ROME -- In what some see as a worrying reversal, political dysfunction appears to be capable of snuffing out the sparks of economic revival in Europe.
After its voters this week denied any party enough backing to form a credible new government, Italy joined Greece in preventing establishment parties from achieving anything like the mandate they would need to push through painful changes, inviting a new wave of financial instability.
In Italy, the surprise success of the Five-Star Movement, founded by the comedian Beppe Grillo, has dashed hopes that the recent calm in financial markets was anything but a brief pause in the European debt crisis.
On Tuesday, Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of Italy's left-wing Democratic Party, called on the Five-Star Movement to work with others to govern the country, rather than just calling for the existing politicians to go home.
The Democratic Party managed a relatively strong showing, finishing first in the lower house, but it did not win enough seats for a majority in the senate.
Talks with Iran resume
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Talks between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., over its nuclear program resumed on Tuesday after a break of eight months, but there was a general atmosphere of gloom about their prospects for success, even if narrowly defined.
The first plenary session ended after about 21/2 hours with no indication of when the negotiators would resume their discussions.
Since talks in Moscow last June, Iran has continued to increase its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity, has begun to install a new generation of centrifuges and has not yet completed an agreement on inspection of suspect military sites with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
U.S., Russia discuss Syria
BERLIN -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Barack Obama's second term will be "constructive" after he held his first meeting with newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin.
Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov discussed trying to end the conflict in Syria as the parties prepare for an international meeting in Rome on Thursday aimed at resolving the crisis.
U.K. seeks news blackout
LONDON --The British government sought Tuesday to limit the information it would disclose at a planned inquest into the death of Alexander V. Litvinenko, a former officer in Russa's KGB who succumbed to radiation poisoning in London more than six years ago.
The inquest would be the first -- and probably the only -- public forum where witnesses would testify under oath about the killing, which strained Britain's relationship with the Kremlin and kindled memories of the Cold War.
The prospect of a postponement brought accusations from Ben Emmerson, a lawyer representing Litvinenko's widow, Ms. Marina Litvinenko, that the British government was trying to gag the inquiry to protect lucrative trade deals with Russia.
Also in the world ...
Gunmen shot and killed a police officer Tuesday who was protecting a team of polio workers during a U.N.-backed vaccination campaign in northwestern Pakistan. ... President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines on Tuesday ordered a group of armed Filipinos holed up in Malaysian Borneo to return home and said their leader could be criminally charged for inciting war.