified.
“We also have to ensure that the political parties, military and the civil society are on the same page so as to create the enabling environment necessary to tackle this menace.”
The Taliban, a network of some 30 militant groups, has nominated Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani as their new interim leader.
Sharon Behan, VOA news, Islamabad.
A Pakistani court granted bail to former President Pervez Musharraf for the 2007 commando raid on a militant mosque that left a cleric and dozens of other people dead.
The ruling brings Mr. Musharraf a step closer to possible release after months under house arrest.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. More at voanews.com.
VOA news: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Locations considered for destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Congo’s M23 declares an end to the rebellion. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
The special coordinator for the joint U.N. mission charged with eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons said she expects to know in no less than two weeks where Syria’s chemical weapons will be destroyed. U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer reports.
Sigrid Kaag said Tuesday there are on-going discussions and negotiations this week at The Hague about where the actual destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons will take place.
“Planning teams for the Syrian authorities, U.N. and OPCW experts are convening to look at the details and the best possible options, of course I presume, will be decided upon, and it will be known by the 15th of November.”
Earlier Tuesday, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Director General Ahmet Üzümcü said the most viable alternative for destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal would be outside the country, due to the on-going armed conflict within its borders.
Margaret Besheer, VOA news, the United Nations.
A date for possible peace talks aimed at ending the ongoing war in Syria is being pushed back with diplomats now hoping they can take place before the end of the year.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi laid out his revised hopes Tuesday after meeting in Geneva with U.S. and Russian officials, along with diplomats from the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
“We are hoping that we would be in a position to announce a date today. Unfortunately, we are not. But we are still striving to see we can have the conference before the end of the year. And, you know, as far as the United Nations is concerned, we are ready and indeed the secretary-general is impatient to get this conference going because the situation in Syria is extremely bad.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing efforts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians in new talks with both sides.
He arrived in Israel late Tuesday seeking to reassure Israel ahead of a series of separate meetings Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier Tuesday during a visit to Poland, Secretary Kerry said legitimate questions about U.S. surveillance efforts should not affect upcoming trade talks between the U.S. and European Union.
Secretary Kerry said Washington and its European allies are all trying to balance the protection and privacy of their citizens.
“Ultimately if we get it right, which we will, we can not only alleviate concerns but we can actually strengthen our intelligence relationships going forward, and we can all be more secure and safer as a result as well as protecting the privacy of citizens.”
Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski says he and Secretary Kerry agreed on closer cooperation between their intelligence services.
A rebel group that has fought the Democratic Republic of Congo government for more 18 months says it is laying down its arms and is ready to negotiate.
The leader of the M23 movement, Bertrand Bisimwa, says the group will demobilize and only pursue its goals through political means.
The move came hours after DRC Congolese government forces pushed rebel fighters from the last two areas in eastern Congo under their control.
Toronto, Canada’s, Mayor Rob Ford apologized to his countrymen after admitting smoking crack cocaine.
Battling tears during a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Ford said he is ashamed and that it will never happen again.
He also said he continues serving as mayor of Canada’s largest city at least until next year’s election.
Mr. Ford initially denied all allegations. He was finally forced to admit trying crack after police obtained video showing the mayor was smoking it.
A coalition of Burmese armed military minority groups agreed to continue a dialogue with the government to try to reach a nationwide cease-fire deal.
Representatives of 17 armed groups and the Burmese government ended two days of talks in northern Kachin state without any concrete agreements. But both sides announced they will keep meeting, beginning next month in the southern state of Karen.
Here in the United States, voters cast ballots in a handful of key elections. The eastern states of New Jersey and Virginia are electing governors. Large and influential cities, including New York, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston and Miami are electing mayors.
U.S. political analysts are looking for clues from the results to help predict the outcome of next year’s congressional elections when all 435 members of the House of Representatives and one third of the nation’s 100 senators face the voters.
I’m Ray Kouguell, VOA news. More at voanews.com.
VOA news: Thursday, November 7th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Another push for Middle East peace. A second round of talks in Iran’s nuclear program about to begin. I’m Ray Kouguell reporting from Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says serious effort is needed from both Israelis and Palestinians to make the “hard decisions” needed to bring about a two-state solution to their decades-long crisis.
Secretary Kerry met separately Wednesday in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
VOA’s Scott Stearns reports.
