Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Rebel and government forces in South Sudan have agreed to begin peace talks, mediators said Tuesday.
The violence in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, flared two weeks ago between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, whom Kiir sacked in July.
Fighting has spread to six out of 10 states, killing hundreds and displacing some 120,000 others.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an East African regional organization, said that the two sides have appointed representatives to negotiate a cessation to hostilities but did not give a timetable.
Progress reported in nuclear deal talks
Washington – Iranian and European officials said Tuesday that technical talks required to implement a preliminary nuclear deal have made progress, and they suggested that an agreement may be close.
Hamid Baidinejad, leader of an Iranian delegation to the technical talks, said the representatives had “achieved mutual understanding on implementation (of) the nuclear deal,” according to the government-controlled Iranian Students News Agency.
Under the accord, Iran will freeze most of its enrichment operations in exchange for easing of some Western sanctions. The six-month interim deal is supposed to provide time for negotiators to reach a more comprehensive agreement to ensure that Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon.
Technical experts have been meeting intermittently since Dec. 9.
Ukrainians rally by singing anthem
Kiev, Ukraine – At least 100,000 Ukrainians sang the country’s national anthem together at Kiev’s main square on New Year’s Eve in a sign of support for integration with Europe.
Kiev’s Maidan has been the scene of massive pro-European protests for more than a month, triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to ditch a key deal with the European Union.
Opposition leaders had called on Ukrainians to come to the Maidan on New Year’s Eve and sing the national anthem in an act of defiance and what they expected could be the record-breaking live singing of an anthem.
Tens of thousands, who thronged to Maidan and nearby streets, sang “Ukraine Has Not Died Yet” seconds after the New Year’s countdown.