Top News: A fresh round of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program began this morning in Geneva. Iran and the P5+1 -- the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain) and Germany -- will discuss measures to credibly end Iran's nuclear weapons program today and tomorrow. The talks come after months of conciliatory diplomacy between the United States and Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani.
While there is little optimism that this week's talks will resolve the matter of Iranian nuclear weapons development entirely, U.S. officials have hinted that progress made could result in immediate relief from U.S. imposed sanctions. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said that initial receptions to Iran's proposal were "good," though he gave no details of the plan, but said that "There is a positive atmosphere" in the talks.
The Israeli government remains extremely skeptical of the talks, and the country's security cabinet cautioned the United States not to lift sanctions prematurely, saying in a statement, "It would be an historic mistake not to take full advantage of the sanctions, by making concessions before ensuring the dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons program."
For more, read Foreign Policy's profile of the U.S. nuclear negotiator, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
United States: U.S. Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are reportedly nearing a compromise that would raise the debt limit until at least February and fund the government until January, and might also remove a fee for business owners related to the Affordable Care Act. Any legislation will still have to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the deadline for raising the debt limit is Thursday, Oct. 17.
- Abu Anas al-Libi, the al-Qaeda terrorist seized by U.S. special forces in Tripoli, Libya, last week for his role in the 1998 African embassy bombings, was handed over by the military to law enforcement authorities in New York and is expected to appear in court soon.
- Diplomats from Venezuela and Guyana agreed to meet on Thursday to resolve a border dispute that arose when an oil exploration vessel was detained by the Venezuelan navy in contested waters.
- The U.S. National Security Agency is "harvesting" contact information from emails, instant messages, and contact lists, according to a new detail of the agency's surveillance program leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
- The handicapped man who detonated a small bomb in the Beijing airport in July to seek redress for a police beating has been sentenced to six years in prison.
- In what appears to have been a planned bombing, an explosion at a hotel in Yangon, Myanmar injured an American occupant on Monday.
- At least 85 people are dead after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday morning in the Philippines that caused many buildings to collapse on Bohol Island.
- Four of the seven Red Cross/Red Crescent aid workers that were taken hostage by Syrian rebels -- believed to be part of an al-Qaeda group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams -- were released.
- Ten Jewish men were arrested by Israeli authorities when they unfurled an Israeli flag and danced at the Temple Mount in violation of religious observance laws at the site.
- Syrian refugees whose ship sank between Malta and Lampedusa, Italy, last Friday told UNHCR officials that the ship was fired upon by Libyan officials as it sailed toward Europe.
- Mohamed Abdi Hassan, also known as Afweyne ("Big Mouth"), a Somali piracy financier and mastermind, was lured to Belgium with the promise of consulting on a biopic about his exploits and arrested by law enforcement officials for his role in seizing a Belgian ship.
- An explosion in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this past weekend is believed to have been a premature detonation by bombers who may have been targeting a soccer game.
- Congolese officials claimed that the country's M23 rebels are being harbored and trained by Rwanda and that they are preparing for a fresh offensive.
- Russian authorities rounded up more than 1,600 migrant laborers working in Moscow after riots erupted in a southern neighborhood of the city.
- European finance ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss how to address losses that will be revealed in a review of European banking by the European Central Bank.
- British officials arrested and are questioning four men on terrorism related charges, and suggested that the men were planning an attack similar to the al-Shabab attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
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