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.

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.

Syria: EU urges strong response, as Kerry seeks support for military action
September 7th, 2013
07:51 AM ET

Syria: EU urges strong response, as Kerry seeks support for military action

By Elise Labott and Laura Smith-Spark

The European Union called Saturday for a "clear and strong" international response to the Bashar al-Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said U.N. inspectors investigating the incident should report their initial findings before any action is taken.

The statement came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to persuade skeptical European allies to join an international coalition on Syria after a Group of 20 summit ended Friday with a stalemate between Washington and Russia.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton read the statement, which she said reflected the position of all EU members, after four hours of talks Saturday between Kerry and EU foreign ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Full Story

January 16th, 2013
02:12 PM ET

Attackers kill, injure workers in Algeria; Americans held hostage

By Laura Smith-Spark and Yousuf Basil

Islamists attacked a gas field in eastern Algeria, killing two people and seizing hostages, including Westerners, Algeria's interior minister said Wednesday.

The incident may be linked to France's military support for the government of nearby Mali, according to reports from the region.

The Westerners, accompanied by Algerian security forces, were en route to In Amenas Airport when they were attacked early in the morning by a group of no more than 20 people, the official, Diho Weld Qabliyeh, told Algerian state television. The security forces returned fire, and the attackers withdrew to the base of the petroleum operation, some 3 kilometers away, he said.

Upon arrival at the base, he continued, the attackers "took in a number of Westerners and Algerians - some people told us they were nine, some people told us 12."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Americans were among the hostages.

Accounts over the number differed.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Africa • Algeria • Mali
Battle still looms for Libya after Gadhafi
US Asst Secy of State Jeffrey Feltman meets with Libyan NTC Chmn Mustafa Abdul Jalil Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
August 23rd, 2011
06:56 PM ET

Battle still looms for Libya after Gadhafi

As what might be the final battle rages in Libya, another is looming: the political battle to create a functioning democracy.

As Libyan rebels try to consolidate their military gains in Tripoli, the National Transitional Council in Benghazi is trying to activate plans for a political transition.

What role the United States will play in Libya's future isn't yet clear, but most believe it will be a major partner in an international effort.

Getting an interim government in place in Libya as soon as possible is critical, the U.S. State Department says. That government would lead the process of writing a constitution and getting to elections, the building blocks of democracy.

But international assistance will be necessary to put the other blocks in place.