The funeral service of Nelson Mandela could be a "trap" for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani because he could run into US President Barack Obama, a hardline Iranian daily warned Sunday. Hardline newspaper Kayhan warned in an editorial that if Rouhani attends it could bring him face to face with Obama, "head of the Great Satan government". "Some domestic and foreign media outlets are using the funeral ceremony as a pretext to push Rouhani towards a meeting with the head of the Great Satan government," Kayhan said. Since then there has been a thaw in ties between Iran and world powers. More »Mandela funeral could 'trap' Rouhani: Iran media
Experts from Iran and the six major powers overseeing a landmark interim nuclear agreement will meet Monday in Vienna to discuss its implementation with UN inspectors, an Iranian negotiator said. "On Monday, we will have another expert-level meeting with the six countries and (EU foreign policy chief Catherine) Ashton's team," Iran's lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying Sunday by the ISNA news agency. In November, Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany -- reached a historic agreement in which Tehran is to curb its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The accord was aimed at buying time for a comprehensive agreement to reassure Western nations that Iran's nuclear programme is not aimed at developing atomic weapons. More »Iran nuclear talks planned for Monday in Vienna
Soweto (South Africa) (AFP) - In death, as in life, Nelson Mandela has united a nation. But his legacy of tolerance and racial harmony is sorely tested by the tough realities of life in today's South Africa. Across the Rainbow Nation, from towns on the shimmering Indian Ocean to cities on the sprawling Highveld, South Africans of all creeds and colours prayed in memory of their hero on Sunday. Amid the pangs of sorrow, Mandela's death has rekindled that same spirit of unity that two decades before allowed South Africa to avert bloody racial violence and all out civil war. More »South Africans united in grief but anxious of future
Dimitar Berbatov inspired Fulham to a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa on Sunday that revived the London club's hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League. The Bulgarian forward, linked with a January transfer window move away from Craven Cottage, set up Fulham's opening goal for Steve Sidwell and then scored their second from the penalty spot. For Fulham, who hadn't previously scored two goals at home all season, victory saw them climb one place into 18th spot but remain in the relegation zone. Rene Meulensteen's first win as Fulham manager -- and the club's first clean sheet since October 5 -- gave the Cottagers a tally of 13 points. More »Berbatov leads Fulham to key win over Villa
A wave of bombings mostly targeting Shiite areas in and around Baghdad killed at least 35 people Sunday as surging violence spurs concerns Iraq is falling back into all-out conflict. At least 13 bombs exploded from around mid-day (0900 GMT) across Baghdad province, targeting mostly Shiite areas. The deadliest of the violence hit Al-Amil and Bayaa neighbourhoods in south Baghdad, with separate bombings killing five people in each area. Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan gave a far lower toll for the Baghdad violence, saying three people were killed and 10 wounded. More »Baghdad area bombings kill 35
Sunday's inspection comes just weeks after Iran clinched a landmark deal with world powers under which it will freeze or curb some of its nuclear activities in return for limited relief from crippling international sanctions. The interim six-month accord struck in Geneva on November 24 aims to build trust and buy time for diplomacy to solve the decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear work. Quoted by the ISNA news agency, senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi said Tehran and the so-called P5+1 group -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany -- are to start discussions on implementation of the deal in Vienna. The Arak reactor has been one of several sticking points, with UN Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend work there. More »UN experts inspect Iran's Arak nuclear plant
Durban (South Africa) (AFP) - Batting prodigy Quinton de Kock hit his second successive century to set up a convincing, series-clinching 134-run win for South Africa in the second one-day international against India at Kingsmead on Sunday. De Kock made 106 in a South African total of 280 for six in a match reduced to 49 overs a side after a late start because of a wet outfield. India lost four early wickets against the South African fast bowlers and limped to 146 all out, enabling South Africa to clinch the three-match series with a game to spare. Lonwabo Tsotsobe took four for 25 and Dale Steyn three for 17 as India, the world's top-ranked one-day team, were humiliated for the second time in four days. More »De Kock leads S. Africa to ODI series win over India
The Philippine government and Muslim rebels on Sunday signed a crucial power sharing accord, paving the way for a final peace agreement aimed at ending a decades-long insurgency that has killed tens of thousands. The power sharing annex had been considered highly contentious, with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels seeking greater authority over a proposed autonomous region in the south which will cover Muslim-dominated regions of this mainly-Catholic archipelago of 100 million. The accord, signed by negotiators from the government and MILF representatives in Kuala Lumpur, is yet another step towards finally ending the bloody insurgency in the southern Philippines. A joint statement said both sides had signed "the agreement on the delineation and sharing of power between the central government and the Bangsamoro (Filipino Muslim) Government" within the projected autonomous area. More »Philippines, Muslim rebels sign 'power sharing' accord
