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Leading nations deadlock on Iran

Talks among diplomats from the world’s major industrialized countries ended here Wednesday with no agreement on how to end the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said that most of the countries that took part in the talks – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany on Tuesday, the Group of Eight industrialized countries on Wednesday – favored imposing sanctions on Iran if it doesn’t stop its nuclear program.

But China and Russia, who as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council can veto any proposal, still remain opposed.

As if to underscore its position, Russia confirmed that it would sell 29 mobile air defense missiles to Iran – a step Burns criticized.

Bismarck, N.D.

Snowstorm dumps 2 feet in areas

A powerful spring storm swept through the northwestern Plains on Wednesday, dumping up to 2 feet of snow that closed major highways, cut power to hundreds and was blamed for at least four deaths.

More than 2,000 homes and businesses lost power in South Dakota’s Black Hills, and many schools were closed.

The heaviest snow was reported in the Black Hills, with 24 inches at Lead and Rochford.

Vatican City

Benedict marks first year as pope

Pope Benedict XVI marked his first year as pontiff Wednesday by asking for prayers to carry on as God’s “gentle and firm” pastor – an appeal underscoring his efforts to unify the faithful while keeping to core church teaching.

A visibly moved Benedict told an estimated 50,000 people gathered for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square that his election had come as a “complete surprise” and that he couldn’t do the job without their support.


Court confirms Prodi’s victory

Italy’s top court confirmed Wednesday that Romano Prodi and his opposition coalition won a majority in the lower house of parliament in national elections last week.

His rival, incumbent Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, continued to refuse to concede defeat in the bitterly contested balloting.

The Court of Cassation said that Prodi’s Union coalition had defeated the House of Liberties bloc led by Berlusconi by a mere 24,755 votes in the lower house contest, enough to claim victory and receive extra seats to give it a 55 percent majority in the legislative body.