- - Tuesday, December 7, 2010

IRAN

Iran agrees to 2011 talks in Turkey

GENEVA | Iran and six world powers concluded talks Tuesday with an agreement to reconvene early next year, suggesting Tehran may be willing to address concerns about its nuclear program.

But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that the six face failure in the next round unless they lift U.N. sanctions.

Diplomats from delegations at the table with Iran said Tehran made no commitments to talking about U.N. Security Council demands that Tehran freeze uranium enrichment — which has both civilian and military uses.

ISRAEL

Talks postponed on settlement curbs

JERUSALEM | Israeli talks with Washington meant to curb settlement construction and restart negotiations with the Palestinians have been put on hold, Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday.

The U.S. has pressed Israel to renew a moratorium on new settlement construction in exchange for security and diplomatic assurances. But Israel wants a written pledge that disputed East Jerusalem will be exempted from the moratorium.

Palestinians say they won’t return to stalled peace talks unless Israel halts all building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — lands they want for part of their future state.

EGYPT

Beach ban eased after shark attacks

SHARM EL-SHEIKH | Egyptian authorities have reopened some Red Sea beaches that had been closed to swimmers after an unusual series of shark attacks over the past week, including the fatal mauling of a German tourist.

Swimmers were being allowed back into the water of several bays at Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula that is a renowned reef diving spot. Diving remained restricted to professionals.

Shark attacks at Egypt’s Red Sea resorts are rare, and three shark experts from the U.S. are trying to determine what is behind them.

Besides the fatally mauled victim, four other swimmers and snorkelers were badly injured.

ISRAEL

Rabbis abjure selling property to non-Jews

JERUSALEM | Dozens of Israeli rabbis, some of them civil servants, issued an appeal on Tuesday telling locals not to sell or rent property to non-Jews, drawing condemnation from lawmakers and human rights activists.

The open letter underscored Jewish-Arab tensions that have deepened along with Israel’s deadlocked Palestinian conflict, as well as more recent demographic fears triggered by an influx of illegal African migrants.

“The Land of Israel is intended for the people of Israel,” Yosef Shainin, chief rabbi of the southern port city of Ashdod and one of the 41 signatories, told Israel’s Army Radio when asked about the letter.

Obtained by Reuters news agency ahead of its planned publication in synagogues and religious journals, the letter quotes warnings by ancient sages that living with non-Jews can lead to “sacrilege.”

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Leaders warn Iran on meddling in region

ABU DHABI | Leaders of six U.S.-allied Gulf Arab nations said Tuesday they were monitoring with “utmost concern” developments in Iran’s disputed nuclear program and issued a thinly veiled warning to their Persian neighbor not to meddle in their internal affairs.

A communique issued by the six leaders at the end of a two-day summit in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, said they wanted the dispute to be resolved through “peaceful means” and to make the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

The gathering of leaders from the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman followed the publication of leaked U.S. diplomatic memos that revealed deeper concern among Gulf Arab leaders over Tehran’s nuclear program than previously had been known — including a desire by several of them to see the United States destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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