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Turkey's Erdogan in Iran to mend ties after split over Syria

By Parisa Hafezi ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Iran to bolster trade and energy relations, state TV said, in what also looked like a bid to defuse tensions over Syria by capitalizing on Tehran's diplomatic opening to regional rivals and the West. Iran has been a strong strategic ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him, while Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics, supporting his opponents and giving refuge to rebel fighters.

Sweden's Bildt to visit Iran next week

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt plans a visit to Iran next week that could help make a temporary deal on the country's nuclear programme more permanent, his spokesman said Wednesday. Bildt's press officer Erik Zsiga told AFP that the foreign minister, one of Europe's most experienced and well-connected diplomats, will be in Iran from Monday through Thursday next week. News of Bildt's trip came after the announcement on January 20 of a six-month deal putting temporary curbs on Iran's nuclear programme came into effect following years of fruitless negotiations.

Key quotes from Obama's State of the Union address

Key quotes from US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday: ON THE ECONOMY "And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world's number one place to invest; America is. That's why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.

Key quotes from Obama's State of the Union address

Key quotes from US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday: ON THE ECONOMY "And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world's number one place to invest; America is. That's why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.

Iran's Rouhani doubts Syria peace talks will succeed

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani Wednesday slammed the participation of "supporters of terrorists" in Syria peace talks, saying this endangered the chances of the conference succeeding, Mehr news agency reported. "All the signs show that we cannot have much hope that the Geneva II conference will find a solution to the problems of the Syrian people and the fight against terrorism," Rouhani said before leaving for the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Iran says will attend Syria talks, rejects conditions

Iran will attend Syrian peace talks this week in Switzerland but without preconditions, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told the official IRNA news agency. "Based on the official invitation, Iran will participate in this conference without any preconditions," Afkham was quoted as saying. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sparked a furore Sunday by inviting Iran to the so-called Geneva II peace talks due to open on Wednesday.

Iran says will attend Syria talks, rejects conditions

Iran will attend Syrian peace talks this week in Switzerland but without preconditions, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told the official IRNA news agency. "Based on the official invitation, Iran will participate in this conference without any preconditions," Afkham was quoted as saying. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sparked a furore Sunday by inviting Iran to the so-called Geneva II peace talks due to open on Wednesday.

U.N. chief invites Iran to Geneva 2, Syria opposition threatens to withdraw

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Syria's political opposition said on Monday it will withdraw from international peace talks scheduled this week unless United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon retracts an invitation to Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's main backer. Washington, however, suggested it could support Iran's participation if it explicitly declares its support for a June 2012 plan for a political transition that the United States says means Assad would have to step down.

EU ready to resume business with Iran on Jan 20

The EU will begin lifting sanctions against Iran on Monday, January 20, the minute it receives word that Tehran has begun implementing a deal to curb its nuclear programme. EU foreign ministers will announce the move in Brussels as soon as inspectors from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, confirm that Iran has started work on a set of measures to reassure the international community over its nuclear drive, EU sources said Thursday. The IAEA greenlight is expected in the morning and "a decision and regulation (on lifting the sanctions) will be published the same day."

EU's Ashton plans to visit Iran 'within weeks'

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in Kuwait City on Monday she plans to visit Iran within weeks, two days after Tehran invited her to the country. "I read with interest the invitation to visit Tehran and it is my intention to do so in the course of the next weeks," Ashton told a press conference after talks with Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had invited Ashton to visit Tehran, Mehr news agency cited his deputy as saying on Saturday.
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