World briefs: Iran may seek breakthrough

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Hassan Rohani's Sunday appointment of Mohammad Javad Zarif as his foreign minister suggests the new Iranian president would like to break the 34-year impasse between the Islamic Republic and the U.S.

Mr. Zarif, 53, who earned his doctorate at the University of Denver, is a former ambassador to the United Nations who has been involved in several secret negotiations between the U.S. and Iran over the past 20 years.

"He'll be an excellent face for Iran, but his ability to steer policy depends on what latitude the Supreme Leader gives him," said Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan who has met Mr. Zarif on several occasions. "Iran's condition is an excellent reason for diplomacy."

Mr. Rohani, 64, who took his oath of office Sunday, said the U.S. and the European Union should drop sanctions imposed to stop the country's nuclear enrichment program. Over the past year, the sanctions have crippled Iran's economy, sending inflation above 40 percent while the rial has lost more than 50 percent of its value against the dollar.

U.S. official visits Islamist

CAIRO -- A top U.S. diplomat held talks with a jailed senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday as part of mediation efforts to end the standoff between Egypt's military-backed government and protesters supporting ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian officials said.

The talks between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Khairat el-Shater, the powerful deputy head of the Brotherhood, took place in the prison where the Islamist figure is being held, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

The government officials did not say why Mr. Burns and the other diplomats visited Mr. el-Shater, who was widely believed along with the Brotherhood's spiritual leader Mohammed Badie to be the source of real power during Mr. Morsi's one year in power.

Italy respite threatened

BERLIN -- Italian government instability following the tax-fraud conviction of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi threatens to end a lull in the European debt crisis and derail an economic recovery.

"As signs of economic recovery in the eurozone start to emerge, the political climate is deteriorating markedly," Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London, wrote in a note to clients Sunday. "From an economic standpoint, the instability couldn't be happening at a worse time."

Deadly Philippines blast

MANILA, Philippines -- A homemade bomb exploded on a busy street in a southern Philippine city Monday, killing six people and injuring 29, officials said.

The dead included a police intelligence officer and an escort of Cotabato City administrator Cynthia Guiani Sayadi, whose convoy was passing by when the bomb exploded, police said.

Dairy giant apologizes

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- The New Zealand dairy producer Fonterra apologized Monday for distress caused by the contamination of batches of a milk formula ingredient with a potentially toxic strain of bacteria.

Three batches of whey protein concentrate, totaling 38 metric tons, tested positive for Clostridium botulinum, the company said. The bacterium can cause botulism, a rare and sometimes fatal illness. Fonterra, one of the world's largest dairy exporters, said eight customers had been affected.

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