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Framework nearly in place on Tehran nuclear accord

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

TEHRAN — Iran and Western negotiators on Tuesday reported they were nearing an understanding on the details of implementing the landmark interim nuclear accord reached between Tehran and world powers in November.

The nuclear accord puts strong limits on Iran's uranium enrichment program in return for an easing of some international sanctions on Tehran for six months while a permanent deal is negotiated. The United States and its allies believe Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon, a claim that Tehran denies, saying it is intended only for peaceful purposes.

A member of the Iranian negotiating team, Hamid Baidinejad, said the sides had “achieved a mutual understanding” and that implementation of the accord would begin in January, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.


PM calls on Sunnis not to leave government

BAGHDAD — Iraq's Shiite prime minister called on his Sunni political rivals Tuesday not to withdraw from the government and parliament over the dismantling of a protest camp that led to deadly clashes in a major western city, as he sought to contain Sunni unrest in the country.

More than 40 Sunni lawmakers submitted their resignations and Sunni ministers threatened to withdraw from the cabinet over the unrest in the western province of Anbar. Seven gunmen and three police officers were killed in clashes on Monday as security forces took down tents and cleared a Sunni sit-in in its provincial capital, Ramadi.

Sunnis have been staging protests since last December against what they consider as second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government and against tough anti-terrorism measures they say target their sect. The government and some tribal leaders in Anbar accused the protests of offering shelter for al-Qaida local branch to recruit people and plan for attacks.


Priest seized by Islamist radicals released

PARIS — A French priest kidnapped by Islamic radicals in northern Cameroon in November after ignoring danger warnings has been set free, President Francois Hollande's office said Tuesday.

Georges Vandenbeusch was kidnapped by heavily armed men on Nov. 13 in the far north of Cameroon, about 18 miles from the border with Nigeria. There was never a claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram which operates in the area, the Koza region, or on Ansaru, a Boko Haram splinter group responsible for most kidnappings of foreigners there.

nortH korea

Leader says execution boosted national unity

PYONGYANG — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday boasted of a surge of internal strength in the new year because of the elimination of “factionalist filth” — a reference to his once powerful uncle and mentor, whose purge and execution last month have raised questions about the country's stability.

Kim's comments in a New Year's message, including those focusing on one of the biggest political developments in Pyongyang in years, and certainly since the young leader took power two years ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, will be closely scrutinized by outside analysts and governments for clues about the opaque country's intentions and policy goals.

North Korea's “resolute” action to “eliminate factionalist filth” within the ruling Workers' Party has bolstered the country's unity “by 100 times,” Kim said in a speech broadcast by state TV.

— From wire reports

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