World briefs: U.S. seeks 'proof of life'

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WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that the United States is looking for "proof of life" for a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran seven years ago during a visit that, according to several news organizations, was overseen by officials at the CIA.

The Obama administration hasn't given up trying to secure the release of Robert Levinson, Mr. Kerry said on ABC's "This Week."

"To suggest that we've abandoned him, or anybody has abandoned him, is simply incorrect and not helpful," Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Kerry said the U.S. believes Iran "has the ability to help us here. We're looking for proof of life."

Iran 'committed' to talks

WASHINGTON -- Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic is committed to reaching an accord over nuclear activities even as the U.S. seeks to punish companies for possibly violating sanctions.

Mr. Zarif, in an interview today on CBS's "Face the Nation" television program, said it was "a very wrong move" for the U.S. government to freeze assets of companies doing business with Iran while a deal aimed at keeping his country from developing nuclear weapons is being pursued.

"We are committed to the implementation of the plan of action that we adopted in Geneva," Mr. Zarif said. "But we believe that it takes two to tango."

High-level talks in Vienna between six countries and Iran were disrupted after the Treasury Department on Dec. 12 said it was freezing assets and banning transactions of entities that attempt to evade the sanctions, including by doing business with the National Iranian Tanker Co., Iran's primary shipper of crude oil.

Bachelet wins big in Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Michelle Bachelet won a landslide victory in Chile's presidential election today after pledging to increase corporate taxes to finance free education for all.

Ms. Bachelet, who was president from 2006 to 2010, had 62.2 percent of the vote with 99.6 percent of the ballots counted, according to Chile's electoral service. Ruling-alliance candidate Evelyn Matthei had 37.8 percent. Both Ms. Matthei and current President Sebastian Pinera congratulated Ms. Bachelet, who is the first to win a second term since the return to democracy in 1990.

Saudi prince blasts Obama

MONACO -- An influential Saudi prince blasted the Obama administration Sunday for indecision and a loss of credibility with allies in the Middle East, saying that American efforts to secure a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians would founder without a clear commitment from President Barack Obama.

"We've seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white," said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia.

Also in the world ...

Tunisia's political parties agreed on the selection of a new prime minister late Saturday, breaking months of political deadlock between the Islamist-led government and secular opposition parties. ... An Israeli soldier was killed Sunday evening by shots fired over the border from Lebanon, the Israeli military reported, prompting the Israeli army to fire at a Lebanese military post in retaliation.

-- Compiled from news services



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