Three months into what is scheduled to be nine months of peace talks, Kerry says he is confident the sides have the ability to make progress. But there has been little apparent progress toward a two-state solution.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told Kerry that Israel wants peace and Palestinians are the ones delaying an agreement.
“I’m concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid and run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace.”
Scott Stearns, VOA news, Bethlehem.
Swiss forensic scientists say samples taken from the exhumed corpse of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat show unexpectedly high levels of the lethal radioactive isotope polonium-210.
The findings from specialists at the University of Lausanne were released in a 108-page report and posted online by the pan-Arabic television network al-Jazeera. The probe was commissioned jointly by Arafat’s widow, Suha, and the network.
Forensic experts from France and Russia also took samples from Arafat’s corpse in 2012. Moscow says its examination found no traces of polonium, while results from the French analysis have not yet been released.
A senior U.S. official in Geneva is expressing optimism about the talks on Iran’s nuclear program that resume Thursday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says there have been “very detailed discussions” and the two sides are heading towards a first stage agreement.
VOA’s Al Pessin has more.
From what little is known, Iran wants to agree on the ultimate target of the talks and also on a series of intermediate steps designed to build mutual trust and ease economic sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
The United Nations delegation made up of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany and led by the EU wants guarantees that Iran’s nuclear program will not lead to the production of a nuclear bomb.
Analysts believe Iran is already dangerously close to doing that, and the United States and Israel have threatened military action to stop the potential final stages of development.
Al Pessin, VOA news, Geneva.
A series of small explosions struck outside a local Communist Party office in northern China, killing one person and wounding eight others.
Officials in Shanxi province say the apparently homemade bombs went off Wednesday in Taiyuan.
A rebel group in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo started to surrender its weapons Wednesday, a day after the group said it was giving up its fight.
A U.N. representative to Congo declared the end of M23, saying about 15,000 people displaced by recent fighting in the area are coming back home.
France says its timetable for withdrawing troops from Mali remains firm despite an upsurge in violence including the kidnapping and execution of two French journalists.
French and Malian authorities continue to search for the four armed men who grabbed the journalists last Saturday in the northern rebel stronghold of Kidal.
VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Radio France International reports that dozens of people have been arrested in northern Mali in connection with the killing of RFI journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, outside Kidal on Saturday.
The French government says the killings were the work of “terrorist groups.” French newspaper Le Monde is reporting possible links between the kidnappers and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The grabbing of the two journalists came just days after the liberation of four French hostages in neighboring Niger.
Anne Look, Dakar.
The Colombian government and rebel negotiators have reached a fundamental agreement to allow the rebels to take part in national politics once they end their insurgency.
The deal announced Wednesday in Havana is part of the year-long peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC.
FARC has been fighting a 50-year-long guerilla war against the Colombian government.
I’m ay Kouguell, VOA news. More at voanews.com.
VOA news: Friday, November 8th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Iran’s foreign minister says an agreement is possible in Friday’s nuclear talks, and Typhoon Haiyan comes ashore in the Philippines. I’m David Byrd reporting from Washington.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif says an agreement with six world powers to resolve a decade-long standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program is “possible” by end of talks Friday.
As VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the statement came after a tough day of negotiations in Geneva.
A senior U.S. official says the negotiators are working on a “first step” agreement that would freeze, and perhaps roll back, Iran’s nuclear program in return for some limited relief from crippling economic sanctions.
But how much each side would do in this “first step” is still in dispute.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that would give the negotiators more time to work out the complex details of a long-term agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and potentially a full lifting of sanctions.
Experts believe that agreement would have to allow Iran to enrich uranium, but would put limits on the extent of enrichment and provide for inspections to reassure the international community that Iran is not collecting fuel for a nuclear bomb.
Al Pessin, VOA news, Geneva.
For more on this story, please log on to our website www.voanews.com.
The world’s strongest tropical cyclone of the year has begun pounding the central Philippines after President Benigno Aquino ordered mass evacuations to reduce the risk of disaster.
Reports from the islands chain say that Super Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, came ashore before dawn Friday morning.
The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center said prior to landfall, Haiyan had maximum sustained winds of 315 kilometers per hour near its center, with gusts of 380 kilometers per hour.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is critical for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to be reached. Mr. Kerry said “significant progress” was made in recent talks.
