Today's Top Stories (April 14, 2009)

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US may drop key demand for nuclear talks with Iran – newspaper The New York Times reported on Tuesday that...
US may drop key demand for nuclear talks with Iran – newspaper The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the United States and its European allies are considering dropping a longstanding US demand that Iran immediately shut down its nuclear facilities before it enters nuclear talks with the West. The proposals, still under discussion, would allow Tehran to continue its uranium enrichment activities for some period during the talks, a break from the policy of the Bush administration, which had demanded that Iran stop enriching uranium. Citing officials involved in the strategy sessions, the newspaper said that the proposals were aimed at drawing the Islamic Republic into nuclear negotiations, which it had shunned. A senior Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that any new American policy would ultimately require Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. Egypt says Iran using Hezbollah to “gain presence” in Egypt In an interview published Tuesday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit accused Iran of using the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, to gain a foothold in Egypt. His remarks come less than a week after Cairo announced the arrest of 49 members of a Hezbollah cell accused of plotting attacks inside Egypt and trying to spread Shiite ideology there. Claiming that Iran will be “astonished” at what Egypt’s public prosecutor will include in his report, Abul Gheit told the pan-Arab daily, Asharq Al-Awsat: “(Iran) used (Hezbollah) to gain a presence in Egypt and to say to Egyptians: we are here.” Asked about the Egyptian arrests, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hassan Qashqavi, told reporters today that Cairo’s stance was “not reasonable”. Iran puts US-Iranian journalist on trial for spying Imprisoned Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has gone on trial in Tehran on charges of spying for the United States, and a verdict is expected soon, a judiciary official said on Tuesday. Judiciary spokesperson Alireza Jamshidi told reporters: “The charge against Roxana Saberi is spying for foreigners; the indictment has been issued and the dossier taken to court; her first court hearing was held yesterday and her final defense [argument] was also read.” Washington has said that the charges against the 31-year-old dual citizen are “baseless and without foundation”, and has demanded Saberi’s release. Asked about Washington’s comments, Jamshidi said: “It is ridiculous for an individual or a government to give opinions without being informed, and you cannot comment on whether an individual is innocent or guilty.”
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