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World in brief: Saudia Arabia working with Iran

Wed., Jan. 31, 2007

U.S. ally Saudi Arabia said Tuesday it was working with Iran, America’s top rival in the Mideast, to find ways to ease the crises in Lebanon and Iraq – a departure from Washington’s confrontational stance toward Tehran.

The mediation is an unusual step by two rivals that have been competing for influence in the region. Saudi Arabia, which is mainly Sunni Muslim, has been increasingly vocal about its suspicions of mainly Shiite Iran’s intentions.

The kingdom’s willingness to cooperate with Iran likely points to Saudi alarm over the bloodshed in Iraq and the possibility of civil war in Lebanon.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Tuesday that Iran had approached his country to “cooperate in averting strife between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon.” A Saudi envoy is in Iran studying all the efforts being exerted to calm the situation in Iraq and Lebanon, and “exploring what Iran can contribute,” he said.


TV shows video of healthier Castro

Cuban state television Tuesday showed a video of a healthier looking Fidel Castro meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and saying his recovery was “far from a lost battle,” in the first images of the ailing leader in three months.

Castro stood and appeared alert in the 10-minute video clip, which state TV said was shot during Chavez’s previously unannounced visit to Havana on Monday. The date could not be confirmed.

The video seemed to be aimed at knocking down recent rumors about Castro’s health, including a report that he was in grave condition.

The broadcast came six months after Castro stunned the nation with a July 31 announcement that he had undergone intestinal surgery and was provisionally ceding power to his younger brother Raul.


City of Lightto get a bit darker

The Eiffel Tower’s 20,000 flashing lights will go dark for five minutes Thursday evening, hours before scientists and officials unveil a long-awaited report on global warming.

The darkening of the landmark in the City of Light comes at the urging of environmental activists and is timed to precede Friday’s release of the major report warning that Earth will keep getting warmer and presenting new evidence of humanity’s role in climate change.

Ahead of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pressure is building on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to convene an emergency summit of world leaders aimed at breaking a deadlock over cutting greenhouse gases.

Ban has not decided if he will push for a summit, said his spokeswoman, Michele Montas, in New York.


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