October 21st, 2013
07:31 PM ET

Report: U.S. intercepts French phone calls on a 'massive scale'

The U.S. ambassador to France met with French diplomats Monday over allegations that the National Security Agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period.

Ambassador Charles Rivkin was summoned to the French Foreign Ministry in Paris after the details of the alleged spying appeared in the French newspaper Le Monde.

"These kinds of practices between partners, that violate privacy, are totally unacceptable," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. "We must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated."
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Filed under: Britain • Edward Snowden • EU • Europe • France • Germany • Intelligence • NSA • Spying
October 17th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

Iranian officials optimistic after Geneva talks

By Laura Smith-Spark and Jim Sciutto

A day after talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers over Tehran's nuclear ambitions ended on a promising note, Iran's state-run news agency quoted government officials as expressing optimism that differences can be resolved.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the so-called P5+1 - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, all countries with permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany - "has accepted the overall framework of Tehran's new proposal to settle differences but said we should wait for their practical measures," IRNA reported Thursday.

"Araqchi further referred to uranium enrichment as Iran's red line in the negotiations, adding that Iran could still negotiate over the level and the volume of enrichment," it added.

According to Araqchi, who is taking a lead role in the negotiations, the sides could reach an agreement in as little as three to six months.

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October 16th, 2013
02:30 PM ET

Iran nuclear talks resume in 'positive' spirit

By Laura Smith-Spark and Jim Sciutto

Iran and six world powers entered a second day of talks Wednesday over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, after what appeared to be a positive opening exchange.

Both sides struck a tone of cautious optimism after the first day of negotiations in Geneva

Iran, which wants the six powers to recognize what it says is the peaceful nature of its nuclear energy pursuits, laid out confidential proposals Tuesday morning, with further talks in the afternoon.

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Iranian vice president calls for new ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ with U.S.; promises expansion of Internet freedom in Iran
Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last week on Iran's nuclear program.
October 2nd, 2013
04:34 PM ET

Iranian vice president calls for new ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ with U.S.; promises expansion of Internet freedom in Iran

By Tara Kangarlou and Jim Sciutto

From wishing Jews a Happy Rosh Hashanah to an historic phone call with President Barack Obama, Iran’s president is pursuing a new kind of outreach. One of his vice presidents compared it to Richard Nixon’s ping pong diplomacy, credited with opening relations between the United States and China more than 40 years ago.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Mohammad-Ali Najafi, Iranian vice president and head of Iran’s richly funded Cultural Heritage and Tourism institution, said he believes such outreach could do the same for relations between the United States and Iran today.

“I adamantly believe in cultural diplomacy and believe the thing that could improve relations between (the) U.S. and Iran after the years and soften the harshness of this relationship is cultural diplomacy,” Najafi said.

Najafi, who reportedly planned to run for president and is considered part of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inner circle, invited all Americans to visit Iran and regarded tourism as a primary tool to create “long-lasting and effective” engagement between the two countries.

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Meetings in Geneva to test seriousness of Russia and Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he arrives in Geneva for meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister to discuss the situation in Syria.
September 12th, 2013
08:52 AM ET

Meetings in Geneva to test seriousness of Russia and Syria

From Jim Sciutto traveling with Secretary Kerry in Geneva

As Secretary Kerry and his team land in Geneva, I get a clear sense of them heading into these crucial talks with the Russians with a healthy dose of skepticism. As one official said to me, this is a test of whether the Russians and more importantly the Syrians are serious. Both sides are bringing their experts on chemical weapons, security, and more – all to assess whether there is a credible way forward to catalogue, collect and destroy Assad's massive arsenal of chemical weapons. These next 48 hours will determine if there is a diplomatic way out of this.

"We can test whether there is a credible and authentic way forward here – that the Russians mean what they say – as importantly, more importantly probably, that Assad means what he says and that we can move forward with a program that is verifiable, that can happen expeditiously and that Assad cannot have access to and continue to use chemical weapons against his own people," a senior administration official told me aboard the plane as we flew to Geneva.

Administration officials say the intended outcome of the meetings is to get an "outline of what a way forward may look like" which they can then take to Britain, France, China, and others to build support for a resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
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September 10th, 2013
08:01 PM ET

President Obama asks Senate to delay military strike vote, senator says

(CNN) - As a Russian proposal to strip Syria of its chemical weapons began to take shape, the White House eased off the gas on Tuesday in its drive for congressional approval to strike the Middle Eastern country.

President Barack Obama asked Senate Democrats to delay voting on authorizing military action in Syria while the diplomatic process works itself out, according to senators in a meeting with Obama.

A White House official told CNN that during his meeting on the hill, the president said that his administration would spend the days ahead pursuing this diplomatic option with the Russians and U.S. allies at the United Nations.
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