World briefs: Progress seen in Iran talks

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VIENNA — After three days of intensive talks with his Iranian counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that “tangible progress” had been made in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, and that he would return to Washington to consult with President Barack Obama over whether to extend a Sunday deadline for a final agreement.

Mr. Kerry said “very real gaps” remained, but his tone — and his acknowledgment that Iran had complied with all of its commitments under a temporary agreement that took effect in January — left little doubt he wanted to extend the talks by weeks or months.

But as the July 20 deadline approaches, an accord is not yet in hand. The temporary agreement allows for an extension of the talks for up to six months.

Iraqi parliament

BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers took a step toward breaking their political deadlock Tuesday, voting for a new parliament speaker in the first step of a government formation process that analysts warn is unfolding too slowly to keep the country from fragmenting along ethnic and sectarian lines.

It remained unclear, however, whether the overwhelming approval of Sunni Muslim politician Salim al-Jubouri, a moderate Islamist with a background in law, as speaker signaled a broader power-sharing deal between the Shiite Muslim political bloc of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite detractors.

Saudis tighten border

ARAR, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia has deployed helicopters and boosted patrols along its 500-mile northern border with Iraq, where it faces security threats from both sides in a deepening sectarian conflict.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up security to prevent attacks from Sunni Islamist militants, who have already seized large swaths of territory in northern and western Iraq, and from Shiite militias who are aligned with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Top EU posts

BRUSSELS— European Union leaders meet on Wednesday to pick the bloc’s new foreign policy chief after choosing Jean-Claude Juncker to head the executive European Commission, but it may take some weeks before other top EU jobs are finally carved up.

The nominations, including other Commission posts as well as the president of the European Council of EU leaders, will shape Europe’s response to challenges from the crisis in Ukraine to a stagnant economy and Britain’s wavering membership of the bloc.

U.K. Cabinet reshuffled

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain shook up his government Tuesday in an effort to present a fresher, less abrasive and more diverse face to voters with the next general election just 10 months away.

Opinion polls suggest that the election will be close and unpredictable. Apparently with that in mind, Mr. Cameron revamped his Cabinet more thoroughly than expected Tuesday, dismissing or moving several prominent men and promoting a number of women.

Google, Novartis pact

ZURICH—Swiss drugmaker Novartis has struck an agreement with Google to develop “smart” contact lenses that would help diabetics to track their blood glucose levels or restore the eye’s ability to focus.

The device for diabetics would measure glucose in tear fluid and send the data wirelessly to a mobile device, Novartis said. The device would allow Novartis to compete in the growing diabetic-tracking market.


— Compiled from wire reports


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