By Louis Charbonneau and Yeganeh Torbati GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States described two days of nuclear negotiations with Iran as the most serious and candid to date after Western diplomats said Tehran hinted it was ready to scale back sensitive atomic activities to secure urgent sanctions relief. But a senior U.S. administration official told reporters after the conclusion of negotiations between Iran and six world powers that no breakthroughs had been achieved and many disagreements remained. Other Western diplomats involved in the talks said there had been no apparent narrowing of differences between Tehran and the six nations over its nuclear ambitions. "I've been doing this now for about two years," the official said on condition of anonymity. "And I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before. The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, echoed the remarks, saying Iran's proposal showed "a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before". But he cautioned that "no one should expect a breakthrough overnight". Washington's ally Israel, which has told the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - the six nations negotiating with Iran - not to trust Tehran, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to speak next week with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the Geneva talks and sanctions should not be eased until Iran proves it is dismantling its program. Netanyahu on October 1 told the U.N. General Assembly Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani, widely seen as a pragmatist and centrist, was a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and that Israel was ready to act alone to keep Tehran from getting nuclear weapons. Follow-up talks between the six powers and Iran will be held in Geneva on November 7-8. Tehran denies allegations by Western powers that it is seeking the capability to produce atomic bombs. But so far it has defied U.N. Security Council demands that it halt enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities, leading to multiple rounds of crippling international sanctions that have reduced Iranian oil exports, caused inflation to soar and the value of the Iranian rial currency to plummet. Western officials have said that they need Iran to increase the transparency of its nuclear program, stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, reduce its uranium stockpiles and take other steps to assure the world it does not want atomic weapons. 'IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTION' In a rare joint statement highlighting the dramatic shift from confrontation to dialogue since Rouhani took office in August, negotiators from Iran and the six world powers said Tehran's new proposal aimed at defusing longstanding suspicions over the nature of its nuclear program was an "important contribution" now under careful consideration. Details of Iran's proposal, presented during two days of negotiations in Geneva, have not been released, and Western officials were unsure whether Tehran was prepared to go far enough to clinch a breakthrough deal. The joint statement, read out by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif "presented an outline of a plan as a proposed basis for negotiation" and the talks were "substantive and forward looking," without elaborating. Zarif, who is also Iran's chief negotiator, said Tehran looked to a new era in diplomatic relations after a decade of tension, in which concerns about the Islamic state's nuclear ambitions fuelled fears of a new war in the Middle East. "We sense that members of the (six powers) also have exhibited the necessary political will in order to move the process forward. Now we need to get to the details," he told reporters after being brought into the auditorium in a wheelchair due to severe back pain. After Tuesday's initial round, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi suggested Tehran was prepared to address long-standing calls for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to have wider and more intrusive inspection powers. Araqchi met the head of the U.S. delegation, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, on Tuesday, the third bilateral contact between the two nations since Rouhani's election in June. They followed a telephone call between Rouhani and President Barack Obama last month, the highest level U.S.-Iranian contact since Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. Washington cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1980. The sequencing of any concessions by Iran and any sanctions relief by the West could prove a stumbling block en route to a landmark, verifiable deal. Western officials have repeatedly said that Iran must suspend enriching uranium to 20 percent fissile purity, their main worry, before sanctions are eased. Rouhani's election opened the door to serious negotiations with the six powers, Western envoys say. Britain said it hoped this week's talks would lead to "concrete" results but that Iran must take the initiative. "Iran will need to take the necessary first steps on its program and we are ready to take proportionate steps in return," Foreign Secretary William Hague said. Russia warned against undue optimism. "The result is better than in Almaty (talks held in April) but does not guarantee further progress," Sergey Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister and Iran negotiator, told Interfax. "There could have been better cooperation." COMPLETE HALT TO ENRICHMENT OUT OF QUESTION Western diplomats were hesitant to divulge specifics about the negotiations due to sensitivities involved - both in Tehran, where conservative hardliners are skeptical about striking deals that could curtail the nuclear program, and in Washington, where hawks are reluctant to support swift sanctions relief. In a sign of U.S. congressional skepticism, Senator Marco Rubio, seen as a potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee, introduced a non-binding resolution in the U.S. Senate arguing that current sanctions on Iran must be kept and more added until Tehran "completely" abandons its suspected nuclear arms program. Israel on Wednesday also urged Western powers not to give up economic sanctions on Iran until Tehran proves it is dismantling its nuclear program. "Iran should be tested by its actions, not its proposals," a senior Israeli official said on condition of anonymity in a message sent from Netanyahu's office. But Iran, diplomats said, has made much more concrete proposals than in the past, when ideological lectures and obfuscations were the norm, to the point that Iranian negotiators were worried about details being aired in public before they had had a chance to sell them back in Tehran. Diplomats said other proposals Iranian envoys had made regarding eventual "confidence-building" steps included halting 20 percent enrichment and possibly converting at least some of existing 20 percent stockpiles - material that alarms the powers as it is only a short technical step away from weapons-grade - to uranium oxide suitable for processing into reactor fuel. Iran has made clear for years that it does not intend to renounce uranium enrichment, despite U.N. Security Council demands that it do so. Diplomats say the United States and its European allies have resigned themselves to the fact that Tehran will have to be allowed to maintain some enrichment capabilities, though the scale of its enrichment work will likely be the subject of heated negotiations in the coming months. Western diplomats say that conceding to demands for zero Iranian enrichment from U.S. and Israeli hawks would undermine Rouhani's authority at home by exposing him to accusations of a sell-out from conservative hardliners in the clerical and security elite. Most Iranians of whatever political persuasion equate the quest for nuclear energy with national sovereignty, modernization and a standing equal to the Western world. (Additional reporting by Fredrik Dahl, Yeganeh Torbati, Justyna Pawlak and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Marcus George in Dubai, Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow and Patricial Zengerle in Washington; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Giles Elgood and Eric Walsh)
