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Framework Of Syria Peace Talks Divides Interested Parties

A long delayed Syrian peace conference is to begin in Switzerland on Wednesday. In 2012, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart issued a joint call for talks between the Syrian government and the opposition to reach agreement on a transitional government with "full executive authority." For the U.S., that means Syria's president would be out of power. But the Russians don't see it that way, arguing only the Syrian people can decide on their leader.
NPR

Cost Overruns Threaten Widening Of Panama Canal

Despite threats to stop construction in a dispute over payments, the Spanish company leading the project to widen the Panama Canal says the work will go ahead. The expansion will double shipping capacity.
NPR

Violence In Iraq Goes From Bad To Worse

There have been a wave of deadly attacks across Iraq over the last several days. For more on this surge of violence, Steve Inskeep talks to Prashant Rao, Iraq bureau chief for the French news agency AFP.
NPR

New Force Emerges In Indian Politics: Common Man Party

As India prepares for elections this spring, there are signs the electorate is agitated and ready to throw out the ruling Congress Party. The main opposition BJP looks poised to benefit most. But a new political kid is harnessing public anger about corruption and it could be a game changer.
NPR

Soba: More Than Just Noodles, It's A Cultural Heritage ... And An Art Form

The United Nations has named traditional Japanese cuisine — known as washoku — an intangible cultural heritage. One of the oldest foods of washoku is the soba noodle. But what most Americans call soba is a pale comparison to the actual cuisine. One woman in Southern California is trying to keep the true traditional noodle alive in America.
NPR

Norwegian Festival Shows Off The Musicality Of Ice

At the annual festival in the village of Geilo, the musical instruments are made of ice — along with other natural materials like birch wood or slate.
NPR

Nuclear Inspectors Enter Iran, With Eyes Peeled For Cheating

This week in Iran, international inspectors are stepping up surveillance of the country's nuclear program. The inspections are at the heart of a landmark deal that freezes Iran's uranium enrichment in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from sanctions, but they are just a first step.
NPR

As Protests Renew In Ukraine, Fears Of Violence Return

Anti-government protests have shaken Ukraine for two months. With the passage of a new law intended to limit public protests, the crisis is once again intensifying. Protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, clashed with police for a second day on Monday, one day after a massive protest in the city turned violent.
NPR

For World Superpowers, The Negotiating Table Often Had A Net

Melissa Block talks with Nicholas Griffin about his book, Ping-Pong Diplomacy, which explores the importance of the tabletop game in Chinese political history and foreign policy.
NPR

Surprise Invitation Lands Syrian Peace Talks In Hot Water

The long-anticipated Syrian peace conference is again in turmoil. The U.N. secretary-general's surprise decision to invite Iran to attend the conference prompted a boycott threat from Syria's exiled opposition. At issue is the fact that Iran has not publicly committed to the framework for the conference or pledged to withdraw its troops and allied militias from Syria. Under pressure from the opposition groups and the U.S., the U.N. has since withdrawn its invitation to Iran.

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