South Africans of all races and religions united in an outpouring of prayer and song for their beloved Nelson Mandela on Sunday, hearing calls to keep his dream of a Rainbow Nation alive. In a statement Mandela's family implored this still deeply scarred nation, and people beyond its shores, to "keep his dream alive." From a Methodist Church in Johannesburg, President Jacob Zuma echoed that sentiment in an impassioned plea. "He preached and practised reconciliation, to make those who had been fighting forgive one another and become one nation," Zuma told a mixed race congregation of more than 1,000 worshippers. More »South Africa unites in prayer and song for Mandela
Two long-time parliamentary allies are distancing themselves from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ahead of April elections, accusing him of a deeply flawed security policy and nepotism. The allegations by key Maliki supporters Izzat Shabander and Sami al-Askari echo those of the Shiite premier's opponents, who charge that heavy-handed tactics by the police and army against Iraq's Sunni Arab minority have fuelled a sharp escalation of violence this year. First elected premier in 2006, Maliki retained the post in 2010, buoyed by a sharp decline in unrest that followed a military offensive he ordered against the militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in 2008. Critics say Maliki should have realised that heavy-handed tactics such as mass arrests and the closing off of entire neighbourhoods were alienating Sunni Arabs. More »Iraq PM's allies distance themselves as polls loom
Benghazi (Libya) (AFP) - One person was killed and five wounded on Sunday when a car blew up in a cemetery in Libya's increasingly volatile second city Benghazi, security and medical sources said. The explosion, after the funeral of a police officer killed in a similar blast, killed one of the car's passengers, security spokesman Ibrahim al-Sharaa said. Libya has seen growing lawlessness since the 2011 uprising in which rebels toppled and killed long-ruling dictator Moamer Kadhafi. In Benghazi, the cradle of the revolt, militants have targeted security forces and foreign missions, including in a September 11, 2012 assault on the US consulate that killed the ambassador and three other Americans. More »Libya cemetery blast kills one
British Prime Minister David Cameron will attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa next week and Prince Charles will attend the funeral several days later, officials said on Sunday. As expected, Queen Elizabeth II will not make the journey, although she has expressed how "deeply saddened" she was by the former South African president's death on Thursday. The monarch, 87, has begun cutting down her long-distance foreign trips, and asked her son and heir Charles to represent her at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka last month. "Her Majesty The Queen will be formally represented at the funeral of Nelson Mandela by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on Sunday 15th December in Qunu, South Africa," said a statement from Buckingham Palace. More »Cameron to attend Mandela memorial, Prince Charles the funeral
Gulf Cooperation Council states must be part of the negotiations between major world powers and Iran, oil-rich Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief said on Sunday. Iran and major powers broke through a decade of gridlock on November 24 to agree an interim deal that would freeze parts of Iran's controversial nuclear programme while easing some of the crippling international sanctions against it. Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, Shiite Iran's arch-foe across the Gulf, had cautiously welcomed the deal. "I suggest that the negotiations on Iran not be limited to the P5+1" comprising the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany, Prince Turki al-Faisal said. More »Saudi ex-spy chief says Gulf states must join Iran talks
Egypt said on Sunday it has recovered a statue of pharaoh Tutankhamun's sister looted from the southern Mallawi museum during riots by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The 32 centimetre (12.6 inches) limestone statue of Ankhesamon, sister of the famous boy king and daughter of pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled around 1,500 BC, was stolen on August 14. "The piece is one of the most important in the museum," said antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a statement. Authorities have recovered 800 of the 1,050 artefacts stolen from the museum in southern Egypt during nationwide riots on August 14 after police clashed with Islamists in Cairo, he added. More »Statue of pharaoh Tutankhamon's sister recovered
Syrian regime forces made gains Sunday in the key town of Nabuk, one of the last rebel-held areas in the Qalamoun region bordering Lebanon, a watchdog said. "There is fierce fighting in Nabuk between government forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, and Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The monitor, which relies on activists and medics on the ground for its information, said President Bashar al-Assad's troops have taken "new sectors of the town". "The Syrian army is continuing to rake orchards in Nabuk, and has discovered a terrorist lair containing medical equipment and drugs," state television said. More »Syria regime forces 'advance in Lebanon border region'
