Top News: Iranian-U.S. relations continue to thaw this week. After both President Hassan Rouhani and President Obama revealed this week that they had been corresponding with one another, Rouhani published an editorial in today's Washington Post. In it, Rouhani encourages "engaging with one's counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives." He expressed Iran's willingness to facilitate talks between government and opposition groups in Syria and Bahrain and to negotiate about Iran's nuclear program, part of which, he wrote, is bound to Iran's identity. "To us," he wrote, "mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world."
As Patrick Clawson cautions in FP today, the power to approve any deal rests not with Rouhani, but Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei, but the licence being given to Rouhani to engage with the West could be promising. Israeli officials have been less receptive to Rouhani's diplomatic overtures. Minister for Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz said that a credible military threat is still necessary to goad Iran to stop pursuing a nuclear weapon, telling an interviewer, "There is no more time to hold negotiations." U.S. officials have also privately expressed their doubts about Rouhani's sincerity and the politicking that has led to this new diplomatic push.
Rouhani will now travel to the United States to speak at the U.N. General Assembly. He will also give speeches at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, and give interviews to PBS and CNN.
Yemen: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters attacked three Yemeni military installations at dawn this morning in the country's Shabwa province. The jihadists, who seized and held land in the area in during the country's revolution in 2011 and 2012 before being forced out by government troops, attacked with car bombs and small arms and have killed at least 38 Yemeni troops in the attacks. Some fighting may still be underway at this hour.
- Gang violence in a Venezuelan prison resulted in the deaths of 16 inmates, including some deaths by beheading and dismemberment.
- The death toll in Mexico climbed to 97 as Hurricane Manuel battered Mexico's western coast.
- Nicaragua filed a new legal challenge to contest Colombia's claim to resource rich maritime territory.
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe toured the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant and urged the plant's owner to shut it down instead of pushing forward with repairs.
- Fourteen members of a criminal syndicate were arrested in Singapore for their role in fixing major soccer matches, including World Cup and European Championship qualifying games.
- Days after four men were sentenced to death for a gangrape, five more men have been indicted in Mumbai for the rape and murder of a photojounalist.
- Egypt's relations with Qatar, which has been a vocal advocate of the Muslim Brotherhood, continued to deteriorate as talks about previously pledged aid resulted in Egypt returning $2 billion.
- A truce between al Qaeda-linked fighters and Free Syrian Army rebels was reached after the two fought for control of a northern Syrian town, leading to the deaths of five FSA troops.
- Tunisia's interior minister told reporters that the CIA had warned that opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi might be targeted before his assassination in July.
- French President Francois Hollande declared that French and Malian troops "have won this war" at the inauguration of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Bamako.
- Saif Gaddafi, son of ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, appeared in court in the city of Zintan; the judge postponed the trial until December, citing a "lack of evidence."
- A raid by Boko Haram fighters in the Nigerian border-state Borno killed 87 people and saw dozens of buildings razed.
- The murder of an anti-fascist advocate in Greece has prompted outrage at the country's controversial Golden Dawn party.
- Sen. John McCain published an editorial in Pravda firing back at Vladimir Putin, telling Russian readers they deserve a better leader more supportive of human rights.
- Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church has become too focused on "small-minded rules" relating to abortion and homosexuality.
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