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In brief: Iran nuclear talks extended four months

Washington – Iran and six world powers agreed late Friday to extend their contentious talks on Tehran’s nuclear program for four months, diplomats said.

Representatives of the seven countries have conferred almost daily since February to try to reach a historic agreement that would prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability, and in exchange would provide it relief from tough sanctions on its economy.

In two weeks of intensive talks in Vienna this month, they have fallen short of meeting a Sunday deadline for an agreement.

But President Barack Obama and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said this week that negotiators had made enough progress to justify four more months of discussions.

Appeals court tosses Berlusconi’s conviction

Milan – An Italian appeals court Friday threw out the conviction of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on charges that he paid for sex with a minor and tried to use his influence to hush it up.

The decision by the court in Milan voided the seven-year prison sentence and lifetime ban from public office imposed on Berlusconi, 77, who had been found guilty by a lower court last year. The trial featured lurid details of the former premier’s raunchy “bunga bunga” parties at which young women were allegedly paid to perform stripteases and entertain the male guests.

Prosecutors can still appeal Friday’s verdict reversal to Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.

Berlusconi, a media tycoon, had not yet begun serving his seven-year sentence. He is already performing community service at a home for the elderly because of a conviction on fraud charges in a separate case.

Islamic State routs Iraqi counteroffensive

Irbil, Iraq – Islamic State gunmen overran a former U.S. military base early Friday and killed or captured hundreds of Iraqi government troops who had been trying to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, the worst military reversal Iraqi troops have suffered since the Islamist forces captured nearly half the country last month.

The defeat brought to an end a three-week campaign by the government in Baghdad to recapture Tikrit, which fell to the Islamic State on June 11. Military spokesmen earlier this week had confidently announced a final push to recapture the city.

Instead, Islamic State forces turned back the army’s thrust up the main highway Wednesday. Beginning late Thursday, the Islamist forces stormed Camp Speicher, a former U.S. military base named for a pilot who disappeared during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and overwhelmed the troops there.

Witnesses reached by phone said that by Friday morning the final pocket of government troops had collapsed, an ignominious end for the counteroffensive.

There was no comment from the Iraqi government.


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