Data from a late-stage study to test if AstraZeneca's diabetes drug Farxiga could treat patients hospitalised with COVID-19 and at risk of developing serious complications fell short of its main goals, the drugmaker said on Monday. The Farxiga data did not achieve statistical significance in cutting the risk of the disease worsening and death in such patients, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said. AstraZeneca has had a rollercoaster ride with its coronavirus vaccine, as nations restricted its use after European and British regulators confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.
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Hideki Matsuyama has delivered golf-mad Japan the grandest and greenest prize of all. A decade after Matsuyama made a sterling debut as the best amateur at Augusta National, he claimed the ultimate trophy with a victory in the Masters. Matsuyama becomes the first Japanese winner of a men's major championship.
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LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's government has opened an independent investigation into lobbying after former Prime Minister David Cameron's activities on behalf of finance firm Greensill Capital raised questions over access to ministers. Australian banker Lex Greensill was brought in as an adviser to the government while Cameron was British prime minister from 2010 to 2016. After leaving office, Cameron in turn became an adviser to Greensill's now-insolvent company.
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Dismissed for decades by critics as a country bumpkin who loves silly carnival costumes, Bavarian leader Markus Soeder said on Sunday that he was willing to run as the conservative candidate for German chancellor, provided he had the bloc's full backing. Angela Merkel, who has clocked up four election victories and led Europe's biggest economy for 16 years, is not standing for a fifth term when Germany goes to the polls in September. This means the parliamentary bloc formed by her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister party, Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), must decide on a candidate.
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The pressure was even more than Hideki Matsuyama could have imagined when he stood on the first tee Sunday at Augusta National. Ten years after he made a sterling debut as the best amateur at the Masters, the 29-year-old Matsuyama claimed the ultimate prize and took his place in history. Whether he's Japan's greatest player is not his concern.
The Biden administration says it had no role in the explosion on Sunday at an Iranian uranium enrichment facility. Iran has blamed Israel and vowed to take revenge.Why it matters: The administration is attempting to negotiate a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, with a second round of indirect talks set to start on Wednesday. The timing of the incident, along with several recent Israeli strikes on Iranian ships, could make Biden's diplomatic challenge more difficult.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.What they're saying: "We have seen reports of an incident at the Natanz enrichment facility in Iran. The United States had no involvement, and we have nothing to add to speculation about the causes," a senior Biden administration official said.Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed Israel for the explosion, which resulted in damage to centrifuges used to enrichment uranium. He said the incident would not affect the nuclear talks, but “we will take our revenge against the Zionists.”Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, denied a New York Times report that the explosion caused such severe damage that it will take 9 months to repair. Salehi said uranium enrichment continues and the damaged centrifuges will soon be replaced.Iranian media reported that the intelligence services were investigating the incident, and one arrest had already been made.Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met this morning in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Speaking alongside Austin, Netanyahu stressed that Iran was the gravest threat in the region and that Israel would never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.Austin stressed the U.S. commitment to Israel's security but did not mention Iran. Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a longtime advocate of democracy in Myanmar, told Politico Monday the Biden administration is "trying to do the right thing" in responding to the Myanmar military coup.What he's saying: "On the domestic front, I have not yet witnessed something that I’ve been happy about," McConnell said. "But in this area, I think their instincts are good. I think they’re trying to do the right thing."Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeBetween the lines: President Biden has consulted McConnell on the U.S.' response to the takeover in Myanmar, which has led police and military to kill over 700 people since February, Politico reports. The Republican senator, an ally to Myanmar's democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, called on the Biden administration to address the coup at the United Nations Security Council to ensure international attention.“Our ability to influence this from halfway around the world is limited,” he said. “But we do have tools.”"The lion share of the burden is on the State Department and the administration," he added. "But in any way that congressional action needs to be a part of this: Count me in."A former top State Department official who used to work with McConnell's staff told Politico McConnell has been "frustrated at times that, on both sides of the aisle, the White House and the State Department hasn't always come up with effective Burma policies."The big picture: The Biden administration has meted out a number of sanctions on Myanmar military officials in response, suspending trade engagement and imposing export controls.But the violence hasn't abated in Myanmar. On Saturday, security forces killed at least 82 pro-democracy protesters, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.Go deeper: UN envoy says "a bloodbath is imminent" in MyanmarMore from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
Black Lives Matter of Greater New York chair Hawk Newsome questions how much Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors has contributed to charity. The head of New York City’s Black Lives Matter chapter is calling for an investigation into BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors over a series of million-dollar real estate purchases she’s made. Cullors, 37, has reportedly purchased four high-end homes for $3.2 million in the U.S. alone, per New York Post, including property in a mostly white area of Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles County for $1.4 million.
