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U.N. nuclear agency may press Iran on rare isotope in probe

IAEA Director General Amano addresses the media after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in ViennaBy Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog says it wants Iran to clarify past production of small amounts of a rare radioactive material that can help trigger an atomic bomb explosion, but which also has non-military uses. The comment about polonium by U.N. atomic agency chief Yukiya Amano at a weekend security conference in Munich suggested the issue may be raised at talks between his experts and Iranian officials on February 8. It also signaled his determination to get to the bottom of suspicions that Iran may have worked on designing a nuclear warhead, even as world powers and Tehran pursue broader diplomacy to settle a decade-old dispute over its atomic aims. "The separation of polonium-210, in conjunction with beryllium, can be part of a catalyst for a nuclear chain reaction," the Arms Control Association, a U.S. research and advocacy group, said on its web site.

Ukraine president, back at work, warns "radicals"

By Richard Balmforth and Natalia Zinets KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich returned to work on Monday after four days of sick leave, issuing a warning about rising "radicalism" after more than two months of unrest on the streets but giving no word on a new prime minister. Yanukovich, caught in a tug of war between Russia and the West, is seeking a way out of a sometimes violent confrontation with protesters who have occupied city streets and public buildings following his decision in November to spurn a trade deal with the EU and accept financial aid from Moscow. As he returned to work, looking in fair health, a day before a new session of parliament, the political opposition took heart from fresh expressions of support from Western governments and pressed for more concessions to end protests. However, the European Union, whose foreign policy chief is due in Kiev late on Tuesday, played down suggestions it was working with the United States on a large-scale aid package aimed at nursing the economy through a political transition.

Iraqi forces kill 57 Islamist militants in Sunni province

Iraqi security forces take their positions during clashes with al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the city of RamadiIraqi troops and allied tribesmen killed 57 Islamist militants in Anbar province on Monday, the Defense Ministry said, in advance of a possible assault on the Sunni Muslim rebel-held city of Falluja. There was no independent verification of the toll among the militants, said to be members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a jihadi group also fighting in the civil war in neighboring Syria. ISIL militants and other Sunni groups angered by the Shi'ite Muslim-led Baghdad government overran Falluja and parts of the nearby city of Ramadi in the western province of Anbar on January 1. The Defense Ministry statement said most of the 57 militants had been killed in the outskirts of Ramadi, but gave few details.

Suicide bomb attack hits passenger van in south Beirut

Civil defence members, Lebanese army soldiers and policemen inspect the wreckage of a van at the site of an explosion in Choueifat, south of the capitalBy Laila Bassam BEIRUT (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up in a passenger van in a southern suburb of Lebanon's capital Beirut on Monday as the country continued to struggle with the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria. The explosion occurred in a van that was taking passengers along the highway in Choueifat, a district of south Beirut, to a suburban area where the Shi'ite Muslim political and militant movement Hezbollah has a heavy presence. Hezbollah has sent fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, against the majority Sunni Muslim rebels. Lebanese and Syrian Sunni militants supportive of the Syrian uprising have targeted Hezbollah areas, including with a bomb attack on Sunday in the northern Shi'ite town of Hermel.

Italian judge who convicted Knox investigated for media comments

Judge Nencini reads the verdict during the retrial session of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in FlorenceBy Naomi O'Leary ROME (Reuters) - Italy's justice minister ordered an investigation on Monday into comments to the media by the judge who reinstated murder convictions for U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. Alessandro Nencini, who last Thursday sentenced Knox to 28 years and six months and Italian Sollecito to 25 years in jail for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, spoke to several Italian newspapers the morning after the verdict. Sollecito's lawyers said the comments showed the judge had been biased against their client and had violated the legal maxim that jury deliberations remain secret. They asked Italy's judicial governing body to consider disciplinary action and queried whether the court's decision was still valid.

Conclude talks or see rebels radicalize, U.N. Security Council tells Mali

A Malian soldier holds a machine gun mounted on a pick-up truck during a military escort outside TimbuktuBy Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo BAMAKO (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Monday called on Mali's government and rebels conclude talks as soon as possible, warning that the failure to do so risked radicalizing fighters and undoing fragile security gains. Members of the Security Council visited Mali over the weekend to assess progress in stabilizing the country, a year after France dispatched thousands of troops to end an occupation of the north by al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels. The Islamists have been scattered, elections were held and a U.N. peacekeeping mission is rolling out. However, talks between Bamako and rebel groups with political demands have stalled.

US approves pill camera to screen colon

WASHINGTON (AP) ? A kinder, gentler approach to one of the most dreaded exams in medicine is on the way: U.S. regulators have cleared a bite-size camera to help screen patients who have trouble with colonoscopies.

Salvadoran leftist leads vote, but faces runoff

Salvador Sanchez Ceren, presidential candidate, current vice president for the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) gestures during a demonstration in San Salvador, El Salvador, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. El Salvador's electoral tribunal said late Sunday that with about 58 per cent of the votes counted, Vice-President Salvador Sanchez had 49 per cent in his bid to extend the rule of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the party of former civil war guerrillas that won the presidency for the first time in 2009. Sanchez was just under the 50 per cent plus one vote he needed to win outright, but election tribunal chief Eugenio Chicas predicted the candidate would fall short and have to face a runoff. San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano was second with nearly 39 per cent as the candidate of the long-governing conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, known as ARENA. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) ? El Salvador's ruling leftist party appeared to win the presidential vote with nearly all ballots counted by Monday, but candidate Salvador Sanchez of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front probably faces a runoff by narrowly failing to win a simple majority of votes.


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