IRAN
Khamenei approves further nuclear talks

Iran’s supreme leader gave his indirect approval Tuesday for a continuation of talks over the country’s disputed nuclear program, criticizing world powers that many frustrated Iranians believe could have worked harder to reach a deal.

The remarks were the first by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, since Iran and the major powers agreed Monday to decide by March 1 about what agreements must be reached on what schedule. A final deal is meant to follow four months later.

“On the nuclear issue, the United States and European colonialist countries gathered and applied their entire efforts to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees but they could not and they will not,” Khamenei said, according to his Web site. His reference to the future signals indirect approval of the talks.

Mojtaba Fathi, a Tehran-based analyst, said the extension of the talks means that current international sanctions “will not increase against Iran and a reduction of the sanctions is possible while it has its own nuclear program on the ground. This has added to hopes for solving the case.”

— Associated Press

AFGHANISTAN
2 powerful blasts shake the capital

Two powerful explosions hit Kabul early Tuesday, one wounding six Afghan soldiers, the latest in a series of insurgent attacks on high-profile targets.

A roadside bomb targeted an Afghan army minibus, causing the soldiers’ wounds, police said. The second blast in the center of Kabul did not cause casualties, they said.

Tuesday’s attacks came a day after two foreign soldiers were killed when a bomb detonated as their convoy passed by in the eastern part of the capital.

Kabul has seen more insurgent attacks in recent months, many now targeting foreigners, those working with foreigners, the Afghan army, police and security installations.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said two of its soldiers were killed Monday, but he declined to specify their nationalities, citing protocol requiring that the soldiers’ families be notified first.

— Sudarsan Raghavan
and Daniela Deane

EL SALVADOR
8 killed in shooting at graduation party

Suspected gang members in El Salvador shot dead seven men and a woman early Tuesday during a middle school graduation party in the Pacific seaport town of Acajutla, police said.

At least four suspected members of local street gangs known as Maras broke into a house in Acajutla, about 52 miles southwest of the capital, San Salvador, and opened fire on the group without warning, police said.

Among the seven dead men was Cristian Romero, a gang member wanted for murder, authorities said.

A March 2012 truce signed by El Salvador’s gangs has slipped this year, sparking an increase in violence.

— Reuters

Yemeni forces free 8 al-Qaeda hostages: Yemeni security forces freed eight hostages — six Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethio­pian — in a raid in which seven al-Qaeda kidnappers were killed, the country’s supreme security committee said. The committee said in a statement that a member of the Yemeni security forces was lightly wounded in the operation in Hajr as-Sayar district in the eastern province of Hadramout.

4 die in Nicaragua mine collapse: Officials in Nicaragua say four gold miners died in the collapse of a closed mine tunnel that was still being worked by local people in the western part of the Central American country. Villanueva Mayor Juan Fernando Gómez told local media that the accident occurred Monday night as miners were preparing to leave the tunnels during a heavy downpour. In August, a collapse at another mine killed seven people near Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.

— From news services