A former Minneapolis police officer said he quit days before the Derek Chauvin trial because he thinks protesters will 'burn the city down' no matter the case's outcome
The former sergeant told Insider that he believed there would be rioting at the close of Chauvin's murder trial and that he feared getting killed.
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La Soufriere volcano fired an enormous amount of ash and hot gas early Monday in the biggest explosive eruption yet since volcanic activity began on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent late last week, with officials worried about the lives of those who have refused to evacuate. Experts called it a “huge explosion” that generated pyroclastic flows down the volcano’s south and southwest flanks. “It’s destroying everything in its path,” Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, told The Associated Press.
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Iran’s foreign minister on Monday vowed vengeance against Israel for an explosion a day earlier at the Natanz nuclear site that he blamed directly on Tehran’s arch enemy. “The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions ... they have publicly said that they will not allow this. But we will take our revenge from the Zionists,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by state TV. Israel has all but claimed responsibility for the apparent sabotage operation that damaged the electricity grid at the Natanz site on Sunday, with multiple Israeli outlets reporting that Mossad carried out the operation, which is believed to have shut down entire sections of the facility. The sabotage could set back uranium enrichment at the facility by at least nine months, US officials briefed on the operation told the New York Times. Iran on Monday said the person who caused the power outage at one of the production halls at Natanz had been identified. "Necessary measures are being taken to arrest this person," the semi-official Nournews website reported, without giving further details.
A former Minneapolis police officer said Derek Chauvin violated protocol kneeling on George Floyd's neck, but he doesn't think the officer committed a crime
The former officer, who spoke with Insider on condition of anonymity, said he believed Floyd died of a drug overdose.
- Business Insider
People on the Caribbean island where a volcano went off are being evacuated on cruise ships - but not without a COVID-19 vaccine
The evacuees most have received a vaccination before they board the cruise ships, the prime minister has said.
- The Week
Virginia police officer fired after violent stop of Black Army officer. Governor calls for state investigation.
The town of Windsor, Virginia, said Sunday that one officer has been fired and another disciplined over an arrest in December that went viral on social media over the weekend. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said earlier Sunday that video of the traffic stop, in which Army Lt. Caron Nazario was pepper-sprayed at gunpoint by two officers, "is disturbing and angered me," and he said he has directed the Virginia State Police to investigate the incident. Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is also suing the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, in federal court. Gutierrez and Crocker pulled Nazario over in Windsor on Dec. 5, 2020, because his brand new SUV did not have permanent license plates. At one point, Nazario, in his Army uniform, told the officers he was afraid to get out of the car, video from Nazario's cellphone and the officers' body cameras show. "Yeah, you should be," one of the officers responded. Gutierrez, who pepper-sprayed Nazario inside his car before arresting him, did not follow Windsor police procedures and was "terminated from his employment," the town of Windsor said in a statement. Nazario was released without charge. In a federal lawsuit filed April 2, Nazario argues excessive force by the officers violated his constitutional rights and says the officers threatened to end his military career if he spoke out about the arrest, The Washington Post reports. He is seeking at least $1 million in damages. Windsor, a town of about 2,600 about 30 miles west of Norfolk, "acknowledges the unfortunate events that transpired," and "department-wide requirements for additional training were implemented beginning in January and continue up to the present," Windsor officials said in a statement Sunday night. "The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its police department," the statement added. "Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light." More stories from theweek.comTrump finally jumps the shark7 brutally funny cartoons about Mitch McConnell's corporate hypocrisy1 issue where the Biden administration and Mitch McConnell really see eye to eye