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Turkey’s president says women not equal to men

Turkey's
         President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the
         Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 22. Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 22. Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruffled feathers Monday when he said women and men are created differently, and women can’t be expected to do the same work as men.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he said at a conference on justice for women in Istanbul. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

Erdogan also said “motherhood is the highest position” women can achieve.

“Our religion regards motherhood very highly,” he continued. “Feminists don’t understand that, they reject motherhood.”

Critics have said Erdogan’s government is trying to degrade the country’s secular principles and limit the rights of women.

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Talks to continue on limiting Iran’s nuclear program

U.S.
         Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Iranian Foreign
         Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, EU
         High Representative Catherine Ashton, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at the Palais Coburg in Vienna on Nov. 23.
         Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at the Palais Coburg in Vienna on Nov. 23. Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images

Negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program failed to achieve a permanent agreement by Monday’s deadline, but Secretary of State John Kerry said some “new ideas surfaced” in the past few days and “we would be fools to walk away.”

Negotiators with the U.S. and Iran, along with Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia agreed after six days of talks in Vienna to lay out by March 1 what Iran and the other six world powers need to do, and to decide on a final agreement four months later. The talks will resume in December, though a location was not announced.

While the negotiations continue, an interim deal will remain in place and Iran will continue to receive $700 million per month in formerly frozen funds.

Western countries are concerned Iran is using its nuclear program to build a bomb, but Tehran insists the program is for civilian purposes only.

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Obama quietly broadens U.S. mission in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has quietly approved guidelines in recent weeks to allow the Pentagon to target Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, broadening previous plans that had limited the military to counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida after this year, U.S. officials said late Friday.

The president’s decisions also allow the military to conduct air support for Afghan operations when needed. Obama issued the guidelines in recent weeks, as the American combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, thousands of troops return home, and the military prepares for narrower counterterrorism and training mission for the next two years.

Obama’s moves expand on what had been previously planned for next year. One U.S. official said the military could only go after the Taliban if it posed a threat to American forces or provided direct support to al-Qaida, while the latter could be targeted more indiscriminately.

“To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al-Qaida, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe,” the official said.

The Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan far exceeds that of al-Qaida, adding significance to Obama’s authorization. The president’s decision came in response to requests from military commanders who wanted troops to be allowed to continue to battle the Taliban, the U.S. officials said.

The New York Times first reported the new guidelines. Officials confirmed details to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Obama’s decisions by name.

The decision to expand the military’s authority does not impact the overall number of U.S. troops that will remain in Afghanistan. Earlier this year. Obama ordered the American force presence to be cut to 9,800 by the end of this year, a figure expected to be cut in half by the end of 2015.

The president wants all U.S. troops to be out of Afghanistan a year later, as his presidency draws to a close.

Some of the Obama administration’s planning for the post-2014 mission was slowed by a political stalemate in Afghanistan earlier this year. It took months for the winner of the country’s presidential election to be certified, delaying the signing of a bilateral security agreement that was necessary in order to keep U.S. forces in the country after December.

In Kabul, officials with the Afghan Defense Ministry declined to comment Saturday, while officials with the presidency could not be reached.

However, Afghan military analyst Jawed Kohistani said the move likely would be welcomed as President Ashraf Ghani’s new administration upon taking office immediately signed a deal with the U.S. to allow a residual force of 12,000 foreign troops in the country.

“We have heard from many military officers who are involved in direct fighting with the Taliban and other insurgents that still there is a need for more cooperation, there is need for an ongoing U.S. combat mission and there is need for U.S. air support for the Afghan security forces to help them in their fight against the insurgents,” Kohistani said.

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Slim chances for a full Iran nuclear deal by the deadline?

IRAN DEADLINE  monitor nuclear

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JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. and Iranian negotiators intensified their efforts today to overcome divisions in talks on Tehran’s nuclear program. The deadline for a deal is Monday.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif unexpectedly met for a second time this evening. Despite reservations and objections from Israel, Gulf allies and many in Washington, Kerry is hoping to reach a deal with the country to defuse a 12-year standoff over its nuclear program.

To get up to speed on the latest, I’m now joined by David Sanger of The New York Times, who is covering the talks in Vienna.

So, David, this morning, when I read the news, it seemed that both parties were sort of leaving the negotiating table. Now you’re telling us they met twice. What happened?

DAVID SANGER, The New York Times: Well, it’s been a day of high drama. It’s not been clear that it’s been a day of much progress.

Much of this right now may be sort of last-72-hours brinksmanship. The word this morning was that, after one more meeting, the Iranian negotiator was going to fly back to Tehran, presumably, Hari, to get instructions about last-minute concessions.

And then we heard that Secretary of State Kerry was going to leave to go to Paris. He wasn’t going to stay around here and wait for his Iranian counterpart to return. By the end of the evening, they were both staying. We can’t tell if that is because of progress or because there was really no reason to go back and propose anything to Iran’s supreme leader.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about what they’re talking about. The deadline is, as you said, just less than 72 hours away. How big is the gap in what both sides want?

DAVID SANGER: Well, the big — the gap in what they want is pretty huge.

The question is, how big is the gap in what they would settle for?  And we’re not entirely certain where they are on each of the main issues. But the things on which they still seem to be divided still are the following.

First, the Iranians want in any final deal to have all of the sanctions, the sanctions and Western-based sanctions, and the United Nations sanctions, basically lifted almost immediately, but certainly in the very near future by a date certain.

President Obama wants to make sure that he simply suspends these sanctions, probably through the remaining part of his presidency, while the Iranians begin to comply with the requirements of the agreement, so that he could reimpose sanctions with just the signature of a pen if, in fact, the Iranians don’t comply fully.

And that’s a major issue. And of course, with Congress, that’s a big issue because don’t — they want to vote, and many in Congress want to impose some new sanctions.

Another big issue is how much uranium enrichment capacity Iran will be left with, and there are all sorts of proposals floating around. But two of the biggest are that Iran send a lot of its existing fuel to Russia, where it will be fabricated into some kind of fuel that they could use in one of their nuclear power plants. That would take it out of the potential for being turned into a weapon.

The other is that Iran dismantle a large number of its centrifuges, those floor-to-ceiling machines that spin at supersonic speeds and actually enrich the uranium. And that’s all part of a complex mathematical calculation about how do you get enough assurance that it would take Iran at least a year, maybe more, to race for a bomb?

HARI SREENIVASAN: That all said, how likely is a deal by Monday?

DAVID SANGER: I think the chances of a final deal on Monday are pretty slim. I would put them at well under 50 percent.

However, it’s in neither side’s interest at this point to have this entire negotiation fall apart. If that happened, Iran would have no chance of getting the sanctions lifted and would probably start producing nuclear fuel again.

So I think that the most likely outcome is some agreement in principle or some announcement that they have made some progress on some major areas, but then another extension. And that raises a lot of concerns as well, because it means that people who oppose a deal in Congress and people who oppose a deal in Tehran, which includes the Revolutionary Guard Corps, might have time to move in and sort of kill off the chances of any kind of final agreement.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Right.

All right, David Sanger of The New York Times joining us from Vienna, thanks so much.

DAVID SANGER: Thank you, Hari.

 

 

 

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