World briefs: U.S., Iran ease their 'cold war'

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TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that President Hassan Rouhani has exchanged letters with President Barack Obama in what may be a further signal that the Iranian leader's victory in June elections has created a chance for intensified diplomacy.

The U.S. and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since Washington ended ties after the seizure of 52 diplomatic personnel in 1979 following the Islamic revolution. Since his election, Mr. Rouhani has said he is interested in improving relations with the rest of the world, including the U.S.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzeiah Afkham, said the exchange of letters was initiated by Mr. Obama, congratulating Mr. Rouhani on his election victory. In response, Ms. Afkham said, Mr. Rouhani "expressed thanks for the congratulations and wrote about some several issues."

Twin storms kill 34

MEXICO CITY -- Two powerful storms gripped Mexico Monday, dumping torrential rains on both coasts, forcing roads and airports to close in several cities and killing at least 34 people.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said two-thirds of Mexican territory and more than 1.2 million people were affected by the storms.

The last time Mexico saw such twin storms simultaneously was in 1958, Mexican media reported.

U.N. investigates N. Korea

GENEVA -- United Nations experts investigating human rights conditions in North Korea said Tuesday that they had gathered "shocking" evidence of widespread abuses and atrocities requiring an international response.

Testimony heard by the three-member Commission of Inquiry about prison camps, torture, starvation and international abductions by North Korean agents suggests "large-scale patterns" of abuse "that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations," the panel's chairman, Michael Donald Kirby, said in a statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Also in the world...

Rebels fighting government forces in Zamboanga City, in the southern Philippines, briefly held its police chief Tuesday, officials said. But he emerged a few hours later with 23 rebels who had agreed to surrender... Bangladesh's top court has sentenced a leader in the country's biggest Islamic party to death over war crimes in 1971, risking a renewal of violence that killed more than 150 people this year as his supporters clashed with police.

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