Koenig's International News
Washington: 3:11:39 pm - November 21, 2014 - Jerusalem: 10:11:39 pm - Heshvan 28, 5775

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UN calls for flexibility in Iran
talks as Kerry, Zarif meet

Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif, former EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and John Kerry
(photo: AFP/POOL, Ronald Zak)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged world powers and Iran to show flexibility in last-ditch negotiations to reach a deal on addressing concerns over Tehran’s nuclear program.

At the same time, top diplomats from the US, Iran and Europe wrapped up a trilateral meeting as diplomatic efforts for a pact before Monday’s deadline ramped up.

Ban said a deal on Iran’s nuclear capacities would contribute to world peace and security “at a time when global cooperation is needed more than ever.”

Kerry to leave nuke talks as Iran ponders next step

US Secretary of State John Kerry decided Friday to pull back from nuclear talks in Vienna, leaving Iran’s foreign minister to ponder an apparent new proposal from Washington meant to bridge differences standing in the way of a deal with less than four days to deadline.

Iranian officials and media initially said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was also departing Friday, to Tehran to consult after meeting with Kerry earlier in the day. But the official IRNA news agency later quoted an unidentified Iranian nuclear negotiator in Vienna as saying Zarif was staying “and the talks will continue.”

Hamas cell caught planning to assassinate Avigdor Liberman

(photo: Flash90)

Israeli forces foiled a Palestinian plan to assassinate Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman during the summer war with Gaza, the Shin Bet security service said Thursday night.

A group of Hamas members from near Bethlehem in the West Bank planned to purchase a rocket-propelled grenade, which would be shot at Liberman, who lives in an Israeli settlement in the area, the Shin Bet said. The IDF, police and Shin Bet were involved in stymieing the plan, according to an official statement.

Residents in western New York call snow worst in memory

(photo: Reuters, Aaron Lynett)

Fresh snow fell on Thursday in snowbound western New York, where longtime residents described the blast of winter weather as the worst in memory. At least eight deaths were blamed on the storm.

Some areas of New York state along the Great Lakes had nearly 2 feet (60 cm) of new snow on top of accumulations as high as 5 feet (1.5 metres) from earlier in the week. The National Weather Service said parts of the region could expect 3 feet (9O cm) more snow before skies clear on Friday.

"I've been in a lot of snowstorms, and this is by far the worst. There's been more snow in the shortest period of time I've ever seen," said Chuck Specht, 58, who reported 7 feet (2.1 metres) of snow at his house in Marilla, New York.

Kerry meets key mediator as signs
point to nuke talks extension

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Oman Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi
(photo: AP)

US Secretary of State John Kerry held an unexpected second meeting in two days with a key Arab mediator in the Iran nuclear talks, part of a last-minute push to meet a Monday deadline for a deal that would ease the threat of the Islamic Republic reaching the capability to produce atomic weapons.

Despite the diplomatic efforts, signs increasingly pointed to a further extension in negotiations.

Kerry met Wednesday at his hotel with Yusuf bin Alawi, the foreign minister of Oman, a key go-between in discussions between Washington and Tehran, a senior US official said. Bin Alawi was in Tehran last weekend and met with Kerry Tuesday. Their follow-up meeting was unannounced, confirmed only after an Associated Press reporter saw the foreign minister in the hotel.

Nuclear watchdog says Iran
still evasive on nuke issues

The head of International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that Iran has failed to provide explanations in response to allegations about aspects of its nuclear research that could be used for making atomic bombs.

“I call upon Iran to increase its cooperation with the agency and to provide timely access to all relevant information, documentation, sites, material and personnel,” IAEA director general Yukiya Amano told a meeting of the organizations’s 35-nation board of governors, Reuters reported.

Netanyahu to present ‘softened’ Jewish state bill

Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
(photo: Amit Shabi, POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present to a full cabinet vote on Sunday a “softened” version of a controversial bill that would enshrine Israel’s Jewish status in its constitutional laws.

The new draft would seek to define Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state, which upholds the rights of all its citizens under law.”

Fear of terrorists pervades mood in Jerusalem

(photo: Reuters)

As a group of young Jewish men danced and sang Am Yisrael Chai while hoisting Israeli flags in downtown Jerusalem’s Zion Square Wednesday afternoon, several nearby residents and visitors to the capital expressed pronounced fear and uncertainty following the Har Nof massacre a day earlier.

Ofer, an Israeli in his 30s who asked that his last name not be published, said he is unable to walk the streets without a foreboding sense of dread.

“I’m not feeling good about yesterday because when I walk outside I now look in every direction – in front, behind, to my sides,” he said... I feel fear. I think [the violence] will stop at some point, but it’s very difficult to stop. And even if it does, it will start again.”

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