At a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Kerry said Israeli and Palestinian leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to peace negotiations, despite what he called clear tensions.
“The purpose is to explore and discuss and examine the various possibilities of how we can resolve very complicated issues in ways that meet the needs of both parties.”
Following his stop in Jordan, Secretary Kerry is due to visit the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.
Ugandan officials say hundreds of M23 rebels from neighboring Congo have surrendered and are in Ugandan custody.
As Hilary Heuler reports from Kampala, about 1,500 fighters are being held on the Congolese border with Uganda.
The Ugandan Defense Ministry says around 1,500 fighters from the Congolese rebel group M23 surrendered to the Ugandan military and are currently being held near the Congolese border.
M23 announced earlier this week that it is abandoning a 20-month insurgency in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after the rebels lost the last of their territory to the Congolese army.
Speaking from the Ugandan capital, Kampala, Ministry of Defense spokesman Paddy Ankunda said the M23 fighters had defected although it was not yet clear what would be done with them.
Last year, the DRC accused both Uganda and Rwanda of supporting M23. Both countries deny the allegations.
Hilary Heuler, for VOA news, Kampala.
The social blogging site, Twitter, debuted Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock opened with the price of 45 dollars and 10 cents, but closed the day at 44.90.
Brian Blau is a consumer technology research director at Gartner Research company. “Twitter really has to make sure that it performed well. Quarter by quarter, they are going to have to show increases in usual engagement and usual growth. Twitter is going to have to show a move towards profitability and reduction in the expenditures that they have.”
Wall Street ended trading down nearly one percent on Thursday. Markets were mixed in Europe.
For more on these stories, please be sure to log on to our website www.voanews.com. I’m David Byrd in Washington.
VOA news: Saturday, November 9th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Still differences to discuss over Iranian nuclear program, and in Somalia, six are killed in a car bombing in Mogadishu. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
In Geneva Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said diplomats are working to see if they can “narrow some differences” with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
“I don’t think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed.”
Kerry spoke shortly after arriving in Geneva to join the talks. Diplomatic sources say Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will join his Western counterparts in Geneva Saturday to try to secure a deal over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Friday that Russia favors a solution that recognizes Iran’s right to have a peaceful nuclear program and enrich uranium under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In Washington, President Barack Obama said the deal being discussed would offer modest relief on the economic sanctions on Iran, but that most would stay in place.
“We can provide them some very modest relief, but keeping the sanctions architecture in place, keeping the core sanctions in place.”
Police in Somalia say a suspected car bomb has exploded outside a hotel in Mogadishu, killing at least six people.
Witnesses say a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives Friday to the gate of the Maka al Mukarama hotel, which is popular with Somali officials, in central Mogadishu.
A government spokesman [said] told VOA’s Somali service that at least 15 people were wounded, including a member of the Somali parliament.
Reports say another explosion was heard in the same area shortly before the attack.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.
Further details at voanews.com.
A new report before the U.S. Congress says Afghan soldiers and police will require more support to sustain the gains made by NATO forces during a troop search two years ago.
In the report, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, there has been a fundamental shift in the fighting in Afghanistan, with Afghan forces now handling 95 percent of the conventional operations and 98 percent of special operations.
However, the report also says when the NATO mission in Afghanistan concludes at the end of 2014, Afghan forces “will be at high risk” unless they receive continued aid and advice from the international community and the international coalition.
President Barack Obama traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, to speak about continuing challenges to U.S. economic growth. With a port of New Orleans as a backdrop, Mr. Obama returned to favorite themes to underscore economic successes and [remained] remaining challenges to the economy.
Successes include 7.8 million jobs added, declining deficits and healthcare costs, a recovered auto industry and a stronger housing market.
Challenges include rebuilding the dilapidated infrastructure, providing more support for the middle class and making investments in education. Another challenge: what Mr. Obama calls the “constant cycle of manufactured crises and self-inflicted wounds” from Washington.
Super typhoon Haiyan is muscling its way across the central Philippines, having already killed at least four people, according to officials.
The most powerful storm to hit the Pacific this year, Haiyan has blown off roofs, uprooted trees, downed power lines and caused other destruction while muscling across the region.
Officials say at least seven other persons are injured. Due to a lack of communications, the full extent of the damage and casualties will be unclear for some time.