MPs lined up on Sunday to condemn plans by an independent body to grant them an 11-percent pay rise, embarrassed at how such largesse will be perceived at a time of deep public spending cuts. But they have little power over the issue, after members of parliament (MPs) delegated salary decisions to a body of unelected officials in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is expected to recommend this week that MPs' pay rises from Â£66,396 to Â£74,000 a year after the 2015 election. But Danny Alexander, the second most senior minister in the Treasury, on Sunday denounced the proposed 11-percent increase as "wholly inappropriate". More »MPs condemn 11-percent pay rise
Anti-Muslim insults were found on the walls of a mosque in northern Israel on Sunday, a police spokeswoman said. "Insults against Islam... were found on Sunday morning on the walls of a mosque in Baqa al-Gharbiyeh," she said. Israel and the West Bank have seen a wave of "price tag" attacks, a euphemism for hate crimes by Jewish extremists which often involve vandalism and in some cases physical injury. More »Hebrew insults daubed on mosque walls in northern Israel
Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday he would be prepared to meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, even though their two countries consider each other arch-enemies. More »Israel president 'ready to meet Iran counterpart'
The leader of the world's Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, paid tribute to Nelson Mandela's courage on Sunday at a special church service for the anti-apartheid icon in London. "Great injustice is overcome only by great courage. That means struggle, and struggles demand courage," Welby said in a sermon at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square. "Nelson Mandela showed his courage by his determination in the face of evil and by his humanity in the experience of victory. More »Archbishop of Canterbury hails Mandela's 'courage in face of evil'
A Bangladesh court Sunday ordered prison authorities to hang an Islamist leader months after he was sentenced to death, raising fears of a new wave of clashes in the unrest-plagued nation. Abdul Quader Molla, a key leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was given the death penalty in September when the Supreme Court toughened the life sentence originally handed down to him by the International Crimes Tribunal, a domestic war crimes court. The ICT on Sunday "issued a warrant of execution for Molla", and sent it to the prison authorities, meaning the 65-year-old could now be executed any day unless he is pardoned by President Abdul Hamid or the case is reviewed by the highest court. More »Bangladesh orders execution of death row Islamist
Yemen's LNG gas company has evacuated hundreds of workers from its Balhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden, after a mortar round hit the site, an oil ministry official and employees said Sunday. Yemen LNG said a "minor explosion occurred" inside the plant on Friday, adding that the blast caused only slight damage to non-essential equipment and that a probe has been initiated. France's Total and Texas-based Hunt hold shares in Yemen LNG. President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi said in August that a bid to attack the Balhaf terminal had been foiled after a phone call was intercepted between Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leader of the Yemeni branch of the jihadist network. More »Yemen evacuates hundreds from mortar-hit gas terminal
Saudi authorities beheaded a Pakistani man on Sunday after he was convicted of smuggling drugs into the ultra-conservative Gulf state, the interior ministry said. Mohammed Zayer Khan Qol was arrested as he was "smuggling a large amount of heroin" into the kingdom, said the statement published by the official SPA news agency. Human Rights Watch put the number at 69. More »Saudi beheads Pakistani drug trafficker
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday proposed that Israel annex parts of the West Bank under its full military control where most Jewish settlers live. "I favour implementation of Israeli sovereignty over the zone where 400,000 (settlers) live and only 70,000 Arabs," said the head of the far-right Jewish Home religious party in the ruling coalition. The finance ministry, meanwhile, has decided to allocate an extra $26 million to build settler homes in the Palestinian territory rather than implement cuts as earlier planned, according to the website of Israel's private Channel 10 television. The Palestinians have long viewed the construction of Jewish settlements on land they see as part of their future state as among the biggest obstacles to resolving their decades-old conflict with Israel. More »Israel minister proposes partial West Bank annexation
The last breath Nelson Mandela drew was his own, free of any life support, in the presence of his closest family members, South African media reported on Sunday. Also present were senior members of the ruling African National Congress that Mandela once led, and religious leaders who comforted family and friends. More »Mandela drew his 'own last breath'
President Jacob Zuma on Sunday made an impassioned plea for South Africans to honour Nelson Mandela's legacy by embracing his values of unity, freedom and justice. "We should pray for us not to forget some of the values that Madiba stood for, that he fought for, that he sacrificed his life for," Zuma told a special prayer service at a Methodist Church in Johannesburg for the democracy icon who died on Thursday. Key among these was Mandela's quest for a free, equal society, its people reconciled with one another after decades of racial oppression, he said. More »Zuma urges S. Africans to keep Mandela's ideals alive