World briefs: Iran said to ease nuke demands

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VIENNA — Iran has reduced demands for the size of its future nuclear enrichment program in talks with world powers although Western governments are urging Tehran to compromise further, Western diplomats said on Thursday.

The diplomats, speaking at the start of a two- week round of negotiations between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, said it would still be hard to clinch a deal by the self-imposed July 20 deadline.

Tehran's shift relates to the main sticking point in the talks— the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges Iran can maintain in a deal in exchange for a gradual end of sanctions.

Egyptians mark coup

CAIRO — A series of demonstrations and small bombings marked the anniversary on Thursday of the ouster of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, and authorities responded by arresting nearly 200 people as part of their crackdown against Islamists.

Mr. Morsi’s supporters had called for mass protests a year after he was toppled by the military and detained, but the number of demonstrators during the day was mostly in the hundreds, sometimes just dozens - evidence of the reluctance by Islamists to take on the security forces after a months-long crackdown that has killed hundreds and jailed at least 22,000.

Thursday’s demonstrations took place in Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, the oasis province of Fayoum southwest of the capital and several other provinces.

Turkish truck drivers freed

BAGHDAD — Islamic militants released 32 Turkish truck drivers Thursday who they captured during a lightning offensive across northern and western Iraq last month, Turkey’s foreign minister said.

Ahmet Davutoglu said the truck drivers were heading toward the city of Irbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, and would be flown to Ankara in the evening. He said the drivers were well but that one of them may need to undergo a special treatment. He did not elaborate, nor did he provide any details on the circumstances of their release

Militants from the extremist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized the truck drivers in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on June 9. Three days later, they took another 49 people from the Turkish consulate in Mosul.

China, S. Korea hold talks

SEOUL, South Korea — The leaders of China and South Korea sent a strong message to North Korea on Thursday saying they were united in their opposition to the development of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, but they fell short of announcing how they would pursue that goal.

After a three-hour meeting, China’s president, Xi Jinping, and South Korea’s leader, Park Geun-hye, issued a joint statement that smoothed over the differences in approach that have stalled a more aggressive stance toward the unabated development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, and its leader, Kim Jong Un, China’s ally.

Hong Kong leader pelted

HONG KONG — Hong Kong lawmakers on Thursday pelted Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying with objects including a glass of water, while others shouted and held up signs demanding democratic reforms in the former British colony.

The incident within the Legislative Council came a day after hundreds of police dragged pro-democracy activists from the Central business district and arrested more than 500.

The glass did not hit Mr. Leung, but shattered when it hit the floor. Mr. Leung, who nervously sipped water after the incident, accused legislators of using “abusive language” and taking "increasingly radical actions".

Compiled from wire services.

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