World briefs: Iran marks republic's birth

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TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani marked the anniversary of the founding of the Islamic republic on Tuesday with a mix of defiance and moderation, telling a huge crowd of Iranians that "no single political faction can rule the country, and all political groups must have a share in running the country."

Mr. Rouhani was elected last June after campaigning as a reformer who could heal the country's internal divisions and ease its international isolation.

At the same time, a week before the next round of negotiations with world powers over Iran's controversial nuclear program, Mr. Rouhani was also resolute about the country's right to develop its own energy sources and, separately, to protect itself.

Tehran says its nuclear-energy program is peaceful and permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the West and some Arab nations fear that Iran is trying to launch a clandestine weapons program.

Talks off to a slow start

GENEVA -- Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. mediator for Syria, brought opposition and government representatives together Tuesday for their first face-to-face meeting in the current round of peace talks. He said the talks were "laborious" and so far unfruitful.

After meeting with the delegations separately Monday, Mr. Brahimi sought direct talks on measures to end the violence, a move that complemented the continuing efforts by aid agencies in Syria to complete the evacuation of civilians from the Old City in Homs, taking advantage of an extended cease-fire that is scheduled to last until today.

Report on Benghazi attack

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, was "woefully vulnerable" before the deadly 2012 attack by militants, according to a report by House Republicans on the incident that blames the Obama administration for failing to beef up security.

The report, released Tuesday by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, contains few new revelations about the Benghazi attack, which has sparked a long-running partisan battle.

It debunks one of the persistent claims about the response to the incident: that the U.S. military was ordered to "stand down" instead of going to the aid of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed along with another American when attackers stormed the facility and set it on fire.

Belgium's right-to-die law

BRUSSELS -- Belgium, one of the very few countries where euthanasia is legal, is expected to take the unprecedented step this week of abolishing age restrictions on who can ask to be put to death -- extending the right to children for the first time.

Under current law, teenagers, for example, must let nature take its course or wait until they turn 18, and then they can ask to be euthanized.

Also in the world ...

Dozens more masterpieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were discovered Monday in a second home belonging to the elderly German recluse whose Munich apartment yielded an astonishing trove of more than 1,400 artworks, including some believed plundered by the Nazis. ... A 3-year-old girl in Kabul, Afghanistan, has contracted polio, the first confirmed case in the capital in 12 years, health officials said Tuesday. Afghanistan is one of only three countries where polio is still endemic, and it has been inching closer to its goal of eradicating the disease.


-- Compiled from news services


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