Uganda says the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government will sign a peace deal on Monday with rebel group M23, which gave up its fight this week.
The U.S. labor market once again added 204,000 jobs in October, defying economists’ predictions that last month’s partial government shutdown would slow down hiring.
Madagascar’s electoral commission says its presidential election will go to a runoff vote after no candidate received an outright majority in the first round last month.
The Olympic torch is taking a slight detour on its trip from Greece to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Games. This Saturday, it will spend some time in space. Russian cosmonauts will carry the torch outside the International Space Station as they begin a six-hour maintenance mission.
For all the latest news, visit us at voanews.com 24 hours a day. I’m Vincent Bruce, VOA news, reporting from the VOA news center in Washington.
VOA news: Sunday, November 10th, 2013
From Washington, this is VOA news. Forecasters say Typhoon Haiyan is now headed toward Vietnam. No new developments in discussions about Iran’s nuclear program. I’m Vincent Bruce reporting from Washington.
The Philippine Red Cross is saying at least 1,200 people may have been killed by the super typhoon that plowed to the central Philippines Friday. The official death toll released by the Philippine government on Saturday is 138.
Red Cross officials believe at least 1,000 people of the dead are on Leyte island with another 200 killed on nearby Samar island.
Philippine Interior Secretary Mar Roxas describes the scene.”devastation is– I don’t have the words for it. It’s really horrific. It’s a great human tragedy. There is no power, there is no light.”
A United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination Team flying over found “scenes of total devastation,” with the area reachable only by helicopter.
Recent reports now indicate the powerful typhoon is heading towards Vietnam after wreaking havoc on the Philippines.
Weather forecasters say Typhoon Haiyan is in the South China Sea and is expected to hit Vietnam’s coast late Sunday.
Little, if any updates, in negotiations between European and Iranian foreign ministers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva Saturday over the future of Iran’s nuclear program and international sanctions designed to curb it.
VOA’s Al Pessin has a report.
Officials have given few details of the negotiations, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius broke the news blackout Saturday in an interview with France Inter radio.
Minister Fabius says the contact group wants Iran to delay activation of its new reactor at Arak expected to come online next year. He said the team also wants Iran to reduce the purity of some of its stock of highly enriched uranium.
Fabius says Iran wants significant relief from the sanctions and the contact group is insisting that Iran’s concessions be of the same magnitude.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters the talks have made real progress, but there is no guarantee of success.
Al Pessin, VOA news, Geneva.
A spokesman for Syria’s opposition leaders says his group has not yet made a final decision whether to participate in a peace conference 10tatively to be held in Geneva.
VOA’s Edward Yeranian has a report.
Leaders of the opposition Syrian National Coalition met privately and in closed session at an Istanbul hotel, trying to establish a united position with respect to the proposed peace conference in Geneva under U.N. auspices. The attendance of both Iran and embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have opposition leaders divided over whether to attend or not.
A number of top opposition leaders continue to insist that they will not participate unless President Assad promises to step down, and if Iran attends the conference. Mr. Assad has not only refused to offer to step down, but he insists that he will run for re-election in 2014.
Edward Yeranian, for VOA news, Cairo.
The United States has Christened its next-generation aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.
Rolf Bartschi, the project manager for Newport News, Virginia, Shipbuilding, where the ship was Christened on Saturday, told VOA the ship’s most prominent and new feature is its dependence on electromagnet energy, rather than steam, to more gently and precisely launch and land aircraft on its flight deck.
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed won the most votes in Saturday’s Presidential election on the Indian Ocean islands, but not enough to avoid a runoff.
All sides agreed that a runoff would be held Sunday. But Abdulla Yameem, who finished 2nd in Saturday’s balloting, is now demanding a postponement saying he needs more time to study voter lists.
Further details, excuse me, further delays risk sending the country into a constitutional crisis because the next President is due to be inaugurated on Monday, November 11th.
U.S. President Barack Obama says it is time for the United States to revise its policies against Cuba.
Mr. Obama, speaking in Miami Friday, said it did not make sense that policies put in place more than 50 years ago would still be effective in the Internet age.
The President pointed out that Cuban leader Fidel Castro came into power in 1961, the same that year Obama was born. The United States cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba the same year.
More details at voanews.com, 24 hours a day. I’m Vincent Bruce, VOA news in Washington.
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